The phrase "craft beer" is quaint and homey, but the industry is definitely not. More than 4,200 small, independent brewers had an estimated $22 billion worth of retail beer sales last year. So why would entrepreneurs try to squeeze onto the crowded bar shelf?
The beer lovers behind Alementary Brewing, a Hackensack, New Jersey-based craft brewery set to open this month, think they've found the essential ingredients to make it big.
"North Jersey has been left sort of largely out of [brewery growth]," Alementary co-founder Blake Crawford said. "We think that just that alone along with our relatively small scale is going to keep us local, keep us relevant for the crowd."
"Build relationships," co-founder Mike Roosevelt said. "One of the things that we're going to do is have industry preview nights where we invite local bar owners to come try and sample the beer before it's really out there. Build up some buzz, get them interested in having it on their shelves."
"As long as you're avoiding all those middlemen, you know if we're selling you directly in the tasting room, selling you a pint of beer, or we're selling directly to another bar, the profit margins are pretty good," Crawford said.
Profit margins for each beer sold can be upward of 40 or 50 percent when a brewer takes the do-it-yourself approach, he added.
The U.S. currently has more craft breweries than ever before, according to the Brewers Association. And Alementary Brewing is betting there is room for even more.