Guest Author: Ernie Smith, Associations Now
Craft breweries—of which there are more than 7,000 nationally—are becoming a major economic force in many communities, as well as a cultural one. Associations looking to build up a strong chapter system would be smart to take notes.
Craft breweries are having a moment, and it’s worth analyzing why that might be.
Beyond the beer, of course.
Recently, the Brewers Association announced the number of craft breweries nationally had topped 7,000 for the first time, an increase of more than 1,100 from the year prior. In addition, more than 2,000 other breweries are in planning stages, according to BA’s Chief Economist Bart Watson.
While most of the breweries are small, they represent a potentially big lesson for associations. That’s because, in their own way, they’re part of their broader communities—something that associations should aim for as they build out their chapter presences. A few takeaways from the best in craft breweries:
Carry some of the local flavor
Part of the reason the economy seems able to handle so many craft breweries is that no two are the same, and as a result, they often reflect the local community. According to statistics from BA, more than 80 percent of U.S. adults of drinking age live within 10 miles of a brewery. As Kate Bernot explains in The Takeout, breweries with an ambition to stay local could find a lot of room to thrive. “If a brewery’s plan is to stay small, serve just its town or county, maybe operate as a brewpub (with food), and sell most of its beer onsite, I’d argue there’s room for one of those in nearly every American town,” she writes. That local flavor tends to be the appeal of successful association chapters as well.