Beer industry says it adds $9B to NC economy each year

May 24, 2019

North Carolina’s beer industry is booming and bringing some big bucks into the state’s economy.

Breweries and taprooms are popping up like mushrooms – more than 300 statewide – and according to a recent report by the National Beer Wholesalers Association and the Beer Institute, those small businesses brewed $1.3 billion in beer last year. When distributors and retail are included, it’s a $3.4 billion industry.

“We opened in April 2016, and we started with four tanks, and now we have everything you see around us,” Whit Baker, brewmaster and co-owner of Bond Brothers Beer Co. in Cary, said as he stood amid the operation’s large brewing operation.

The industry report pegs the beer industry’s impact on North Carolina, from growing the ingredients to serving the suds, at $9.2 billion, including $2.7 billion in wages and benefits paid to the 63,900 people whose jobs are linked in some way to beer production, sales or consumption.

Beer sales also generate $836.6 million in revenue for the state and local governments through excise and sales taxes, according to the report.

Bond Brothers’ taproom is has contributed to the brewery’s growth, Baker said.

Taprooms are more profitable for brewers than simply bottling beer and selling it elsewhere, and Baker said it also creates a communal space that bars or restaurants can’t provide.

“A lot of beer drinkers who have kids and dogs ... can come here and use that space and drink beer with their kids and dogs because there aren’t a lot of spaces where everything and everybody is welcome other than a taproom,” he said.

The taproom is one of the reasons Jack Lahaye frequents Bond Brothers.

“They do a great job. They hit it out of the park here,” Lahaye said. “It’s just a great community center. It’s a hub for downtown Cary as downtown Cary’s coming back to life.”

His friend, Massih Abawi, agrees.

“They make great beer, obviously, but it’s the camaraderie, it’s the environment,” Abawi said.

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