Florida’s craft beer industry among top 5, adding billions of dollars to U.S. economy in 2020

Floridians love their beer, and they love to brew beer too. It’s clear based on the latest figures crunched by the Brewer’s Association that focused on every state’s economic impact.

Craft breweries faced a challenging year in 2020, but, as a whole, the craft beer industry contributed $62.1 billion to the U.S. economy in 2020. It also provided more than 400,000 jobs during a time when the pandemic forced businesses to temporarily close their doors.

Among all states, Florida ranked fifth as one of the top contributors to the U.S. economy – based on craft beer alone. The Sunshine State provided $3.1 billion. 

  1. California: $7.6 billion
  2. Pennsylvania: $5 billion
  3. Texas: $4.2 billion
  4. New York: $3.3. billion
  5. Florida: $3.1 billion

In addition, the total number of full-time employees in Florida’s industry was about 21,241 with a labor income of $952,979,027. The average wage was $41,188 in 2020. You can view a full breakdown by state here

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The BA said the numbers were tallied based on the beer produced by craft breweries as well as non-beer products, like food and merchandise sold in brewpubs and taprooms. The economists looked at craft breweries, craft beer wholesalers and retailers that sell craft beer.

"With a strong presence across the 50 states and the District of Columbia, even in a challenging year craft breweries are a powerful economic force at the local, state, and national level," Bart Watson, the BA’s chief economist, said in a statement. "As consumers continue to demand a wide range of high quality, full-flavored beers, small and independent craft brewers are meeting this growing demand with innovative offerings, creating high levels of economic value in the process."

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Over the summer, Watson told FOX 13 that Florida’s average number of brewery closings was much lower than the national trend. For every five Florida brewery openings in 2020, one brewery closed. Nationally, for every two brewery openings, one brewery closed.

Watson said there are several factors that influenced each state’s craft brewery industry. For Florida, lifting lockdowns, allowing outdoor and indoor seating earlier than other states, and its weather conditions are just a few contributing factors that helped the industry in the Sunshine State.

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Nationally, about 4% of the breweries in the country closed in 2020 -- which can be a pint half-full or half-empty perspective, considering how suddenly businesses had to shut down and adjust.

Across the country, craft breweries saw a 9% decline in craft beer volume sales, as well as production, which is the first drop the Brewer’s Association has seen since it began tracking statistics in the 1980s. 

"The reason for the decline is largely the decline in draft sales," Watson said. "With the decline in draft sales, brewers were selling less and thus producing less."

The association identified the following Florida breweries that closed last year: 

  • Mad Robot Brewing Company in Boca Raton
  • Something’s Brewing in Winter Park
  • Atlantic Beach Brewing Company in Atlantic Beach
  • Big Blue Brewing in Cape Coral
  • Lost Shirt Brewing Company in Melbourne
  • Quarters Brewing Company in Melbourne
  • Concrete Beach Brewery in Miami
  • Old Soul Brewing in Fort Myer

The industry won't likely know the full impact of the pandemic until later this year. Watson said the organization is hopeful that craft brewery production will grow this year.

"2021 is going to be a year where, I think, we see craft make up some but not all of the volume that was lost in 2020," he predicted back in May. "Then in 2022, returning to more of that previous trends. And then 2023 settling back into growth rates that we were seeing before."

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The industry is not out of the woods yet. Sales could recover, but it all depends on if they recover quick enough this year. Watson said, in general, the southeast region of the U.S. had more "openness" to keeping businesses open and consumers who were more willing to be out and about.

"That’s one we’ll watch this year and see," Watson said. "Does Florida’s number come back to more of that national average? Or does it stay strong suggesting that breweries indeed did make it through -- maybe not fully healthy -- but better than other parts of the country?"

You can learn more about each state’s craft beer sales and production statistics from 2020 on the Brewer’s Association’s website