Just decades ago, craft brewing was nearly dead in the United States. The rise of supermarkets and the giant companies that served them nearly stamped out local and regional brewers. Anchor Brewing in San Francisco, which in 1965 had to be saved from bankruptcy by Fritz Maytag, heir to the Maytag appliance fortune, was almost the only craft brewer in the country. There was no Sierra Nevada and no Sam Adams, and there were no genuine IPAs being produced commercially anywhere in America.
But in the 1980s, entrepreneurial home-brewers started to launch companies. They found a thirsty nation yearning to be free of the commercial, bland lagers that filled supermarket aisles and flooded the airwaves with commercials that sold humor and sexism rather than good beer. Slowly the free market worked its magic, and craft beer began to become not just a viable business, but a phenomenon.
Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.