Friday marks International Beer Day, a global celebration of local breweries and bars.
Ten years ago, the craft brewing industry was going through a rough patch. The combination of a hops shortage and the economic downturn meant there were only 1,574 breweries in the United States. Today, there are well over 6,000.
And there’s been a similar trend in Connecticut, which is now home to 60 craft breweries, up from only 16 in 2011. Tony Karlowicz is the co-owner of one of them, Back East Brewery in Bloomfield.
“You know, it's a great scene. People like supporting local,” Karlowicz said. “We got a lot of of amazing breweries here in the state. It's a good time to be a beer drinker, a good time to be supporting local beer.”
The craft beer industry in Connecticut contributes over $718 million to the U.S. economy, according to data collected by the Brewers Association. Back East currently employs nine people, but Karlowicz said their economic impact spans further than their own staff.
“There's a lot of jobs we create directly, but there's also a lot of jobs outside of that, in distribution and sales and marketing,” Karlowicz said. “Certainty all the vendors and contractors and stuff that we have here pretty regularly doing work.”
Bart Watson, chief economist at the Brewers Association, said a thriving local brewery scene has a particular economic effect.
“Part of what small brewers have done is that they've distributed that impact in more places. So rather than having just a few large brewing companies that are driving that impact, you have 6,000-plus small breweries that are making an impact in their communities all across the country,” Watson said.
According to Watson, Connecticut’s craft beer scene is expected to keep growing and will likely hit upwards of 70 breweries this year.