Craft brewers in five states, including Pennsylvania, account for nearly 40 percent of the industry’s contribution to the national economy.
Trailing only California, Pennsylvania craft brewers have an economic impact of $4.5 billion, according to the Brewers Association, the trade association representing small and independent American craft brewers.
The commonwealth tops the list for barrels of craft beer produced per year with 4.1 million.
Central Pennsylvania plays a big role in Pennsylvania’s craft beer success, and brewery licenses continue to rise in the midstate, especially in Lancaster County.
Why? It starts with agriculture.
“Central Pennsylvania has some of the more rich farming area as it relates to fruits, veggies and raw ingredients used in beer,” said Dan LaBert, executive director of the Brewers of Pennsylvania.
Demand for those products is rising, especially as beer styles evolve.
The region’s extensive highway infrastructure provides access to supplies and distribution of finished products. Taxes are relatively low compared with other major metropolitan areas, and it’s an attractive place to live, he added.
And there is a robust beer tradition here.
“Clearly the longtime Pennsylvania German heritage is very front and center in Lancaster County,” said Joel Cliff, a spokesman for Discover Lancaster, formerly the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau, which promotes the county as a tourist destination. “It’s the Little Munich of America.”
Beer is an extension of a maker mentality and tradition that has long existed in Lancaster County, he said. “There is all types of craft. This fits right in.”