Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Thomas Bell

Committee Members

Ronald Kalafsky, Margaret Gripshover


Since their origin in the late 1970s, craft breweries have diffused throughout the United States, greatly changing American perceptions of beer in the process. The manner in which craft breweries have spread throughout the nation has not been ubiquitous; at all scales of analysis, a great deal of variation exists. Some areas are far more developed than others in terms of the number of craft breweries present. The data indicate that, while population does play a role in influencing the development of craft breweries, other sociological and demographic conditions also appear to be of great importance in explaining the spatial distribution of these breweries.

This thesis examines the relationship between craft breweries and many factor conditions in an attempt to pinpoint the factors which are most closely associated with the provision of craft breweries. Beginning at the national scale, the focus is narrowed down in scale, including regional, subregional, state and, finally, metropolitan levels. At the state and metropolitan levels of analysis, regression models are developed in an attempt to determine the factors that influence craft brewing development to the greatest degree. Additionally, marketing techniques are examined in an effort to better understand locational variations of how craft beers are being marketed.

The results of the state-level analysis suggest the importance of a number of factors which influence the degree of craft brewing development. At the state level, the presence of highly educated residents, the extent of intrastate hierarchical diffusion of craft breweries to non-metropolitan areas, and the per capita state expenditures are among the variables related to the degree of craft brewing development. At the metropolitan scale, median household income, the extent of wage inequality, the provision of arts and

culture, the presence of crime, the percentage of highly educated residents, the relative emphasis placed on education, cost of living, and general quality of life are the variables that exert the greatest amount of predictive power over the number of craft breweries per capita in a metropolitan area. At both state and metropolitan scales, the limited effect of raw population numbers in influencing the number of craft breweries is apparent. The results also indicate, however, that there are many other, immeasurable factors that influence the extent of craft brewing to a greater degree than any of the independent variables included in the model were able to capture.

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