by Brett Broesder
Connecticut’s craft brewery industry is growing, and if lawmakers pass legislation that paves the way for farm brewers to grow statewide, the Nutmeg State will be in a better position to win tomorrow’s good-paying craft beer jobs.
Our state is currently home to more than 50 craft breweries; Connecticut brewers alone are producing more than 3 million gallons annually. The economic impact of the craft beer industry on our state is nearly $569 million every year.
Although craft breweries seem to be popping up everywhere, there’s still a lot of room for growth. In fact, nationwide over 1,000 cities with populations of more than 10,000 people still do not have a craft brewery, confirming that there is still room for growth in the marketplace.
Connecticut lags behind its neighbors. For example, in Massachusetts, there are currently more than 80 craft breweries with an annual economic impact of more than $1.4 billion. On the other hand, the Empire State is home to over 200 craft breweries with an annual economic impact of $3 billion.
The Nutmeg State’s craft beer industry is still growing. There are more than 40 new craft breweries in the planning stages across the state. Not only are craft breweries growing across the state, they’re booming nationwide. In fact, three decades ago, there were less than 125 breweries nationwide. Today, there are more than 5,300, accounting for more than 424,000 jobs.
Across the country, craft brewers created almost 7,000 jobs in 2016, bringing the total amount of industry jobs to nearly 129,000. Craft brewers also saw a six percent year-over-year rise in volume, producing over 24.6 million gallons of beer. Also, the rate at which craft breweries are opening is much faster than that which they’re closing.
One reason for our neighboring states having a leg up on craft brewery growth is their incentivizing farm brewing. In 2012, the New York State Legislature passed – and the governor signed into law – a bill creating a farm brewery license.
Since the license became available in 2013, more than 130 farm brewers have been permitted, creating jobs and growing the state’s economy. In fact, since 2013, craft beer production in New York State has increased by more than 50 percent.
Now, Connecticut has an opportunity to start the process of catching up if the General Assembly passes, and the governor signs, a bill that would create a farm brewers permit. This legislation – An Act Establishing a Manufacturer Permit for Farm Brewers (HB 5928) – allows for the manufacture, storage, bottling, and wholesale distribution and sale of beer manufactured at any place or premises located on a farm.
The permit also allows permitees to sell their craft beer at a farmers market, and requires permittees to use a certain amount of hops, barley, and other fermentable grown or malted in the state. After fulfilling these requirements, and purchasing a $300 permit, farm breweries can then advertise their products as “Connecticut Craft Beers.”
With this bill, state lawmakers have a real opportunity to help strengthen both the craft brewery industry and agriculture. And when a farmer and a brewery partner up, they create jobs, keep farmers farming, and help small businesses grow and thrive.
Connecticut’s House of Representatives recently passed the farm brewers bill unanimously. It’s now up to the State Senate to pass it, and for the governor to sign it into law.
Brett Broesder is Co-Founder and Vice President of the Campaign for Tomorrow’s Jobs, which focuses on growing Connecticut’s economy for present and future generations in three key policy areas: workforce preparedness, business growth & innovation and fiscal sustainability.