The real economic impact of the Northwest’s brewing industry

Infographic showing economic impact in Washington.
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On May 2nd members of the beer and brewing industry will sit down in front of the Oregon Alcohol Tax Task Force and discuss the value and impact of the state’s beer and brewing industry. This is related to some proposed alcohol tax increases in the state that many fear would negatively impact the industry. It’s been a contentious proposal and not without some controversy (reported here). This news caused me to think about the impact that the brewing industry has on the Northwest’s economy.

Some of the data mentioned below is from 2022 and some is from 2023. It is illustrative if not current and exact. Let’s discuss. (Info graphs provided by the Brewers Association.)

The Brewers Association (BA), the national trade organization that works to promote and protect small and independent American brewers, reports that the total economic impact of Washington and Oregon breweries combined to equal about $3.5 billion.

Infographs showing economic impact of craft beer in the Northwest.
Note that the numbers shown in the infographics are based on 2022 data.

Breaking down the numbers provided in the info graphs, here are some factoids for your consideration:


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  • In Oregon, the economic impact amounts to about $1.8 billion.
  • In Washington, about $1.7 billion.
  • Oregon is home to 318 breweries.
  • Washington is home to 459 breweries.

Volume

While Washington is home to more breweries, Oregon is home to more “large” breweries. Oregon produces a lot more beer than Washington. Greater than 50 percent more beer: 895k barrels per year versus 560k barrels per year.

Three Oregon craft breweries rank in the top 50 in terms of production volume: Deschutes Brewery is 12th, Great Frontier Holdings (Ninkasi) is 35th, and Rogue Ales Brewery is 44th. The only Washington brewery to rank in the top 50 in terms of production volume is Georgetown Brewing at 16th. (See the BA’s top 50 here.)


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Gross Domestic Product

Here’s something interesting to consider. Although the difference in economic impact from state to state may not seem that apparent, with each state contributing about $1.75 billion to their state’s economy, consider the fact that Washington’s GDP is more than twice that of Oregon’s.

  • In 2023 Washington’s GDP was measured at about $800 billion (11th in the nation).
  • In 2023 Oregon’s GDP was about $300 billion (24th in the nation).

In that regard, Oregon breweries have a greater impact on the state’s economy. (GDP numbers based on 2023 data published on Wikipedia.)

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Population

The economic impact per capita for Oregon is almost double that of Washington. Of course, that relates to the number of people in each state: Washington’s population is about 7.6 million while Oregon’s is about 4.2 million.

However you break it down, here in the Northwest our breweries are an important part of the local economies, not to mention the local culture and overall quality of life.

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