Craft Breweries Follow the Demographics

The spread of craft beer manufacturing around the United States has followed demographic patterns, along with friendly regulations.

1 minute read

December 31, 2015, 2:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Russian River Brewery

sashimomura / Flickr

newly released paper [pdf] in the Journal of Wine Economics documents the spread of craft beer production across the United States, reports Alison Griswold. The study sheds light on the other side of the equation in the booming popularity of craft beer—not which beers people are buying and where, but where the craft beers are crafted, as it were.

Griswold summarizes the narrative presented in the paper:

"Back in the 1980s, the vast majority of craft breweries were located in the Pacific Northwest—California, Washington, and Oregon. Over the next decade, production moved to the Northeast, and then slowly came back to fill out states in the Midwest. It took until 2001 for every state to be making craft beer, with southern states generally taking longest to enter the market."

The paper's researcher's boil down the causes for that geographic pattern to four main factors. According to Griswold, "[t]he first three are demographic: Craft breweries tend to set up in states with higher incomes, a denser population, and a greater number of young adults." The fourth factor is regulation, which varies widely between states and even cities.

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