David vs. Goliath

How three mighty mites have managed to carve out niches in the face of competition from brewers big and small, Amazon, and SAP's Ariba software unit.

Oskar Blues vs. MillerCoors
DAV18 oskar blues

The challenge: Getting a toehold in a market with more than 2,000 U.S. craft brewers and a few dominant global titans.

What he did: Dale Katechis, 44, never expected to run a multimillion-dollar operation when he started Oskar Blues Restaurant in tiny Lyons, Colo., in 1997. "Banks wouldn't lend me any money," recalls Katechis, who used credit card cash advances for seed money. But when he started brewing beer in the basement and, later, canning customer favorites like Dale's Pale Ale, the company took off. His beer operation soon spread to a nearby 100-year-old barn and eventually to a 43,000-square-foot brewery too. Now one of the fastest-growing U.S. craft brewers, Oskar Blues has annual sales of $31 million. It launched a production facility in Brevard, N.C., in December -- as well as a mountain-bike startup called REEB Cycles. Yep, that's "beer" spelled backward.

  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated February 28 2013 10:44 AM ET
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