Colorado Overtakes California As Nation's Biggest Beer Producer
Growth Of Craft Beers Sends Colorado Into No. 1 Spot
DENVER -- Just like its water, beer is flowing to other states from Colorado, which has overtaken California as the nation's biggest beer producer.
Colorado's brewing industry produced more than 23.3 million barrels of beer last year, compared with California's 22.8 million barrels, the Beer Institute, a national trade group, said Thursday. Figures compiled yearly by the group had shown California with the lead the past five years.
Part of the reason for growth in the state is the growing popularity of craft beers, which include Fort Collins' New Belgium Brewing Co., makers of Fat Tire, along with Anheuser Busch's production plant in Fort Collins, and Coors Brewing Co., which has been based in Golden since 1873.
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"I think it makes perfect sense," said Bryan Simpson, spokesman for New Belgium. "We have excellent water in which to brew, so you have a great foundation with that."
Eight major Colorado river systems, aside from providing plentiful water for brewing, also provide water to 10 western states.
A study by the Beer Institute and the National Beer Wholesalers Association estimates the beer industry contributes some $12.4 billion each year to Colorado's economy through it brewers, importers, distributors, and retailers. That includes 67,918 jobs that contribute $3 billion in wages and $1.6 billion in federal, state, and local taxes, according to the study.
"Colorado is tremendously important to the beer industry and produces a number of high quality brews enjoyed by adults around the country," Beer Institute president Jeff Becker said in a statement. "With a strong beer culture and a rich brewing history, it's no surprise the state has become number one."
While Colorado produces the most beer, not all of its consumed in the state. New Belgium, for example, supplies beer to 17 states from its brewery in Fort Collins. Anheuser Busch, the maker of Budweiser, supplies beer to 13 states from its plant, while Golden's Coors plant, which has a 20 million barrel a year capacity, supplies beer to distributors nationwide.
"We're proud of the positive impact our industry has on Colorado," Al Timothy, vice president of government affairs for Coors said. "We're also pleased to see the contribution made by Colorado's craft brewers. They bring excitement to the beer category and attract new consumers."
Simpson, whose company recently began distributing beer in Minnesota and Iowa, said tourism in the state helps the industry.
"There are a lot of people coming into the state, trying local beers and then they go home and talk it up," he said. "So we have a lot of good buzz even before we go into the market in other states."
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