This paper investigates the motives behind the entrepreneurial activity in the Italian beer industry between the late 1980s and mid-1990s. The paper argues that the evolutionary dynamics of the new producers (microbreweries and brewpubs) must be connected to the dynamics of consumption, which have gradually changed consumer preferences and lifestyles since the 1980s. On the one hand, increasing revenues, growing interest in food knowledge, and the rise of new cultural and social meanings attached to food consumption generated a new demand for variety. On the other hand, international integration increased the knowledge of beer typologies and styles. These changes enabled new small firms to enter the market and produce differentiated specialised products. This paper suggests that more research is required on the role of demand to interpret the dynamics of industries. The argument and discussion are based on original in-depth interviews with the pioneering entrepreneurs in Italy’s craft beer segment.