Faculty Publications

Sustainable Development In The Craft Brewing Industry: A Case Study Of Iowa Brewers

Document Type



benchmarking, craft beer, environmental management, producer beliefs, SMEs, sustainability, sustainable brewing

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Business Strategy and the Environment


The rapid expansion of the resource-intensive brewing industry has led to U.S. and state-level initiatives to encourage sustainable craft brewing practices. These efforts raise questions about brewers' current brewing practices and the conditions and factors that might influence a brewer's decision to adopt sustainable practices. We conducted an in-depth survey of Iowa craft brewers in 2019 to evaluate current sustainability practices within breweries. In addition, we elicited brewer perceptions regarding consumer preferences and willingness-to-pay for sustainably produced beer. We analyze these factors together with data on brewery production characteristics and the brewer's personal beliefs and demographics. While most breweries in our sample track key environmental metrics to some degree, many of them lack environmental plans. Further, we find significant variation in the degree to which brewers believe there is opportunity to leverage sustainable brewing practices to charge consumers a higher price. We also provide insight on relationships between environmental practices and potential resources provided to breweries. These findings improve our understanding of craft brewers' tradeoffs regarding sustainable brewing practices that could apply more generally to other resource-intensive sectors.


Department of Economics

Original Publication Date


DOI of published version



UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa