Can Craft Breweries Have a Positive Impact on Crime?

By Farrell Tiller, Economic Development Manager

RMA has observed firsthand craft breweries facilitating economic development in client cities such as Oakland Park, Pompano Beach, Titusville and many others. It is no secret that breweries tend to have a positive impact on the revitalization of a community. However, little has been made on the effects (positive or negative) breweries can have on crime in an area. With October 2nd marking International Nonviolence Day, we decided to explore this idea further.

Many city officials see breweries and traditional bars/nightclubs in the same light in terms of being a nuisance to the community and a hotbed for crime. Brewers will argue that unlike other alcohol establishments, breweries provide a much calmer environment that is often well-lit, family and pet-friendly, and therefore not conducive to crime and violence. Breweries and brewpubs are often located in industrial or edgy parts of town that were once crime-ridden; However, by bringing people, activity, and awareness, they may actually help improve the attractiveness and safety of the area. Craft Brewers also tend to be good stewards of the community that actively seek ways to improve the area where they do business, and often live in. The Brewers Association estimates that American Craft Breweries donated an estimated $73.4 million to charitable causes in 2016. Breweries in Wilmington and Philadelphia have embraced community activism by offering jobs and workforce training to former criminals and homeless as a means to reduce crime and enhance overall well-being.

A study performed by Julie Wartell, a lecturer at University of California-San Diego, sought to answer the question “Do craft breweries and brewpubs create less crime and disorder than non-brewery alcohol establishments?” Wartell’s study analyzed police calls for service within 50 feet of alcohol establishments in the City of Portland for the year 2015. The 101 total alcohol establishments were broken down into brewpubs, beer/wine bars, and full liquor bars. According to the research, brewpubs accounted for only 4% of calls for service while beer/wine bars received 30% and full liquor bars 66%. Brewpubs averaged only 1.7 calls annually while beer/wine Bars average 4.1 and full liquor bars 5.5.

While more research will need to be gathered to show the relationship between craft breweries and crime in an area, Wartell’s study is further evidence that breweries can be excellent neighbors. The findings so far have shown that breweries can often make significant contributions to the local community through many different channels and should not be lumped into the same category as other businesses with a reputation for rowdiness and crime.