Washingtons Suds Makers Are Rolling Out the Barrels at an Explosive Pace

The states craft-beer sector is expanding at a rate of 33 new breweries a year

By Bill Conroy April 17, 2019

We meet oktoberfest. Hand of bartender pouring a large lager beer in tap. Pouring beer for client. Side view of young bartender pouring beer while standing at the bar counter

Washington ranks second in the nation in the number of craft breweries, which collectively produced some 1.2 million kegs of beer, support 6,300 jobs statewide and have a statewide economic impact of $1.4 billion.

Those are the findings of a just-release study sponsored by the Washington Beer Commission, which is based on 2017 beer-sales figures. The study also notes that Washington accounts for 75 percent of all hop production in the U.S. and hoppy beers, of course, are a Washington trademark.

Beer production in Washington has nearly doubled in recent years, growing from 283,400 barrels in 2005 to 582,400 barrels in 2017.

Beer production volumes declined slightly from a recent peak of 632,300 [barrels] in 2016, due to corporate acquisition of Washington beer and production relocation out of state, the study states, but growth in new craft brewers demonstrates industry strength and consumer demand.

That growth is reflected nationally as well, with craft brewing surging across the country, even as overall beer sales by volume declined 1.2%, to 196 million barrels, year over year in 2017. Over the same period, according to the Washington Beer Commission, sales of craft beer jumping 5% to reach 12.7% of total U.S. beer sales.

Other interesting suds facts: There were 391 active brewery licenses statewide as of 2018; an average of 33 new breweries were added per year between 2010-2018; and 130 Washington cities have at least one brewery. Only California topped Washington in the number of craft breweries, with 764.

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