2016 Craft Brewers Conference in-depth: progress, challenges and what’s next for the industry’s business sustainability movement

Production, exports and brewpub startups are growing at double-digit rates. Is the craft industry toasting responsible growth?

It’s good to be a brewer. A craft brewer that is. In 2015 the industry’s 4,200+ breweries continued to capture market share from Super Bowl beer brands at a voracious pace. Sales grew 12.8% according to the Brewers Association. At the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) in Philadelphia last week, a spectrum of craft brands — some hyperlocal and others major international exporters — came together to celebrate success, build business knowledge for future growth and share sustainable growth tactics.

Craft may be synonymous with small but the industry’s changemakers consider it to be a disproportionately large platform for promoting sustainability in business and culture.

What “responsible growth“ means for craft brewing

When companies (and industries) grow at double-digit rates, it can be difficult to find time to think about abstract external environmental and social impacts like climate change. Even internal measures like energy and water efficiency can take a back seat to more pressing concerns.

For craft brewers, sustainable growth is part of the essence of craft. At CBC this year we focused on identifying what brewers are doing well and where there is room for improvement in order to “walk the talk“ on responsible growth. Here’s what we found…

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