January 1, 2014

Two reports shine light on craft brewing in AmericaCraft beer brewing has become almost as big a part of the American dining scene over the past few years as soup or salad. Microbreweries have been popping up in towns and cities all across the country offering in-house beers with flavor profiles ranging from traditional ales to experimental styles that taste like they’ve been made with potpourri.

But what is often lost in all of the hype is the economic impact this process, which was once only the domain of large beer companies and small homebrew clubs, can have on the neighborhoods where these establishments operate.

Quantifying craft brewery impact

According to a recent analysis by the Brewers Association – a trade group that is based in Colorado and represents small and independent beer makers – the craft brew industry added nearly $34 billion to the national economy in 2012. That money was spread out fairly widely from coast to coast, but the states that experienced the largest economic boost would not surprise most beer aficionados.

California, at $4.7 billion, was the largest beneficiary, and its total was more than two times the second state on the list. The performance of two states in particular – Texas, which came in second at $2.3 billion, and Colorado, which was fifth on the list with $1.6 billion – further cemented their place in the hierarchy of American craft brewing.

Both of those states were already considered craft brew havens on an anecdotal level, but the Brewers Association analysis backs those assessments up on a quantitative level. Colorado’s performance was particularly impressive, as it also finished second in per capita economic impact. And that should be good news for anyone who has taken Colorado culinary classes or a Texas cooking program, since those states will likely continue to see their microbrewery and brewpub profiles continue to grow in the coming years.

On-premise craft beer sales slowing

While the Brewers Association report puts some numbers on the craft brew business, it doesn’t speak to current trends in the market. Restaurant Sciences, and independent tracker of food and beverage sales throughout the U.S., recently revealed that on-premises sales of craft brews has gone flat in recent months.

The firm only speculated as to the reason for that flattening, pointing to rising prices and possible market saturation. However, that only means on-site consumption of craft beer has leveled off, leaving a lot of room for innovative craftsmen to develop new products that restart an upward trend and take advantage of the billions of dollars that are spent on microbrews in the U.S. on an annual basis.