According to Nielson, the volume of craft beer being purchased at retail increased a remarkable 63 percent in the last year—almost triple the growth recorded in the second place market, Cincinnati. Nationwide, craft beer sales only grew around 10 percent.
There are currently 28 craft breweries in the state of Alabama, up from only 2 (Good People and Back Forty) only six years ago.
“The southern region is untapped,” Good People Sales Director Ben Lewellyn told AL.com. “I think we’ll grow. I don’t think we’re going to grow another 65 percent, but I think you’ll still wee Birmingham in a top 10 list.”
“All this has kind of dovetailed neatly with the Free the Hops movement,” Lewellyn continued. “My little brother, he’s 25 and he’s never known a grocery store not to have a dozen or more of craft beer brands in any store in Alabama. That was not the same when I turned 21.”
While Birmingham’s market growth is indicative of the population’s changing tastes in beer, many of Alabama’s laws have been slow to keep up.
Despite the massive growth seen by Alabama’s craft brewers, the state ranked 50th in per-capita economic impact from the craft beer industry. The Alabama Brewers Guild (ABG) estimates that 3,000 jobs and $284 million from craft beer could be added to the Alabama economy if production reached the national average.
Specifically, the ABG says a study conducted by Jacksonville State University shows a bill allowing breweries to sell beer for on or off-premises consumption—currently not provided for by existing Alabama law—would create 655 jobs, $100,970,039 in increased economic output, and $12,371,281 in increased total tax revenue.
Though that particular bill did not pass during the Regular Session this Spring, ABG says it is working with the State Legislature-appointed Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Study Commission to conduct public hearings across the state to receive input from the general public and industry. Those hearings concluded Tuesday, and the Commission is expected to visit Colorado and North Carolina in September to examine their laws—considered the most responsible and progressive in the nation—and introduce draft legislation in the next several months to be considered during the 2016 Legislative Session.
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— Elizabeth BeShears (@LizEBeesh) January 21, 2015