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Business is brewing: Tips on covering the beer industry

August 9, 2016

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The beer business is booming. Approximately $106 billion in sales was generated from the beer market in 2015, according to the National Brewers Association, an increase over past years. Since 2010, the volume share for craft brewers has doubled, and more people are guzzling up beers by independent producers. This blog post covers five ways you can cover the beer industry.

Quantify the craft brewing industry

The Brewers Association website is a solid start for anyone who wants to get a crash course on the craft brewing industry. Here you can find information about news, events, legislation and other happenings that may affect craft brewers in your community.  In the insights and analysis section, you’ll find interesting tidbits such as what the growth of the hops beer market means for growers and how it will affect overall hop beer pricing for consumers and dealers.

The site also offers statistics you can use to compare information for a trend story. For instance, look into the growth of breweries with data all the way back to 1873, or use Brewers Association data to address changes in the brewpub industry from year to year.

The association also examined the impact of the craft beer industry in terms of national beer sales and production. To expand on this information in your area, use the map to look into the industry’s economic impact in your state. Find out how your state compares, and ask local brewers in your area what they are doing to put their state on the map.

Dive into distributor information

The National Beer Wholesalers Association offers business reporters economic research and data pertinent to the beer distribution industry–helpful information for when you’re digging into story ideas. You can also look into the economic factors, such as job growth and value to local communities, and beer franchise laws and how they impact small businesses.

The NBWA Beer Purchasers Index, released monthly, provides insight into beer purchasing activity and how that activity will hinder or help beer suppliers from month to month. This information tells distributors whether or not they can expect an increase or decrease in beer purchase orders.

Talk to beer distributors in your area and ask them how the fluctuation of beer purchasing by consumers and businesses affects their bottom line. What steps do they take to manage inventory? How are they helping businesses and retailers grow?

Explore the Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau

Become familiar with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau created by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. This site regulates the beer industry and provides information on issues such as how to obtain a beer business permit and how to get labeling approved.

The site also releases a number of beer industry statistics monthly that can aid in your coverage. Using these reports, you can find information on things such as the quantity of beers in barrel production from month-to-month and yearly statistics on raw materials used in breweries.

Localize this information by asking how these beer-dependent businesses are doing in your community. Or, dive into the TTB’s state and local jurisdiction information, as state laws may be more restrictive than federal guidelines. Find out what laws are being implemented in your area that impact local businesses and ask how how these businesses are dealing with them. Also, talk to state legislature representatives to see how they’re working with small businesses.

Research beer job growth in your state

The Beer Institute offers additional insight into the economic impact of the beer industry. The organization also addresses many of the policy issues that affect local and state breweries, namely workforce and labor regulation.

Find an array of information on the job industries that depend on the beer industry and explore stats about beer-related job growth in the U.S.

Use this map to see how the beer industry makes a difference in your area. Delve into the number of beer-industry-related jobs in your state and find their total economic impact. For instance, Colorado’s beer industry employed 3,340 finance and real estate professionals last year.

Beer Serves America also provides an industry report each year, where you can find interesting tidbits that could spark a trend story. For instance, the number of small brewpubs and breweries is on the rise. What is your state doing to help local breweries flourish?

Attend events; meet local brewers

Brewbound is another solid, free resource that helps reporters sort through relevant beer events and news in your area.

The group holds a number of its own events called Brewbound Sessions and Brew Talks. These conventions feature a number of entrepreneurs and notable industry experts who talk about issues around the beer business and emerging trends that may advance your coverage.

Attend these events and profile local breweries and workers who attend. Find out what issues they’re encountering in your community. And if you want to meet more businesses outside of these events, use Brewbound to access a database of more than 4,000 breweries nationwide.


  • Lindsey Wisniewski

    Lindsey Wisniewski is a staff editor for The Athletic covering the NBA. Prior to joining The Athletic, she spent time covering the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers for NBC Sports. She also has worked for USA Today, FOX Sports, and Pac-12 N...

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