Maine breweries’ economic impact on par with ski industry

A map showing the economic impact per capita of the brewing industry in each state. Maine ranked 4th overall.

A map showing the economic impact per capita of the brewing industry in each state. Maine ranked 4th overall.

Maine’s brewing industry had a total economic impact of $327.7 million in 2012, according to new data from the Brewers Association.

That figure includes direct, indirect and induced impacts. (If you’re interested in the methodology, here’s how Bart Watson, the Brewers Association’s staff economist, came up with the numbers.)

That’s certainly a hefty sum, and comparable to what the ski industry claims it contributes to the Maine economy each year.

Nationally, that number puts us in the middle of the pack. Our state’s relatively small size and population means it can’t compete on that total economic impact figure with brewing industries in states like California ($4.7 billion), Texas ($2.3 billion) and New York ($2.2 billion).

But our industry is large relative to our population. When it comes to economic impact per capita, meaning the amount of impact per person, Maine shoots to the top of the rankings.

At $324.36 per person, Maine ranks 4th in the country, behind Oregon, Colorado and Vermont.

This is the first year the Brewers Association has compiled these economic impact data, so no historical figures are available to show changes over time.

When looking at the number of craft breweries per capita, Maine ranks 6th in the country based on 2012 numbers.

But that stat is already dated. The Maine industry continues to grow with new breweries coming on line constantly. Bissell Brothers Brewing in Portland, Some Brewing Co. in York, Banded Horn Brewing in Biddeford, and Strong Brewing in Sedgwick are just a few of the new breweries to begin selling their beer to the public in the last few months.

To handle the growth, the Maine Brewers Guild also recently hired its first full-time executive director. Sean Sullivan has been traveling around the state the last few months in order to eventually visit all of Maine’s more than 40 breweries.

I expect to see more breweries open in Maine, but have to wonder if we’re getting close to the saturation point. So far, we haven’t seen much contraction. Portland’s Bull Jagger is the only brewery I can remember closing in the recent past, and as far as I know that wasn’t because of economic issues.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I love craft beer and welcome more variety in the marketplace. Brewers, bring it on!


Whit Richardson

About Whit Richardson

Whit Richardson is Business Editor at the Bangor Daily News. He blogs about Maine business, entrepreneurs and the economy.