Beginning in the late 1970s, the story of craft beer has been one of impressive economic growth and success. In 1978, there were fewer than 100 breweries in the United States; today, there are more than 7,000. Yet, as the craft beer industry matures, growth in the industry has begun to slow, competition has increased, and consolidation has become more prevalent. Lurking in the background is pressure from Big Beer companies, who have greater resources and who are increasingly acquiring craft breweries to shore up their own positions within the market, and beer distributors, who are often aligned with or controlled by Big Beer companies to the detriment of craft brewers. In response to these unfavorable conditions, this Note proposes three changes to the legal landscape, all of which are designed with lobbying influences in mind: 1) expanded self–distribution laws or the creation of state–run distribution centers that would operate alongside private distributors; 2) additional legislation in the form of a “retailer’s law,” which would correct power imbalances in the brewer–distributor relationship; and 3) further changes to federal excise taxation on beer.
The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.