Local Booze + Brews: An Examination of the Craft Distillery + Microbrewery Industries in New York City

Urban Planning Thesis

Danielle Dowler

Stacey Sutton, advisor

This study examined the microbrewery and craft distillery industries in New York City. Current state legislation passed suggests that this industry is growing, and more needs to be implemented to foster its growth. This study asked whether the microbrewery and craft distillery industry is growing within New York City, and whether there is a cluster forming which may provoke New York City to activate local legislative initiatives. The purpose of this thesis was threefold: first, to examine industry trends in NYC and the metro-area since the reemergence of microbreweries in the 1990s to present day, and the reappearance of craft distilleries in 2004 to present day; second, to analyze the effect of City and State policy on breweries and distilleries in NYC; and to further the academic conversation about economic localism and urban agglomeration economies in terms of production and distribution within the city boundaries.

This thesis included spatial analysis that identifies the significance of spatial patterns, interviews of microbrewery and craft distillery owners, and descriptive economic analysis (percent change). The interviews of the microbrewery and craft distillery owners add a qualitative layer to the data and identification of factors and perceptions of legislative intervention. The economic analysis served to identify the growth of this industry over time. The study served as a thorough examination of a growing niche sector and added to the current academic discourse regarding the formation of industry clusters.