Virginia a leader in craft beer growth

Craft brewing in Virginia. (Courtesy C+R Research)
Craft brewing in Maryland. (Courtesy C+R Research)
Craft brewing in Maryland. (Courtesy C+R Research)
Craft brewing in D.C. (Courtesy C+R Research)
Craft brewing in D.C. (Courtesy C+R Research)
Craft brewing in Maryland. (Courtesy C+R Research)
Craft brewing in D.C. (Courtesy C+R Research)
Famed California craft brewing company, The Bruery, is opening its first brick-and-mortar store east of the Mississippi this fall in D.C.’s Union Market district. (AP Photo)(AP/Steve Helber)

WASHINGTON — There are now more than 7,000 registered craft brewers in the U.S., up from 1,500 in 2007 — and another 1,000 craft brewers nationwide are expected to come online this year.

Virginia, Maryland and the District account for 275 of them, with Virginia home to the lion’s share at 190. While that ranks Virginia 13th among states for the number of craft brewers, Virginia ranks 5th in the nation for growth, up 36 percent from the number of craft brewers in 2015.

Research firm C+R analyzed data from the Brewers Association to get a snapshot of the craft brewing industry in the nation. For Virginia, it is a big industry.

Craft brewers have an economic impact in the commonwealth of nearly $1.4 billion, with three breweries per 100,000 residents 21 years of age and older.

Virginia ranks 18th for barrels of craft beer produced each year, at almost 359,000, or the equivalent of 1.8 gallons for every adult resident.

Vermont is the craft beer capital of the United States, home to 11.5 breweries per 100,000 adults, with Montana, Maine, Oregon and Colorado rounding out the top five for number of breweries per capita.

According to the Brewers Association, Colorado and Vermont also top the nation’s list in terms of craft beer’s contribution to state economies.

Mississippi is the state with the fewest breweries per 100,000 adult residents, at 0.6.

C+R Research says southern states host the lowest number of craft breweries, due to restrictive liquor laws that give brewers a lot of hoops to jump through before opening. Until recently, laws in Georgia and Alabama had banned breweries from selling their beer directly to visitors.

The craft brewing industry contributed $76.2 billion to the U.S. economy in 2017, including breweries, wholesalers, retailers and non-beer products such as food and merchandise that brewpub restaurants and taprooms sell.

The industry also supports more than 500,000 jobs, including 135,000 jobs directly at breweries and brewpubs.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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