Beer becoming bigger part of state economy

By LAUREN SHUN/Montana State News

There is nothing better than a locally brewed beer. In Montana, that is not too hard to find.

According to the nation’s Brewers Association, Montana only has 39 breweries statewide, ranking them 22nd in the nation, but they are third in the nation in terms of breweries per capita. Montana has an astounding 5.3 breweries per 100,000 adults. Oregon and Washington with are the only states in the nation ahead of Montana.

The beer brewing industry in Montana is booming. According to the Montana Brewers Association, there are 53 licensed brewers in the state, which manufacture and package over 140,000 barrels (4,340,000 gallons) of fine handcrafted beer in bottles, cans, and kegs.

Tony Herbert, executive director of the Montana Brewers Associations said, “Montana craft beer is very popular … People want more of it and we don’t really see any kind of point where this will slow down. Sure, one day it may. But (there) seems to still be potential for continuing growth for the craft beer market in the nation and in Montana.”

This availability of local, handcrafted brews contributes to more than just a great beer. The brewing industry in Montana has helped boost the economy throughout the state as well.

The Montana brewing industry has more than doubled its workforce in the past four years and the number of people working for breweries rose from 231 to more than 480 in 2013, according to a study by the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

According to the Montana Brewers Association, the beer industry uses over 7 million pounds of malted grain, approximately half of which is grown in Montana, and the industry employs more than 500 employees and has an economic impact of over $60 million annually.

The rapid growth of the brewing industry throughout Montana does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon and there seems to be a simple explanation for this.

– Edited by Eric Joondeph

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