Craft Beer contributes $34 billion to the U.S. economy

It’s an impressive number: $34 billion. That figure represents the craft beer industry’s contribution to the U.S. economy, according to the Brewers Association (BA). The information comes to us today in the form of a press release (below).

Understand the definition. According to the Brewers Association, a craft brewery is small, independent and traditional. Small  is defined as annual production of six million barrels or less. Independent is defined as less than 25-percent owned by a non-craft brewing entity. Traditional is defined as, well, real beer ingredients (a malt-based flagship beer). By the BA standard, Redhook and Widmer are not a craft breweries because they are not independent — they’re part of Craft Brew Alliance, a publicly traded company. Boston Beer Co (Sam Adams) and Yuengling are both considered craft breweries even though each produces over two-million barrels of beer annually. It’s a tricky business, but the term craft brewer must be defined somehow. 

So, working with that definition, the Brewers Association calculated that craft breweries contributed $34 billion to the U.S. economy in 2012. That’s darned impressive. Before you get your knickers in a twist, remember that Washington and Oregon do not have really big craft breweries like Boston Beer Co, Yuengling & Sons, Sierra Nevada, or New Belgium. Also remember that Texas and California are much, much larger than us in terms of both geography and population. Also, recognize that Boston Beer Company produces most of its beer in Pennsylvania. Click here to see a list of the top 50 craft breweries in America (the largest breweries).

Here is the press release.

Craft Brewers’ Economic Contribution Reaches $34 Billion

California, Texas and New York Among Top-Grossing States

Boulder, CO • December 16, 2013—According to a new analysis by the Brewers Association (BA)—the not-for-profit trade association that represents the majority of U.S. breweries—small and independent American craft brewers contributed $33.9 billion to the U.S. economy in 2012.

The figure is derived from the total impact of beer brewed by craft brewers as it moves through the three-tier system (breweries, wholesalers and retailers), as well as all non-beer products that brewpub restaurants sell.

“With a strong presence across the 50 states and the District of Columbia, craft breweries are a vibrant and flourishing economic force at the local, state and national level,” said Bart Watson, staff economist, Brewers Association. “As consumers continue to demand a wide range of high quality, full-flavored beers, small and independent craft brewers are meeting this growing demand with innovative offerings, creating high levels of economic value in the process.”

In addition to the national impact, the BA examined output of the craft brewing industry by state, as well as the state economic contribution per capita for adults over 21.

Top Five States (2012)

State   –   2012 Output

1. California  –  $4.7 billion

2. Texas  –  $2.3 billion

3. New York  –  $2.2 billion

4. Pennsylvania  –  $2.0 billion

5. Colorado  –  $1.6 billion


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