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Craft beer study points to positive impact

Shore Craft Beer founder Ann Hillyer recently conducted a study on the economic impact of craft beer in Berlin, including how brewery Burley Oak effects other businesses. Preliminary results show an overwhelmingly positive uptick in commerce because of the influx of craft brewers.

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(May 24, 2018) According to a study by Ann Hillyer of Shore Craft Beer, more than 90 percent of the people surveyed said the presence of a craft brewery in Berlin affected their business. Of those who answered “yes,” 91.7 percent said the impact was positive.

Two thirds said the presence of craft beer affected revenue, while 25 percent said it did not and 8.3 percent were not sure.

Seventy percent said craft beer increased revenue, while 30 percent were not sure. Additionally, 75 percent said craft beer increased the number of customers and 25 percent were not sure.

Asked, “Does the quality and quantity of local craft beers produced in our region impact your business positively,” 83.3 percent said yes and 16.7 percent were not sure.

Hillyer said the survey was meant to canvas the effect of craft beer in general, although some of the questions specifically mention Burley Oak Brewing Company because it was a microcosm of the craft brewing industry’s relationship with communities.

She said the survey was distributed to local business owners last fall, “from shopping and retail places, to bars and restaurants, to the hotel.”

“I would like to see more businesses in Berlin respond, but there was not one person who believed that the presence of the brewery in the town had a negative impact, and that’s the biggest takeaway,” she said. “Everybody, universally, thinks it’s a positive impact … so I think that’s huge for the presence of breweries in towns and how important it is to downtowns.”

She said the study was designed to gauge the impact of breweries on tourism.

“We’re trying to make the shore a top-10 craft beer destination, so I want to show that the support of breweries across the state and across the shore is a good thing for all of our businesses – and for tourism in general,” Hillyer said.

With a relatively small sample size, about a dozen responders, Hillyer is asking more area business owners to participate in the online survey. The study is open to business owners in Berlin, and a separate study was started for Salisbury businesses.

“Until people understand how important breweries are to our region and to our businesses, the economic impact potential is huge, but right now Maryland is 47th in the nation per capita … and that’s pathetic,” she said.

Maryland, according to 2017 census data, is the 19th most populous state, with just over six million residents.

“I think we can do so much better,” Hillyer said. “If we can help the business environment for the breweries it helps everybody. It helps retailers. It helps union workers. But that data doesn’t exist and that’s why I want this data.”

Hillyer said general comments on the impact of breweries were also welcome. To contact her, email

“I’d love for more business owners to fill the surveys out, and if they’re just individuals they can type in they’re an individual and it matters to them, and I can separate out that data,” she said.

To participate in the survey, visit