Micro-trends: “Brewery” vs “Craft Brewery” in Baltimore

In the past 5-10 years Baltimore has been seeing a resurgence of Beer Culture with new microbreweries popping up over the city, a burgeoning of homebrew clubs and enthusiasts and the host of many great yearly beer related events including the largest homebrew conference in the United States in June. If you are curious as to when Baltimore was considered a beer city in the past then I suggest you watch this documentary about Baltimore’s rich beer history.

This analysis is about how people are interacting online with local breweries and takes into account search volume index. This is a quick armchair analysis of these trends as a jumping off point to what we would do in more detail at Black Label. Therefore, in full disclosure, it’s important to remember that these can often be vanity metrics and any conclusions I may draw from the data are quick and open to more research to come to more conclusive results.

The Questions

  • How does Baltimore compare over time with other regions of the United States?
  • What does Baltimore’s microbrew scene look like between the local breweries?

The Analysis

The main inspiration for this post is to look at micro-trends among the local breweries in Baltimore and therefore this analysis will be narrowed down to the smaller breweries and beers. We have some great regional breweries in Baltimore like Heavy Seas and Flying Dog that I am purposefully leaving off this list since their stats will most likely be on a more macro level than these.

First let’s look at how Baltimore fares compared to a segment of other locations in the United States with different grades of thriving microbrew scenes. Denver (CO), San Diego (CA), Cleveland (OH), and Philadelphia(PA) should give us a good idea of where Baltimore lays as this is a smattering of different regions, longer/shorter beer histories and different sized populations. This is meant to give a general scope of how Baltimore compares to other cities.

For those into craft beer, this is as one may expect. Denver and San Diego are arguably the two most popular beer cities in America. There is a gap separating these two cities with the the rest of the segment. The graph gives an idea of the popularity of beer within these cities but let’s try to narrow this down to not just breweries, but micro-breweries. “Craft Beer” is synonymous with “Microbreweries” but we get a little bit better results with the search term.

This evens the playing field a little bit and has some more interesting results. The spike in Baltimore through 2015 is especially appealing. The reason for this is due, most likely, to the Baltimore Craft Beer Festival, which most likely drawing search traffic to their site leading up to the event through promotions throughout the year. However, it is interesting that the search volume index is just as high as the larger craft beer cities. This is a good example of how seo can really be effective, particularly leading up to an event.

Let’s Go Local.

Next, we can dig into the local craft beer scene a little deeper. Because the data for these breweries is so small, Google Trends doesn’t offer us much help and we must take a more targeted approach to how we compare the local breweries. Therefore, we will be comparing organic search, paid search, backlinks and general website traffic across the following breweries.

1. Union Craft Brewery
2. Waverly Brewing Company
3. Baltimore Washington Beer Works
4. Oliver Brewing Company
5. Full Tilt Brewing
6. Brewers Art

Here are the results of the domain analysis for each of these local breweries. Click to enlarge.


On first look, Union Craft is the clear leader in popularity in organic search as well as sites that are linking back to the brewery with The Brewer’s Art and Baltimore/Washington Beer works trailing far behind. However, The Brewer’s Art does attract more traffic with less keywords, approximately half compared to those who have less traffic like Waverly and Baltimore Washington Beer Works. Another unique identifier in the search trends pops up when you look at the difference in referring domains between The Brewer’s Art and Union Craft. Union Craft gets gets over 7 times the amount of traffic through backlinks through half of the referring domains. This means there are less sites with more backlinks to Union. Why this is the case would be something that we would want to dive into further with our clients at Black Label.

In Conclusion

The local beer landscape in Baltimore is growing and more popular than ever. Anyone who lives in the city and is part of the beer culture would be able to say that there has been a rise in the popularity of microbreweries in Baltimore and there have been many great beers produced from each of these places to contribute to that. However, this rise in popularity doesn’t show across digital media in the same way. Where there is a gap, there is an opportunity and there is a lot of potential for these local businesses to raise the awareness of their product not only within the region but across the United States promoting the local craft beer scene as a whole.

Author: Brent Hoffmann

Brent has a diverse background in graphic design, software development, and business strategy. With over 15 years of experience in the industry, he helps clients find solutions to technology problems, develop their content strategy and find ways to help them grow.

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