Does an ESOP Make Sense? Craft Beer's Growth and Consolidation  - CLEO Skip to main content


The craft beer industry has witnessed explosive growth over the past several years, eschewing its former microbrew moniker. Although craft beer is no longer a niche product—accounting for more than 11 percent of the U.S. beer market according to the Brewer’s Association, and with growth not expected to plateau for several years—it has had its share of growing pains.

The consolidation and sale of some beloved brands to Big Beer has raised eyebrows and piqued new questions about the industry’s identity. The good news is the industry is still expanding with more than 4,000 U.S. craft breweries, over 100 in San Diego alone, and there is an opportunity for employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) to play a larger role in the industry’s future.

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