Roll out the barrels: Beer is making a huge impact on the Ohio economy.

Two separate studies released this week in advance of the Memorial Day weekend — one of the nation's biggest beer drinking holidays — highlight the significant economic impact of the beer industry in the Buckeye State.

The Beer Institute and National Beer Wholesalers Association's "Beer Serves America" biennial report estimated that the industry — everything from breweries to beer distributors to suppliers — generated $12.8 billion for Ohio and $328 billion for the national economy last year.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Craft Brewers Association estimated in a new report that Ohio craft breweries had a $967 million economic impact in the state, up 39 percent from three years earlier.

"Holy cow," said Adam Longacre, co-founder of the upcoming Unhitched Brewing Co. in Louisville in Stark County.

The brewpub, which hopes to open in August or September, is setting up shop in the former Louisville Bowl Restaurant & Bar downtown. Longacre said he's thrilled because many craft breweries are opening outside large cities and are serving as tourist attractions and becoming anchors for the redevelopment and rebirth of smaller communities.

"To me, that’s the bigger story," he said. "We're seeing the renaissance of small-town America."

Michael Chisnell, co-founder of Ignite Brewing Co. in Barberton, agreed. He said it's exciting to see the financial numbers, which reflect his brewery's experience and the seemingly insatiable appetite that people have for locally produced beer.

"We’ve been absolutely shocked to see the number of people who are willing to travel 30 to 45 minutes to regularly visit our brewery," he said.

In the Beer Serves America report, the Buckeye State ranked eighth in the nation in terms of overall economic impact, behind California ($43.4 billion), Texas ($25.4 billion), New York ($24.2 billion), Florida ($18.8 billion), Illinois ($13.9 billion), Colorado ($13.6 billion) and Oregon ($13.6 billion). The amount generated in Ohio was about the same as it was two years earlier.

The report also noted that there are more than 7,000 breweries and 3,000 distributors nationwide today, employing more than 200,000, including 7,800 workers in Ohio. The Beer Serves America study estimated that beer generated $1.77 billion in business and personal taxes, and an additional $388 million in consumption taxes in Ohio. Nationwide, the industry pays $58.6 billion in taxes, the study says.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Craft Brewers report said the craft beer industry supports 8,341 jobs in the state. The industry also pays $124 million in state and local taxes and another $53 million in federal taxes a year.

“The study results are proof that craft breweries are a powerful catalyst helping communities and partner industries flourish," Ohio Craft Brewers Association Executive Director Mary MacDonald said in a prepared statement. "The full-time labor force in the craft brewing industry has more than doubled over the past three years.

"As craft breweries grow and mature, we’ve seen a marked increase in hiring for manufacturing jobs in the brewhouse, sales positions, marketing and finance, business administration and other professional jobs," she added. "Small businesses fuel the economy, and craft breweries continue to generate substantial impact to the state of Ohio.”

The Buckeye State has seen a rapid rise in craft breweries. At the beginning of 2012, there were fewer than 50 in the state. Today, there are more than 300 producing an estimated 1.4 million barrels a year.

The association noted that about 50 craft breweries opened last year and another 65 are in planning. The group said that a survey of members has indicated that more than 100 Ohio breweries plan to grow production within the next two years and more than 80 are planning to expand their facilities.

The survey also showed Ohio breweries are giving back to their communities, with respondents reporting charitable donations of $1.15 million and an additional 15,000 hours of volunteer service by brewery owners and workers.

 

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.