Economic Growth – How the Craft Brewing Industry Is Benefiting the Economy

The economic rollercoaster the nation has been stuck on for the last few years shows no signs of ending soon. Political pundits on both sides of the aisle point to recovery and recession in the same breath, depending on just what point they want to emphasize and what constituents they’re speaking to. While the politicians might have a wishy-washy view of what’s going on (don’t they always?), the fact of the matter is that what economic growth there has been has been limited.

The latest jobs report for the US was somewhat startling – only 18,000 jobs were created, when the expectation was far, far more than that. Those figures put the kibosh on most of the talk of economic improvement, at least along “traditional” lines. However, there are a few bright spots that deserve some attention – most notably in the world of craft brewing.

Craft Brewing – An Economic Force to Be Reckoned With

Most industries in the US have experienced a significant downturn over the course of the last few years as the recession inexorably tightened its grip. However, one area has seen significant growth in almost every state in the country – craft brewing. Almost every area within craft brewing (including nano brewing, microbreweries, brewing supply stores and more) has experienced growth rather than stagnation or a decline.

In fact, the growth of this industry has been so dramatic and so marked that it has big breweries worried. They’re so worried that they’re going to great lengths to get their fingers in that particular pie. Budweiser’s purchase of Goose Island is only one sign of just how much getting involved in the craft brewing industry means to big brewers. There are others, too – Blue Moon is a brand owned and operated by Coors though many people are unaware of that fact.

How Is Craft Beer Benefiting the Economy?

The success of craft beer is easily accepted given the information above. However, how is the industry benefiting the economy? Several key areas can be defined here over a wide variety of different industries. Let’s take a look:

Nano Breweries Impact the Local Economy

Nano breweries are tiny, though they have a very large impact. Even a simple home brewery that does not supply beer to any bars or restaurants has an impact on the local economy. For instance, home brewers and nano breweries help keep brewing supply stores alive and thriving. They also benefit the national and global economies through purchases made via online supply stores and specialty providers. 

This impact has been so great that quite a few new supply stores have opened during a time when many businesses are closing their doors. Their success is not short-lived, either. Nano breweries with an eco-conscious bent or those focused on using locally sourced products also benefit local farmers and producers of everything from wheat to oak barrels and everything in between.

Microbreweries Ramp Up the Economy

While home brewers and nano breweries have certainly had a considerable impact on the economy in many areas, microbreweries (nano breweries bigger brothers) have had an even more dramatic effect. You’ll find a significant number of ways that larger craft brewers are benefiting the economy.

Construction – In order to brew, bottle, can and ship their product, microbreweries need to have the right facilities. This usually means new construction or retrofitting an older building to be in compliance with modern health and safety laws. That opens up a number of construction jobs that can last for a long time, depending on the size of the facility being built or renovated. This can employ everyone from stonemasons to HVAC specialists, carpenters to steelworkers.

Equipment – In addition to having the brewing facilities constructed, microbreweries also have to invest in a very wide range of specialized equipment. From brew kettles to holding and serving tanks, fermenters to filtration and clarification systems, breweries need a very wide range of equipment. It takes workers to produce that equipment and the growth within the industry has opened up quite a few jobs for Americans across the country. As more and more brewing companies open, more and more jobs are added.

Bottles, Cans, Caps and Sundry Items – Breweries need more than just equipment to brew their beer. They have to have a way to get it into packages so that consumers can enjoy the fruits of their labors. Bottles and cans in a variety of sizes are needed here, and this opens up further job opportunities.

Packaging Considerations – Every bottle and can, 6-pack, 12-pack, case or growler needs to have more than just the beer included. It needs to be labeled – that labeling needs to be attractive, but it also needs to be memorable and to resonate with the brand’s customers. Breweries turn to graphic designers to create those designs, and then to printing companies to get the designs onto glass, aluminum or cardboard. All of that requires workers to operate the machines, to create compelling designs and more – that equals even more jobs.

The End of the Line – The final product for many microbreweries ends up at a consumer’s home chilling in their refrigerator. Of course, quite a few end up in bars and restaurants, brewhouses and brewpubs across the country. The surging interest in craft beer has made it possible for more and more venues and establishments to spring into existence or for existing ones to add on to their offerings and hire more workers. It’s a win-win situation and it looks as though it will continue indefinitely.

As you can see, the world of craft brewing is much more than just the world of homebrewed beer. It’s a powerful force in the economy and is responsible for no small part of any economic recovery the country might be experiencing. How can you help? The best way is to get yourself down to a local bar or pub and order up a bottle of your favorite microbrew – keep those brewers doing what they do best!

Posted on July 25, 2011 and filed under The Business of Beer.