Local breweries contribute $1.7 billion to Washington’s economy


The Brewers Association (BA), the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, just released its 2016 Economic Impact Report. The report studied the economic impact of craft breweries* on both the national and state economies.

For Washington, now home to more than 350 breweries, the economic impact was measured at over $1.7 billion in 2016. In terms of jobs, the state’s breweries provide 13,306 jobs that paid on average $47,355 annually.

The Brewers Association’s biennial analysis, which features economic data of craft brewing for all 50 states, is the largest and most comprehensive state-by-state report of its kind. This is a biennial report, so the study examined a two year span (2015 and 2016).

In 2016, small and independent craft brewers contributed $67.8 billion to the U.S. economy. That’s a 21.7 percent increase from 2014. 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 and brewery taprooms sell.

Nationally, craft brewers were also responsible for more than 456,373 full-time equivalent jobs, a 7.5 percent increase from 2014, with 128,768 jobs directly at breweries and brewpubs, including serving staff at brewpubs.

“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,” says Bart Watson, Chief Economist for the 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 by state. In Washington, the economic impact of craft brewing was measured at more than $1.7 billion ($1,770,620,0000). In Oregon, the economic impact was measured at nearly $2 billion ($1,987,919,00).

Yes, the craft beer industry has seen some changes over the past two years that include brewery closures, reorganization, consolidation, and other adjustments, but the Brewers Association’s report suggests that things are not at all dire and, despite what individuals might see on a hyper-local level, the industry continues to grow.

Before you criticize or question the report’s results, as I am sure some people will want to do, you can learn about the methodology here.

* The study measures the contribution of American craft brewers, which the Brewers Association describes as small, independent, and traditional.

  • Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships.
  • Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic
    interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.
  • Traditional: A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs), like Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Smirnoff Ice, are not considered beers.

Brewers that do not fall under this definition were not included in this study. In addition, this study does not include non-beer beverage alcohol products of craft brewers like cider and FMBs (though it does include other non-beer products such as food).


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