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Greg Koch has a front row view of the seismic shifts playing out in the world of American craft brewing. The co-founder and executive chairman of Escondido, Calif.-based Stone Brewing Co. — the 17th largest brewery in the country — also isn’t shy about sharing his views on the trend of large conglomerates buying up craft breweries.

GRAND RAPIDS — When Edwin Collazo and Dave Petroelje announced plans in late 2015 to launch a craft brewery north of downtown, only one other producer had set up shop in the area.

“It’s definitely not easy anymore.”
— Jason Spaulding, Brewery Vivant

As Michigan’s craft beverage industry matures and gets more competitive, it’s causing more than a few growing pains to emerge. Additionally, the pace of growth has slowed, forcing producers
to rely on solid business practices to succeed. In this comprehensive special report, MiBiz examines how these companies are adapting their strategies to survive in the ever-changing market.

Thirsty Michigan craft beer consumers bought the equivalent of around 59,000 more pints of Brewery Vivant’s beer in 2016 than they did the year before.

Saugatuck Brewing Co. thought it was being edgy in 2011 when it coined the name “Hop on a Blonde” for its new blonde ale.

As the craft brewing industry grows in Michigan and beyond, it has been met with a continual skepticism about whether the market can support even more producers. Every industry hiccup stirs talk of a craft beer bubble that’s on the verge of bursting. In separate interviews, MiBiz brought that discussion to three professional advisers to get their take on the state of the industry.

Dynamics within the maturing craft beer industry are creating new growth opportunities for suppliers.

Proposed federal budget cuts have the potential to wipe out key hop and barley research programs that have helped improve the quality of the raw material supply chain for craft brewers.

Michigan craft breweries have only just started to sell their beer in international markets, but many in the industry believe exporting could soon become an important diversification strategy.

ROCKFORD — When Seth Rivard and his partners opened Rockford Brewing Co. in 2012 along the White Pine Trail about 15 miles north of Grand Rapids, they turned to a federal lending program that backs bank loans for small businesses.

With more than 5,300 craft brewers already on the market, and many more scheduled to open in the near future, the craft brewing industry has started to mature.

JACKSON — Indian Brook Trout Farm Inc. plans to leverage $150,000 it received through a state grant to win vital contracts with national grocery retailers.

Changes to the federal tax code implemented at the beginning of the year could alleviate burdensome financial and bureaucratic rules for many craft beverage makers. 

During this year’s ArtPrize, downtown Grand Rapids was filled with the expected sights — oversized artwork, misused crosswalks, the guy riding a fish bicycle. But there was a surprise greeting visitors who flocked to the eighth-annual event: Food trucks. All over the place. With lines in front of them.

HART — After operating for a decade, The Starting Block has helped the West Michigan craft food movement grow from an idea into the fledgling industry it is today.

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