I open a brewery and start making beer. Then, when I’m making more than people drink at the brewery I keg / bottle / can it and sell it to a liquor store! Woohoo! What? That’s not how it works? If I make stuff I can’t sell it to whoever I want? It’s the whole “American Dream” thing isn’t it?
Where alcohol is involved it’s not that easy. The U.S. has what is called the three tier system. Wikipedia has an article with the basic explanation, but here’s how it affects Nebraska and Craft Brewers. Nebraska Craft Brewers asked for an exception – if I brew beer, why can’t I sell it directly to consumers, from the same place I brew it? Nebraska being made up of practical people, agreed. And, best I can tell, the distributors thought these Craft Breweries were quaint, and didn’t want to deal with the “tiny” amount of beer being brewed.
Now, liquor and wine sales are up, but overall beer sales have been relatively flat. The biggest brewers are seeing their sales not going up nearly as fast as they used too. Craft Breweries are what’s doing well, better than most people expected. So now “Big Beer” and the distributors who have the most to lose, want to stifle innovation, and expansion just to maintain their profit margins.
Craft Breweries are making a product they believe in, with passion and heart. Some blood and sweat, too. Big breweries just want to keep their shareholders happy by expanding profits, and market share.