January 26, 2015
Talk about a beer buzz.
America’s craft brewers are riding a wave of success: ever-expanding craft-beer sections in supermarkets, craft-beer festivals in most major cities and even university programs in the art and business of making craft beer. In 2013, sales from craft brewers hit a record $14.3 billion—an increase of 20% from the previous year, according to the Brewers Association, a trade group. (The pace continued in 2014, with 18% growth through midyear, according to the association.)
Still, craft brewers face their share of challenges. Like many small businesses, they’re not big enough to benefit from certain economies of scale. Plus, they face challenges unique to their business, from dealing with federal, state and local laws governing the sale and production of anything alcoholic to fighting large-scale brewers for market share. (The major beer brands still control more than 90% of the U.S. beer market, as measured by volume.)
With that in mind, we asked three prominent craft brewers how their business came to be and how they rose to the challenge. Here’s what they had to say.