As Charles Heying recently posted, brewing beer for local or regional consumption can lead to spin-off economic activity. This fact is often overlooked. When most people consider a beer economy, regional craft breweries, microbreweries, and brewpubs dominate the subject. This is understandable as these physical spaces and the products produced therein are dominant focal points for such economic activity. Plus, the numbers and statistics reported to the media tell an impressive story of craft brewing’s ascendancy onto the larger national brewing landscape.
The Brewers Association notes that in 2010, while the overall US beer market was down 1% by volume, the craft brewing industry was up 11% by volume and 12% by retail dollars. Additionally, craft brewing provides an estimated 100,000 jobs in the country.
Impressive, but as the beer economy in Asheville, North Carolina demonstrates, this perspective may be only part of the story.
In his article, Beer is Big Business for Asheville Area, Jason Sandford examines the beer economy in the Asheville region and along with detailing its success in boosting tourism and job creation, highlights the linkages existing between the breweries and surrounding businesses. Local beer as an ingredient in gourmet mustard? Check. Shampoo and body wash made from local beer? Check.
Is Asheville’s beer economy alone in clustering? As Heying’s previous post observers… definitely not. Is Asheville’s beer economy cluster a new twist on the Napa Valley paradigm ready for application in regions where growing grapes may not be an option? Signs point to “yes.”