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Big Reasons to Stay Small

Three owners of very small breweries explain why running their businesses without investors—or even many employees—has helped keep them afloat.

Kate Bernot Nov 13, 2023 - 13 min read

Big Reasons to Stay Small Primary Image

Mike Karnowski at Zebulon. Photo: Ash Patino/Generic Brand Human.

Until recently, growth was the norm in the craft-brewing industry. Growing market share, growing production volumes—all signs pointed toward getting bigger and taking the necessary risks to do so.

Of course, there have always been outliers: brewery owners who built deliberately small companies, sometimes employing only themselves or one other person. When the pandemic upended sales models and the category’s growth slowed, some of those purposefully small breweries began to look not just nimble but also, perhaps, better protected from increasingly turbulent market forces.

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