Hopworks Urban Brewery: A Case of Sustainable Beer


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.

AuthorsMadeleine Pullman, Jacen Greene, Devin Liebmann, Nga Ho and Xan Pedisich
InstitutionPortland State University, United States
Competition Year2015
PlaceFirst Prize
TrackCorporate Sustainability
Key WordsCraft Brewery, Beer, Break-even, Sustainability Manager
CoursesMarketing, Operations & Supply Chain Management, Human Resources
Target AudienceMBAs and Advanced Undergrads
Permission RightsThis case is part of the oikos free case collection. Download a free online copy below. If you are a faculty member and you are interested in teaching this case, you can request a free teaching note by sending us an email to freecase@oikosinternational.org.
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posted June 24, 2015

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