Craft brewing now comprises 7.8% volume of the total U.S. beer market—and the craft beer market is on the rise.
It’s no wonder that there is growing demand for craft beers from breweries all over the country. Not every state’s beers can be so easily accessed, however.
The narrator of the above NBC video sums up the complexities of exchanging booze across state lines: “When it comes to buying the beer, the country looks more like a patchwork of closed off fiefdoms than the land of the free market.”
The reason behind this isn’t so complex. It all started with prohibition—when the 21st Amendment was ratified in 1933, a three-tier system was established where liquor producers had to sell their products to distributors, who then could sell them to bars and stores. This tightly systematized guideline also translated into other rules: states were given the ability to form their own rules for liquor sales, and have inevitably come up with countless local laws that are at odds with each other.
But back to the tight distribution network that dominates beer sales. Critics think that because it’s so regulated, it often is a roadblock for breweries that want to expand into a new market. The narrator explains,
“Distributors say that the three-tier system prevents underage drinking and ensures the quality of the beer, but critics argue that the middlemen just drive up the price and block microbreweries from competing with bigger breweries.”
There needs to be a beer distribution revolution.
[via NBC News]