Microbreweries: Reinvigorating Post Industrial Neighborhoods
In the Spring Arts District, the former industrial neighborhood on the Northern edge of Center City Philadelphia, microbreweries contribute to the vibrantly reemerging community. Employees from nearby creative firms take casual lunch meetings at Roy-Pitz Barrel House or grab drinks with team members after work at Love City Brewing Company, which features a rotating roster of food trunks in the evenings. Soon, Triple Bottom Brewing Company will occupy space in the neighborhood, employing members of the community who have faced adversity and are looking to get back onto their feet.
Businesses like these breweries are fundamental to the fabric of a community. They bring people together and create a sense of place. They complement creative office districts where the creative class is looking to live, work, and play – all in one neighborhood. Overall, these businesses speak to the subtle role of microbreweries in energizing former industrial neighborhoods.
There has undoubtedly been a craft beer boom in America. According to CityLab, between 1985 and 2010, the number of craft breweries in the United States jumped from 27 to 1,754. Between 2010 and 2015, the number of craft breweries has more than doubled, to 4,225.
Microbreweries, like other local businesses, tend to cluster together, allowing them to take advantage of economies of scale – selling each other excess grain and hops, potentially sharing equipment, and generating greater foot traffic to a specific area. This clustering has taken shape in postindustrial neighborhoods, which have been hit with decades of disinvestment and deindustrialization. With affordable rents and ample space, the former warehouse and factory buildings can easily accommodate brewery equipment and are typically located close to major thoroughfares that are crucial for daily deliveries.
As such, craft breweries are engines of neighborhood revitalization in postindustrial areas. They play a role in stimulating communities, encouraging neighborhood engagement, entertainment, and pedestrian traffic. They also cater to millennial desires of self-expression and a sense of community. As a result, millennials make up about 57% of the people who drink craft beer.
Millennials are increasingly concerned with feeling more connected to the products they consume, preferring local and artisanal products that are representative of their interests and ideals. Consuming a local beer from a microbrewery such as Love City Brewing Co. is more aligned with one’s personal brand than drinking a beer from behemoth American producers like Annheuser-Busch or MillerCoors.
Microbreweries create a sense of community within their neighborhoods, providing a casual yet social gathering place that adds a sense of pride and identity to a neighborhood. Breweries act as a “third place” outside of the home and workplace. Similar to coffee shops, breweries are replacing libraries and recreational centers. And with an absence of distracting television screens playing sports games, community members are able to engage with one another, even playing games like Jenga or Cards Against Humanity. Food trucks, trivia nights, and live music also contribute to a microbrewery’s lively atmosphere.