With over 230 breweries and brewpubs spread over the North Carolina landscape, what are the economic impacts the average person can see in their day-to-day lives? To present this, we must delve into the numbers as a platform, so bear with me. The North Carolina economy can thank the beer industry directly for nearly 29,000 jobs, $3.2 billion in output, and just over $1.65 billion in tax revenue through business, personal, and consumption taxes. Additionally, breweries and beer importers generate nearly $8.8 billion in economic activity and nearly 59,000 jobs indirectly through suppliers. This includes manufacturers of bottles and cans, cardboard case boxes, brewing equipment, and marketing, as well as raw product manufacturing industries (e.g. agriculture, mining, construction, government, etc.). These numbers are collected from studies conducted by Beer Serves America, an organization which seeks to explain the beer industry’s economic impact in the United States economy as well as state-by-state impact and employment numbers.
So, just how do these numbers work? How does the beer industry have such a far reaching arm across many of the industries within an economy? It comes down to resources and resource management. Brewing beer requires equipment made from things like mined ores, which get transported for manufacturing. Hops, malts, and barley require farming, which has its own resource needs as well as labor, and transport. Government is also involved both because ingestibles are highly regulated as well as is alcohol. These sectors’ involvement create a web of money, insuring a diverse portfolio of revenue.
A prime example of this is the Sierra Nevada move to Asheville in January of 2012. Craft beer was already more than present in the area in and around Asheville, but with most of the breweries still being small, resources were expensive to import. The inclusion of the California craft-beer giant allowed for a greater import quantity, lowering the prices because of increased supply. This in turn presents cheaper and more readily available goods for the smaller breweries in the area to pick from. Furthermore, the drive for increased local production has set some farmers on a path of providing all needed grains for beer production, which ensures better quality products. It’s true that Sierra Nevada introduces some competition for these smaller breweries, but it also provides a bump-up in tourists looking to taste what “Beer City USA” can provide. This competition doesn’t appear to be over with the opening of New Belgian’s “Liquid Center” in May of 2016.
The rise of Western Carolina’s craft-beer scene has not only been seen and enjoyed by the regular brewery visitor, but also by the everyday citizen enjoying the value of their dollar. Not only do we get to drink some of the best brews in the country, but the economy gets a well diversified boost for each beer you drink. This is not to warrant excessive indulgence, but feel free to savor each dollar you spend for it goes to the industry you love in the economy you live.