Skip to content
Home » Blog » Craft Beer Industry’s Growth and Private Equity Challenges

Craft Beer Industry’s Growth and Private Equity Challenges

Craft Beer Industry's Growth and Private Equity Challenges

The Craft Beer Industry and the Wave of Private Equity Acquisitions

The craft beer industry has witnessed an unprecedented growth spurt, burgeoning from a niche hobbyist arena to a booming business sector. Yet, as these breweries expand their footprint, they increasingly catch the eye of private equity companies looking to tap into this frothy market. This narrative has been exemplified in the journey of Catawba brewing, a beacon in the Western North Carolina beer scene, and its acquisition by Made By The Water, backed by the Montgomery, Alabama-based private equity investment firm, Wiregrass Equity Partners.

Understanding the Craft Beer Revolution

It all began with the passion for creating unique, quality brews that led to the craft beer revolution. Breweries like Catawba Brewing leveraged this passion, introducing beers such as White Zombie that resonated with beer enthusiasts‘ evolving palates. However, the rise of the craft beer industry did not just signal a shift in consumer preferences but also marked a significant business opportunity for investors, particularly private equity companies.

The Role of Private Equity in the Craft Beer Industry

Private equity firms have been pivotal in transforming the craft beer landscape. With their financial muscle, they’ve offered breweries the resources needed to scale, innovate, and reach a broader market. However, this influx of capital from private equity companies comes with its slew of challenges and concerns, as seen in Catawba Brewing’s story.

For many in the craft beer community, the involvement of private equity raises questions about the preservation of the original vision and values central to a brewery‘s identity. The transition from a family-owned operation to a component of a larger conglomerate can sometimes lead to a dilution of the brewery’s essence—a sentiment echoed by Bryan Ivey, once at the helm of Catawba Brewing’s taproom in Biltmore Village.

Transitioning with Grace: Keeping the Craft in Craft Beer

Despite the tumultuous changes, the spirit of craft beer can be preserved through thoughtful transitions that honor the brewery’s original mission while embracing the growth opportunities provided by investments. Transparency with employees and the community, maintaining quality and innovation, and respecting the brewery’s heritage are key to navigating these acquisitions successfully.

Challenge Solution
Preserving Brewery Identity Emphasize core values and original branding in business operations
Employee Morale Clear communication and reassurances about job security
Quality Maintenance Invest in quality control and continue innovation within the product line


The craft beer industry’s allure is undeniable, with its rich textures of community, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit. The incursion of private equity companies like Wiregrass Equity Partners through acquisitions such as Made By The Water presents both opportunities and challenges. For the craft beer community, the essence lies in embracing growth while staying true to the core values that brewed their success. Catawba Brewing’s journey reflects this intricate dance—a testament to the resilience and adaptability inherent in the craft beer industry.

Share this post on social!

Ethan Parker is a seasoned craft beer aficionado with a palate fine-tuned through years of exploring breweries worldwide. As the founder of Brew Scoop, he blends his passion for storytelling with his extensive knowledge of brewing techniques and beer culture. Ethan’s dedication to the craft beer community is evident in his efforts to educate and connect beer lovers while advocating for sustainable brewing practices.