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Brewing, Social responsibility of business -- Case studies, Sustainable development


About the Related Video

Hopworks Urban Brewing: A Case of Sustainable Beer, Interview with Christian Ettinger

About the Case Study

Founded in 2007 in Portland, Oregon, Hopworks Urban Brewery is a sustainability-focused brewpub that produces certified organic beer. The State of Oregon is the second largest producer of hops, a main ingredient in beer, in the United States, and also has more craft breweries per capita than any other state. The metro area of Portland, home to over 2 million people, has over 84 craft breweries within its borders.

The craft brewing industry has grown rapidly in the United States over the last decade, with an annualized growth rate of 9.6% from 2009–2014 and a $14.3 billion market in 2013. Craft brewers are small enterprises, producing fewer than six million barrels of beer per year, employing both traditional and innovative brewing methods, and focusing on quality products and connecting with their local community.

To date, Hopworks has thrived in this competitive environment, producing over 12,000 barrels of beer per year while staying carbon neutral and diverting 98.6% of their total waste from landfills. Hopworks’ top quality beers have won prestigious national awards. Additionally, Oregon’s Governor has honored the brewery for its achievements as a sustainable business. However, to expand, Hopworks is faced with a number of key decisions that affect its sustainability both economically and ecologically. Christian Ettinger, founder and brewmaster of Hopworks, must make strategic decisions about capital investments, labor allocations, and even the future of their organic certification as he executes a growth plan in line with their sustainable values. In this case, students will be challenged with analyzing all aspects of a sustainability-focused business and considering the many choices a craft brewer, or any small business owner, faces.


This case study was awarded 1st place in the 2015 OIKOS Global Case Writing Competition - Corporate Sustainability.

Copyright © 2015 by the authors. This case was prepared as a basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate the effective or ineffective handling of an administrative situation.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit

This case is accompanied by a teaching note, available as a supplemental file.

The article can be found online at:

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2015_CS_free case_Hopworks_TN.pdf (274 kB)
Free Teaching Note