Meijer sees growing thirst for Michigan craft beer

WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) — The growing thirst for Michigan craft beer is spilling into the checkout lanes of Meijer.

The retail giant says it’s seen a double-digit growth in craft beer sales within the past three years. When it comes to Michigan-based craft beer, Meijer says sales have jumped 20 percent since last year.

The economic impact of local craft breweries tops $100 million, the retailer says.

Meijer began carrying its first craft brew more than 20 years ago. Back then, Bell’s Oberon was available at only one store in Kalamazoo. Since then, the industry has grown and so has Meijer’s craft beer aisle.

“It used to be you had a 20 foot section of total beer, then it grew up to 40 feet. Now you look at our average set, (it) is about 120 feet and we dedicate a little over 40 percent, almost 50 percent of that space to craft beer… So you look at this store today, we’ve got 24 feet of Michigan craft beer,” explained Rich O’Keefe, Meijer’s senior buyer of beer.

Meijer now sells more than 550 craft beers from 220 local breweries. Michigan craft beer sales account for more than 30 percent of those sales, the retailer says.