Craft beer’s economic impact on Colorado grew nearly 50 percent last year to $1.7 billion, with much of the increase coming from the expansion of larger, independent breweries selling in more states and more retail outlets, according to a study released Thursday.
The record benefit came as the number of breweries in the state has soared over 350 — 358 as of Aug. 1, to be exact — and the number of people employed at craft breweries hit 7,776 by the end of last year, according to the study.
The Colorado Brewers Guild commissioned the study, which was conducted by the business research division of the University of Colorado-Boulder’s Leeds School of Business.
When using a multiplier effect that considers the sector’s impact on bars, restaurant, material suppliers and other related industries, craft beer is responsible for 12,085 jobs and $1.66 billion in output in the state that often is called the “Napa Valley of craft beer.”
The news coming from the annual report is not all rosy. Small breweries report concerns with diminishing access to capital as they seek to grow. And larger craft breweries are having more difficulty getting space on retail-store shelves as the industry becomes more crowded.
Well, all of that competition may not be that great for the breweries hustling for shelf space, but for the beer lovers of America it is a very bubble-filled golden age these days.
The big fear among craft beer brewers and drinkers is that the large companies that keep buying up the smaller breweries will ruin everything. It’s a valid concern only if, say, Anheuser-Busch and their ilk start changing the ingredients of the better smaller beers once they’ve bought them. That’s not very likely. Why ruin a good product you’ve just invested in? This isn’t like indie music, where it’s the product itself that often changes after “selling out”.
Will there be a point of diminishing returns if there are simply too many craft beers out there?
I certainly hope we get a chance to find out.