This case is used in Darden's required first-year course, "Strategic Thinking and Action."
In 2015, Steve and Heidi Crandall, the founders of Devils Backbone Brewing, LLC (DBB), were looking back on eight years of unanticipated success and significant growth. DBB had created a destination, a brand, and beer that drew people from all over, and it was the largest craft brewery in its region. The entire community, not just loyal beer drinkers, had supported DBB. In addition to funding and zoning accommodations, so many local residents had built their own economic lives around what had been their "little brewery that could."
But the success had brought challenges, specifically in terms of growth. DBB was consistently not meeting demand in its existing markets and was receiving complaints about out-of-stocks. The Crandalls and their team had to figure out how to grow with, or preferably ahead of, demand for DBB's product. Should DBB build further capacity despite an already exhausted line of credit? Should it employ a contract brewer despite the local authenticity concerns such a move might stir up? Or should it just keep trying to manage business within its existing footprint, comfortably serving its loyal customer base?