Whether you prefer the bitter citrusy taste of a Ballast Point Sculpin IPA or favor Belching Beaver’s Peanut Butter Milk Stout, keep sipping — you’re boosting the economy!
San Diego’s burgeoning craft beer industry generated a $600 million economic impact in 2014 — doubling the $300 million it generated three years prior in 2011.
Let’s put that into context. The 2015 Super Bowl generated $500 million for Arizona’s economy. That’s $100 million short of the annual impact a carbonated beverage had on our beach city. Who needs Tom Brady when you’ve got Karl Strauss?
All this comes from Senior Policy Analyst Vince Vasquez and his team at the National University System Institute for Policy Research. NUSIPR gathered public business records and partnered with the San Diego Brewers Guild to survey breweries and brewpubs.
“We noticed there wasn’t a lot of economic analysis on craft beer,” Vasquez said. “It seemed like something San Diego did well but we didn’t have the quantifiable data to support it.”
Now we do.
In 2014 alone, they found that breweries and brewpubs directly created 3,752 jobs while overall creating or sustaining 6,203 jobs. And get this — the number of breweries more than doubled, growing from just 37 breweries in 2011 to 97 by the end of 2014.
There are more than 40 new breweries in the pipeline and it’s just a paper chase away before one can call itself San Diego’s 100th brewery. The bar alternatives are opening at the rate of one per month, Vasquez said.
For some breweries, restaurant components (which, albeit, oftentimes include beer battered entrees) are where the money and jobs really are.
“For a lot of the larger breweries like Ballast Point, the biggest gains have been with the restaurant components,” Vasquez said. “Those are the jobs sustained by the brewing industry.”
And these aren’t minimum wage jobs either.
“On average, those in the brewery industry are earning a salary of $39,000 in San Diego County,” he said. “And only 20 percent of those jobs required bachelor’s degrees. These are good paying, entry-level jobs that can lead to a promising career.”
Roughly two-thirds of industry jobs are either in restaurants, offices or supportive departments such as human relations or marketing. The other third is actually related to brewing itself, Vasquez said.
Younger consumers, who came of drinking age during the craft beer boom, are the primary supporters of breweries. Older drinkers, who have long consumed macros beers like Budweiser, are more reluctant to jump on the craft beer bandwagon. But they are beginning to acquire a taste for it, Vasquez said.
“Craft beer resonates more with younger consumers,” he said. “As millennials work their way up through their careers and become a larger share of the workforce, that’s more earnings potential and more money to be spent on craft beer. There are folks over 40 or 50 who like it or are transitioning, but it is principally consumed by the younger generation.”
The tourism potential is also massive. We may not be attracting people in droves for beer tastings as say, Napa does for wine tastings, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future. And if it does, be sure that San Diego’s killer combination of beach and beer will be one of the first cities to reap the benefits.
“You travel to enjoy great wine in Napa, but you look at beer and it’s not something that has really been crystallized in the public awareness. There will be greater acceptance over time and San Diego will be a main beneficiary.”