Florida loves a cold brew — a lot, according to a new study that says beer pumps $14 billion into the state's economy every year.
The beer industry accounts for more than $5 billion in wages and benefits for more than 125,000 jobs in the state, according to the study commissioned by the Beer Institute and National Beer Wholesalers Association, an industry group of distributors who transport bottles, cans and kegs from breweries to stores and bars. And the industry brought in $3 billion in tax revenues to state coffers last year.
"Beer is more than our nation's favorite adult drink — it is a powerhouse in job creation, commercial activity and tax revenue," Jim McGreevy, Beer Institute president and CEO, said in a statement.
Much of that impact can be attributed to big names like Budweiser and MillerCoors, which account for most of the beer consumed in the U.S., even as craft breweries continue to boom.
According to the Beer Institute study, 70 percent of brewing jobs in the U.S. are with large and medium-sized breweries, and the distributors have increased their employment by 20 percent in the last decade.
It's not just the big guys that are growing. Craft breweries nationwide are on track to almost double their production from just three years ago, according to a separate study released Monday by their national group, the Brewers Association.
Right now, craft beer represents just a fraction of the total industry in Florida. With growth will come more jobs and greater impact on the state's economy as small breweries hire more employees to keep up with demand, said Josh Aubuchon, executive director of the Florida Brewers Guild.
"The (job-creating) benefit of the small craft brewer is that because the equipment is much less automated, you can't run the whole brewhouse with just one person like you can the big automated systems," Aubuchon said. "You need more boots on the ground."
He and others in the craft beer industry are hoping to see their market share continue to grow, especially after the legislative session this spring that included the passage of their marquee law, allowing breweries to sell 64-ounce growlers and open tasting rooms.