Behind the beer: An examination of ‘entrepreneurial’ motives for starting a craft brewery

Vaughan Ellis, James Richards

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Brewing has experienced a considerable revival in recent years with the
number of brewers in the UK being at its highest level since the 1930s
(Cask Report, 2018). After decades of mergers and takeovers saw the
emergence of a small number of global brewing conglomerates, many of
the recently established breweries have spearheaded what has been referred
to as a ‘craft beer revolution’. Typically, producing small batches of artisan
brews and with small workforces, the output of craft brewers accounts for
approximately 2.5% of all beer sales in the UK, but is the fastest growing
sector of the drinks market. The growth of the industry mirrors that
seen by artisan food producers and has led some to suggest an emerging
preference for rejecting mass produced food and drink products.

Despite recognition of the craft beer industry’s emergence, growth and
cultural significance, almost nothing is known about the individuals who
started these new breweries, nor what their motivations for doing so were.
Drawing upon 30 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with owner-brewers
of craft breweries from across Scotland, this chapter presents findings
examining owners’ backgrounds and motivations for starting their brewery.
The findings show a range of motivations and expectations amongst
the group of owners and provide a useful basis for making practical
recommendations of how other aspiring craft beer ‘entrepreneurs’ can be
best supported by the industry
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearching Craft Beer
Subtitle of host publicationUnderstanding Production, Community and Culture in an Evolving Sector
EditorsDaniel Clarke, Vaughan Ellis, Holly Patrick, David Weir
Place of PublicationBingley
PublisherEmerald Publishing Limited
ISBN (Print)9781800431850
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2021


  • microbreweries
  • brewing entrepreneurs
  • craft beer
  • push and pull factors
  • craft work
  • career change


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