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Crafting Business with Breweries

Break into a new market by selling your produce to local brewers and cider makers.

| May/June 2019

Craft brewers go out of their way to find locally-grown ingredients for their beers. Photo by James Priest.

Farmers have a long list of potential markets for their produce — restaurants, wholesalers, farmers markets, and retail produce outlets are just a few common selling options. However, a novel market is emerging, offering a new source of revenue: local breweries and cideries.

An Expanding Craft

Local breweries seem to be popping up everywhere nowadays, but this wasn’t always true. Although more than 4,000 breweries existed in the United States in the early 1870s, this number steadily declined over the next century until breweries in the country had all but disappeared.

A main contributing factor was the National Prohibition Act. In effect from 1920 into the early ’30s, Prohibition forced breweries to stop producing alcohol except for near beers (that is, beer containing little to no alcohol). The damage done to breweries lasted until the early 1990s, when brewery numbers began to spike. Even with this revival, it’s only been in the last decade that the number of craft brewers has jumped dramatically. Today, according to the National Brewers Association, there are well over 6,000 breweries in the country. Craft breweries — independent breweries not associated with any multinational corporations — comprise the overwhelming percentage of these new businesses.

Photo by Adobe Stock/Fotos 593.

Craft brewers are at the forefront of using myriad local ingredients; they’re limited only by their imagination in a quest to create unique and flavorful brews. Beers have been created using ingredients as disparate as oysters, beets, sweet potatoes, and rosemary. Brewing beer isn’t just about hops anymore — boundary-breaking ingredients set craft brewers apart from the rest, and farmers are in the perfect position to supply the fundamental crops.

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