Colleen C. Myles does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Some scholars say beer and wine – and fermentation in general – helped develop civilization and shaped culture and landscapes over millennia.
Today, craft breweries, which are by definition small and independent and thus focus their production on innovative, small-scale methods rather than industrialized, mass-produced ones, are still playing that role.
They are increasingly prominent players in America’s social and environmental landscape, helping to produce what some people call fermented landscapes. They serve as community partners, and sometimes community leaders, to make change happen.
In recent research I conducted with colleagues Delorean Wiley, Walter Furness and Katherine Sturdivant, we found that craft breweries involve themselves in social and political change in three major areas: the environment, community and individual well-being, and the economy, the latter ranging from issues related to employee benefits to profit-sharing.