Beer poured $250 billion into economy last year

Between sales, jobs and tax revenue, brewers are picking up a larger share of the tab.

By Jason Notte Mar 21, 2013 3:48PM
Credit: 2011 Staci Kennelly/Flickr/Getty Images
 Caption: Pint of beer on barThe next time someone hassles you for cracking open a beer on a weekday before 5 p.m. or when their child is in the pub trying to enjoy a good round of ketchupy french-fry flinging, tell them you're not just drinking a beer: You're supporting a $250 billion American industry.

The folks at beer industry lobbying group The Beer Institute and the the beer distribution group National Beer Wholesalers Association released their bi-annual economic impact study on Thursday and discovered that America's total beer industry produced $246.6 billion in economic activity last year. That's more than 2,800 breweries, 3,700 distributors and 576,000 bars and stores dumping $49.1 billion in tax dollars into the nation's coffers.

That's also 1.1 million jobs paying out $31.8 billion in wages and benefits each year, though that generously lumps in convenience store, restaurant and stadium workers with brewery and distributor employees. That said, there's no questioning the growth of an industry where breweries numbered fewer than 500 as recently as 1993.

So who gets credit for the growth? Small regional and craft brewers insist they do, as craft beer industry group The Brewers Association recently released figures indicating that craft beer sales rose 15% by volume and 17% in dollars during 2012 and now constitute 6.5% of the beer market's volume and 10.2% of its sales.

Impressive, but not even close to the whole story. Not included in the Brewers Association's numbers are large brewers like Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) and MolsonCoors (TAP), regional brewers like D.G. Yuengling and imports like Heineken USA and Corona importer Crown. That's a shame, since A-B shipments were up 0.6% in 2012, Yuengling's production jumped 10.6% and Crown and Heineken put out 3.5% and 5% more beer, respectively, according to Beer Marketer's Insights.

Together, all U.S. breweries employ nearly 44,000 workers, pay out $3.9 billion in wages and benefits a year and buy $850 million in hops, barley and yeast from American producers. U.S. and import brewers both fuel nearly 130,000 jobs in distribution and drive the system that gets your beer from the brewery to the racks.

Is it perfect? No. The small brewers hate the three-tier system that keeps them from self-distributing in many states and the big brewers don't understand why the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout and AC Golden Winterfest isn't "craft." But it's all part of an industry that's as big a part of the American economy as livestock, business travel and health and wellness products. While brewers will likely keep squabbling over who's a soulless monopoly and who's an effete, aloof member of the hop-heavy cool kids' club, maybe this one bit of good news can get everyone to the same table together to toast a job well done.

More on moneyNOW

Mar 21, 2013 4:15PM
Beer - It's not just for breakfast anymore.  Support your local microbrewery!
Mar 21, 2013 5:46PM
I am happy to know I've been doing my part to support the economy! Mrs. Blooper are you listening?
Mar 21, 2013 6:41PM
While I'd have to admit that I do enjoy drinking beer, I can't help but think that cannabis legalization is a much safer alternative to alcohol.
Mar 21, 2013 5:33PM

I am all for buying American but my beer I need an import. I drive an American made car I do my best to fined American made threads. I even paid more for my American made flat screen TV. I look at labels I try to buy American first but my beer I need an import. Nothing taste so good as Heineken  Lets just face it America dose not make a good beer some are good enough and American Microbrews are a hit of miss but one Samuel Adams but then if you can fined it.  

Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

Trending NOW

What’s this?



  • Precious metals fell in electronic trade yesterday following the FOMC statement which conveyed no changes to the Fed's current policy course. As expected, the FOMC reduced the monthly pace of tis asset purchases by $10 bln to $15 bln and maintained the "considerable time" language in its forward guidance. 
  • Dec gold continued to trade lower and fell as low as $1216.30 per ounce in overnight trade, its lowest level since January. It managed to inch slightly ... More