Neighborhood Change, One Pint at a Time

Cite as: Barajas, J. M., G. Boeing, and J. Wartell. 2017. “Neighborhood Change, One Pint at a Time: The Impact of Local Characteristics on Craft Breweries.” In: N. G. Chapman, J. S. Lellock, and C. D. Lippard (Eds.) Untapped: Exploring the Cultural Dimensions of Craft Beer (pp. 155-176). Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Press.

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Cities have recognized the local impact of small craft breweries, altering municipal codes to make it easier to establish breweries as anchor points of economic development and revitalization. However, we do not know the extent to which these strategies impact change at the neighborhood scale across the U.S. In this chapter, we examine the relationship between the growth and locations of craft breweries and the incidence of neighborhood change. We rely on a unique data set of geocoded brewery locations that tracks openings and closings from 2004 to the present. Using measures of neighborhood change often found in the gentrification literature, we develop statistical models of census tract demographic and employment data to determine the extent to which brewery locations are associated with social and demographic shifts since 2000. The strongest predictor of whether a craft brewery opened in 2013 or later in a neighborhood was the presence of a prior brewery. We do not find evidence entirely consistent with the common narrative of a link between gentrification and craft brewing, but we do find a link between an influx of lower-to-middle income urban creatives and the introduction of a craft brewery. We advocate for urban planners to recognize the importance of craft breweries in neighborhood revitalization while also protecting residents from potential displacement.