Craft brewing is one of the great entrepreneurial success stories of the past few decades. For the longest time, America's beer industry was dominated by a few big corporate brewers that produced little but watery swill. But a few small entrepreneurs who loved good beer thought there might be a market for it. Turns out they were right.
Yet as A. Barton Hinkle explains, crony capitalism now threatens to strangle that entrepreneurial spirit. Last week, Virginia officials decided to hand out more than $30 million in government subsidies to Stone Brewing Co., which will soon open its first brewery east of the Mississippi in Richmond. As Hinkle notes, the special favors conferred upon Stone must make central Virginia's longtime craft brewers gag.