Sustainable development in the craft brewing industry: A case study of Iowa brewers

Alicia Rosburg, Carola Grebitus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2966-2979
Number of pages14
JournalBusiness Strategy and the Environment
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 2021


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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