Brewery relocation has been a hot topic lately, as the American beer market looks to shrink its world.
Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues, New Belgium, Deschutes, Stone – all high profile cases where long-tenured legacy breweries looked to the East Coast for welcoming arms, plentiful space and tax incentives, of course. Each of these businesses have added or plan to add additional facilities thousands of miles from where they originally set up shop with hope of better tapping into markets with fresher beer and more integrated associations with communities once full of strangers.
In a way, it’s merely one end of a spectrum, where at the other, local rules supreme. Even if you may be a national brand, you can still find a connection to that powerful emotional theme of community.
But for as much effort as governments put into courting these companies – $18 million from North Carolina here, $5 million from Virginia there – it’s important to not overlook the context of what it means to have the Big Boys of craft playing alongside your small, local startups. No matter your politics or belief in courting outside businesses, there are many reasons why this happens.
Because for whatever amount of money it may take to land one of these behemoths, at least one outcome can’t be ignored. Beer isn’t just a liquid in our glass, after all. Now more than ever, it’s also an economic force benefiting communities around us.