Craft Beverages in Wake County: The Resources Needed to Thrive

— Written By Courtney Hotchkiss

The craft beer industry in North Carolina is alive and well; in Wake County alone there are 37 breweries, 6 distilleries, and 1 cider works. With a booming interest and expanding culture of craft beverages, exploring the industry’s relationship with sustainable tourism inspired researchers from NC State University’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management. A grant from the NC State University Outreach & Engagement Incentives Grants program enabled faculty and students to explore the key resources that contributed to the success of Wake County’s craft beverage industry. The results can be viewed in a newly published Extension report.

man brewing beer

Brewing beer.

“Breweries are a great attraction for tourists, but also a great hub for locals,” said Alyssa Stroker,  an undergraduate student and contributing author. 

“Many communities across North Carolina are interested in developing a craft beverage industry because of its potential for economic development,” explains Dr. Whitney Knollenberg, an assistant professor and principal investigator. “As we see an increase in the number of tourists interested in traveling for the purpose of consuming or participating in the production of craft beverages the impact of the craft beverage industry is magnified.” 

Following an analysis of 30 interviews with different stakeholders revealed seven inputs (resources that make the industry successful) and six outputs (positive outcomes for tourism and community). Stakeholder quotes supporting each input and output were compiled into a sleek, one-page factsheet. 

Stroker describes the tool as “useful as a reference, but [the tool] isn’t meant to be implemented directly. Beverage producers can discover what resources are needed and what they’d like to focus on to be successful and sustainable.” 

When asked what comments from the interviews stuck out to Claudia Gil Arroyo, a contributing author and PhD Student, she explained, “there is a particular characteristic I noticed in the craft beverage industry here; there is a lot of comradery. Each craft beverage is unique and one can’t replace the other. Producers don’t see each other exclusively as competition, but as partners.”

Dr. Knollenberg is looking ahead; “We hope that this knowledge can be used to help support the growth of craft beverage tourism across North Carolina.”

Extension Factsheet attach_file

Creating the Perfect Blend: Community Resources Needed to Support a Sustainable Craft Beverage Industry

The growing craft beverage industry is generating tourism in Wake County. This publication discusses the resources needed to sustain growth in the industry and the related benefits it produces to …