Craft Brewers Tap Big Expansion
on 28/12/11 at 11:08 amBeer
Craft brewers are making a big bet on their small-label beers.
As sales of specialty craft beers increasingly encroach on established U.S. brands, dozens of regional brewers are pouring millions of dollars into new brew kettles, fermenting tanks and bottling lines, while others are buying land and erecting facilities to meet growing demand.
Two craft brewers, Chico, Calif.-based Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and New Belgium Brewing Co. of Fort Collins, Colo., have a combined U.S. beer-market share of less than 1%, but each is planning to invest at least $75 million next year in their first plants east of the Mississippi River to broaden their production footprint.
The smaller brewers’ activity is a bright spot in an economy still struggling to kick manufacturing and construction into higher gear. The niche market is also bucking the broader U.S. beer industry, which has sold fewer barrels for the third year in a row, according to industry trackers.
“It’s like Silicon Valley right now, or Florence during the Renaissance,” says Jim Koch, chairman and founder of Boston Beer Co., which makes Samuel Adams and is the largest craft brewer in the U.S.