Craft Beer Economics: Mixing Business with Pleasure

Drinking beer is no longer just for fun. Cities across the nation are utilizing the craft beer industry to boost economic growth, creating a booming culture driven equally by profit and pleasure. Here is a look at three locations that are ‘tap’ping into this lucrative industry.


This state is setting the standard across the nation for how to turn the once leisurely activity of drinking beer into a massive force to fuel their economy. A study by the University of Colorado Business Research Division for the Colorado Brewers Guild reported that the craft brewing industry pours more than $400 million into the state’s economy and has created almost 6,000 jobs. Dave Thibodeau, CBG president explains, “CBG brewers are the catalyst for creating an electric beer culture, while contributing to entrepreneurial activity, and spurring beer tourism throughout the state.”

In the political arena, Colorado brewers have stepped up to kill legislation that would hurt their growing industry. Crushing a proposed bill that would have allowed local grocery and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer ensured that the market for local nano-breweries would be protected and sent a clear message that craft beer lovers didn’t want their diverse beer selection being threatened by the big guys.


Of all the locations across the nation how was Asheville, North Carolina victorious in luring the country’s second and third largest breweries- Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and New Belgium Brewing to their town? Ben Teague, Asheville’s executive director of economic development explained, “You have to have property, you have to be economically competitive. But there are the other intangibles.” Asheville pitched their city’s quality of life closely connected with nature- its access to the nearby river, its beautiful scenery and its outdoorsy yet thriving culture. One selling point for New Belgium was that Asheville was a place where their workers could enjoy biking or walking to work. Sierra Nevada communications manager Bill Manley explains, “We really feel that the culture here is just a really important part of how we make our beer, how we get inspired.” Asheville’s lesson to us all is that being true to itself and its values was how this city was able to snag two of the biggest fish in the industry and now their local economy is benefiting from the ripple effect created by the growth of their brewery scene.

Businesses have begun incorporating local beers into their products. Microbroo LLC makes Broo Shampoo using Highland beer and the folks at Crooked Condiments make mustard out of Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co.’s porter. Chelsea Madison, a partner at Crooked Condiments explains “Our best selling point is to say this mustard is made from a local beer,” she said. “Customers identify with the quality and craftsmanship, and that reflects on us.” Industries in Asheville are building off of one another’s success in an exciting way that makes this city’s economic future look extremely promising.


People aren’t just coming to the city of brotherly love to see the Liberty Bell and grab a cheese steak anymore. Philadelphia has embraced it’s thriving craft beer scene and developed multiple tourist attractions that revolve around the industry. There’s a craft beer tasting trolley, a craft beer bus, the “craft beer express” pub crawl, numerous craft beer and food pairing events, and more brewery tours than you can count. Philadelphia couldn’t even keep it’s annual Philly Beer Week down to 7 days so its festival has evolved to an all out 10 day beer frenzy. Philadelphia was the first city in America to hold a citywide celebration of its craft beer scene. Since its first festival in 2008, beer weeks have sprung across the country as numerous other cities have realized just how much their economy can benefit from the tourism generated by these massive events. Nothing says business and pleasure like a beer festival that attracts crowds in the thousands to your city.

The craft beer craze is spreading like crazy from city to city across the country. Keep an eye out for our next look at up-and-coming craft beer hubs that are sweeping the nation!


-Kristen Rosas


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