As more generations become exposed over time to the craft beer industry, brewers will face new opportunities to find growth and challenges to their existing business models. Add in a healthy dose of regulatory uncertainty and shifting market dynamics that could easily catch breweries off guard financially if they scaled up too large, too soon and it’s easy to see that the craft brewing industry remains in a state of constant flux.
Two West Michigan craft brewers operating with vastly differing business models are taking a similar approach to growing their operations by using capacity at other breweries. Both Sawyer-based Greenbush Brewing Co. and Muskegon-based Rake Beer Project LLC are taking advantage of a production model that allows them to get beer into the market without a significant upfront capital investment.
The craft brewing industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace. As breweries strive to stay relevant in the eyes of thirsty customers, they also need to find ways to keep their distributor and retail partners happy. Companies need to balance all those demands and more if they plan to grow beyond the taproom model, which still provides their most lucrative sales.
Until last year, state law barred alcoholic beverage makers and wholesalers from using social media to promote their products at the retailer level, even though many of them did anyway.
The craft beer industry in Michigan essentially started with Larry Bell in 1985 launching what would become Bell’s Brewery Inc. Since then, and especially over the last decade, the industry has taken off in West Michigan and beyond.