Planting the Seed: Innovation Diffusion of Craft Breweries in Florida

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Though the craft brewing industry has witnessed significant growth in the last two decades, Florida saw a delay in craft brewery development, from very few breweries in the 1990s to an exponential increase in the mid-2010s. Though geographers have examined consumers’ interests in beer, none have questioned why growth is uneven in Florida, and, moreover, what role economics, identity, and politics play in the establishment of craft breweries. This study sought to understand why Florida lagged behind most of the U.S. in craft brewery expansion. We hypothesized that the unique features of the craft brewing industry (strong interpersonal connections, economic strategies, geography, politics, and identity) created both a means and hindrance to diffusion. Using qualitative and quantitative methodologies, this exploratory study concentrated on 87 microbreweries operating from 2013 until early 2016. Informal, unstructured and/or semi-structured interviews were conducted with 26 craft brewery employees, and participant observations were collected at 14 beer industry-focused events. We used diffusion analysis to understand the spread of craft breweries, considering the role of external and internal influences on permeation. Results indicate that Florida craft brewing follows a unique pattern of distribution contrary to most models, as craft brewers rely on internal sources of influence. The social aspect of brewing is the predominant influence of diffusion. As craft brewing is social, it is noted that the initial pause in growth stems from possible risk reluctance by early adopters. Despite internal influence growth, external influences may have created barriers. Florida’s legal restrictions limited expansion for craft breweries due to distribution boundaries. Craft breweries saw an exponential increase following the lessening of beer-related laws. Future research is needed to determine if this phenomenon is true across other regions of the United States.


The Geography of Beer


Springer, Cham




College of Arts and Sciences

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