Fans of craft beer would drink more of it if shipping across state lines was legalized—but that remains an uphill battle in the fragmented craft brewing space.
While there are some 9,400 craft breweries in operation, just 11 states and Washington DC allow interstate D2C shipping.
To call attention to the issue, Sovos ShipCompliant and the Brewers Association recently commissioned a survey by The Harris Poll of 756 regular craft beer drinkers—defined as Americans ages 21+ who drink craft beer at least once monthly.
Among the respondents, 88% believe there should be greater legal access to D2C beer shipping, and 81% had tried a craft beer while traveling and expressed a desire to be able to purchase it at home.
Nearly three quarters (72%) of respondents said they would spend $50 or more monthly on D2C-shipped craft beer, and 51% would spend $100 or more.
Each state that permits interstate D2C beer shipping “maintains its own varying rules governing the practice,” Sovos ShipCompliant and the Brewers Association said in releasing the survey results
For example, Rhode Island allows it—but only for beer that was sold to a consumer who was physically present at the brewery’s premises at the time of purchase.
Much of the pushback to D2C shipping comes from wholesalers protecting their in-state turfs and the traditional three-tier alcohol distribution system—manufacturers to wholesalers to retailers.
As noted in the report, 2022 “began with optimism” as D2C legislation was introduced in several states.
“Then the reality of legislating—full of politicking and dealmaking—began to erode the effect of those bills until they had all succumbed to a lack of support, many dying quietly in committee.”
Meanwhile, big companies with broad financial and political resources have been backing away from craft beer.
As reported by American Craft Beer, last year Anheuser-Busch-owned Platform Beer Co. in Cleveland shut down.
In February, Brewbound reported staff cuts at A-B’s craft breweries in California, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
In a statement to Good Beer Hunting, A-B executive Andy Thomas said “Winning in craft remains a key pillar of our strategy to lead and develop the premium segment—but winning means something different in today’s marketplace than it did a few years ago.”