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Pennsylvania is tops in craft beer production, brewers group says

Joe Napsha
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Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania’s 354 breweries produced more than 3.7 million barrels of craft beer in 2018, more than in any other state in the nation, according to the Colorado-based Brewers Association.
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Tribune-Review
Joanne Rock (left) and Danielle Brickner chug beers as their teammates prepare them for the next leg of the tricycle relay at the Trike and Chug event at Olde Spitefire Grille on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, hosted by Rotary Westmoreland as part of Greensburg Craft Beer Week.
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Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania’s 354 breweries produced more than 3.7 million barrels of craft beer in 2018, more than in any other state in the nation, according to the Colorado-based Brewers Association.

Pennsylvania is ranked No. 1 in the country in one craft beer category — production.

The state’s 354 breweries produced more than 3.7 million barrels of craft beer last year, more than in any other state in the nation, according to statistics compiled by the Colorado-based Brewers Association, a national trade group. The number of craft beer breweries puts Pennsylvania sixth in the nation.

The beer production ranking for 2018 did not surprise Shawn Gentry, owner of Helltown Brewing in Mt. Pleasant and Murrysville, because of the growth he has seen in the industry in the past few years.

“We have definitely seen (growth) around Pittsburgh,” Gentry said.

The state’s craft brewers have been able to do what the beloved Penguins and Steelers have not — threepeat. The state also produced the most craft beer in 2016 and 2017, said Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association.

The craft beer industry in the state packed an economic wallop of $5.8 billion in 2016, the most recent year for which the economic statistics were available, the association reported. That ranks Pennsylvania No. 2 in terms of economic impact, second only to the $7.3 billion generated by the California craft beer industry. California has a population of 49.5 million people, compared to 12.8 million people in the Keystone State.

Pottsville-based D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. brewery could be one reason Pennsylvania does so well in craft brewing. Yuengling was ranked No. 1 in the Brewers Association’s list of 50 top-producing craft breweries, based on beer sales volume. The association did not reveal how much beer Yuengling made last year. Yuengling is sixth in the nation in overall beer production, with Anheuser-Busch Inc. ranked No. 1.

The state’s beer production is equal to 11.7 gallons of craft beer for every Pennsylvanian of legal drinking age. That means the Keystone State drinkers — in theory — have the fourth-highest amount of craft beer in the nation at their disposal.

Less impressive is the number of breweries for every 100,000 adults of drinking age. Pennsylvania has 3.6 breweries per 100,000 legal drinkers, which ranks 21st in the nation.

The Breweries in Pennsylvania website says various aspects of the craft beer industry were up and down last year.

The craft beer industry is expected to continue to grow in 2019, although the growth rates are slower than in previous years, the Brewers Association’s Watson said.

“The demand for full-flavored, more variety and locally-produced by small and independent producers,” remains strong, Watson said.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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