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Arbor Brewing Company

114 E Washington
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Matt & Rene Greff

Ann Arbor is the hot spot for craft brewing. Could mircobreweries become a significant economic engine?
?RENE (pause): It is a growth industry in Michigan. Definitely in Washtenaw County. We are poised to take advantage of that in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti more than any other place.?
MATT: It's another feather in Washtenaw County's cap. Ann Arbor in particular. It just continues to add to the perception of this area, and why you would want to spend time here.??

Craft brewing makes up about 5 percent of beer consumption today nationally. How big do you see that number becoming?
?MATT:  The Pacific Northwest has substantially higher numbers (Oregon is estimated to be as high as 18 percent) and Michigan is still under 2 percent. Those numbers will continue to grow. The sales for the big breweries are flat. They're all scrambling now to get as many microbreweries into their portfolio as possible.?
RENE: The first couple of years, the distributors that we share with the big [breweries] didn't show us a lot of love. That has changed in the last year and a half, because they realize this is the growth segment and investing some time into our brand makes sense.?
MATT: The Michigan Brewers Guild set a goal of getting to 5 percent of sales within the next five years. I would love to see the national average get to double digits in the next five years.

??I'm surprised the numbers are so low.
?MATT (laughs): It's amazing. There are more than 80 microbreweries in Michigan and they only account for 1.5 percent of sales. ??I've heard brewers say macrobrew domination is an aberration created by Prohibition, and we are trending back toward regional beers and neighborhood breweries.

Do you agree?
?RENE: The stage was set with prohibition. The truth is we are a mass-produced society where a vast majority of people consume mass-produced crap. If it were just Prohibition it would have reversed itself by now. Craft beer has been on the scene 30 years.?
MATT: Prohibition accelerated the shrinking of the industry.
RENE: You'll see our bigger breweries like Bell's and New Belgium become of interest to the bigs when they reach a point where they are of financial interest.
?MATT: Anheuser-Busch is already experimenting with it. They failed in their experiment with Red Hook. They have a controlling stake in Goose Island now, but they are letting the people who started it keep running it. It's going to be interesting to see what happens in the next 5-10 years.? ?

Will we reach a point where the market share of the likes of Budweiser, Miller and Coors go the way of the Big Three's market share?
?RENE: It won't happen in our lifetime.?
MATT: The reason it won't is because of the distribution system in this country. That's where the wholesalers make their money and they make a lot.

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