In case there was any doubt about how big the craft-brewing industry has become -- or about its impact in Colorado -- the industry's trade group said today that small and independent craft brewers contributed $33.9 billion to the U.S. economy in 2012.
Colorado's craft brewers contributed $1.6 billion to that figure, according to the Boulder-based Brewers Association, making it the fifth most impactful state. California, at $4.7 billion, was responsible for the largest number, followed by Texas at $2.3 billion, New York at $2.2 billion, and Pennsylvania at $2 billion.
Perhaps more interesting, however, is the number that the BA got when it broke down the statistics based on population: In that analysis, Colorado landed in the second spot, contributing $436.50 to the industry for every person over the age of 21. Oregon was first, contributing $448.56 per person; the other three were Vermont, Maine and Montana.
The per capita number "shows how important Colorado's craft brewing industry is to that state's economy," says Bart Watson, the BA's staff economist.
Colorado was also fifth on the list when it came to employment, providing 19,251 jobs both in the industry and among its support industries.
The numbers from the BA are significantly higher than those reported in April 2012 by the Colorado Brewers Guild, which did a similar study with the University of Colorado; that study showed that Colorado breweries contributed $446 million to the economy.
Watson says there are several reasons for the discrepancy. The first is that the Guild study was for 2011, while the BA focused on 2012, and the industry grew significantly in that time.
But the biggest reason for the difference is because the BA examined not just the economic impact of breweries and brewpubs, but that of the industries that support breweries and brewpubs, such as distributors, liquor stores, bars and restaurants.
"It's apples to oranges," Watson explains. "Ours is a look at how [the craft-brewing industry] ripples through the economy."
Regardless of how the studies were done, Guild spokesman Steve Kurowski says the BA study provides valuable information: "We knew we were providing a huge dent from an economic standpoint and a jobs standpoint. These numbers reaffirm what we knew."
Kurowski says the Guild will release an updated version of its own report early next year.
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