Pennsylvania craft breweries have been big players in the industry for years, but in the past decade, output has tremendously increased. While the entire craft beer industry is experiencing massive growth on the national level, Pennsylvania has become the largest producer of craft beer in the country.
As of 2014, according to Brewers Association, Pennsylvania is home to 136 craft breweries that produce over four million barrels of beer and have a collective economic impact of $4.48 billion, the second largest in the country. That output means that our state is the biggest producer of craft beer in the United States and that Pennsylvania produces an average of 13.4 gallons of craft beer per every 21+ adult every year.
Compared with statistics from 2011, our state has seen tremendous growth. In 2013, a study by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee found that by the end of 2011, there were over 100 craft breweries producing about four million barrels and a $1.1 billion economic impact in the state. Those breweries also employed over 1,900 full-time and 760 part-time employees. Recognizing how our state’s craft beer industry has grown during that short time, and since 2014, it is increasingly apparent that our state’s brewers continue to innovate.
Yuengling has only been officially recognized as a craft brewery for a few years because of the technical definition, but the brewery has been holding the reins of independent brewing since 1829. Yuengling lead output in Pennsylvania as of 2014, when it produced just shy of three million barrels of beer.
The 20-year-old Victory Brewing Company also tops the charts by producing 125,000 barrels in 2014. With the addition of its brewery in Parkesburg, which can produce 225,000 barrels a year when at full capacity, and its recent alliance with New York-based Southern Tier, Victory is sure to grow its output astronomically over the next several years.
Those huge players in our state’s craft beer industry are accompanied by a long list of mid-range and small breweries. In 2014, Tröegs produced 44,000 barrels and Yards produced 42,000, while small-batch breweries such as Saint Benjamin grew their name by producing about 500 barrels in 2015.
Those small and mid-sized breweries are also planning production expansions. CBS reported that Yards is seeking to triple production to about 130,000 barrels a year, and Philly Beer Scene reports that Saint Benjamin recently acquired a larger system and plans to produce about 1,500 barrels in the coming year.
Craft beer may still be scoffed at by some as a consumer hobby, but the cultural implications and economic impact of this rapidly growing industry are hard to deny. Craft breweries continue to grow their business and expand their distribution, and consumers continue to spend money on an experience of delicious relaxation.
The Brewers of Pennsylvania is a nonprofit trade association that brings together leaders of Pennsylvania-based breweries in order to promote and protect the brewing industry in the state. Established in 2011, the Brewers of Pennsylvania serves the consuming public of Pennsylvania by encouraging brand diversity in the market. We believe in the nobility of brewing and hold dear the great traditions and history of Pennsylvania brewing.
Victory Brewing Company beer and pretzel photo credit: Alexandra Whitney Photography