Ready For A Cold July 4th Beer? Data Show You'll Have No Trouble Finding Idaho Brews

Jul 2, 2014

Just in time for the holiday weekend, the U.S. Census Bureau confirmed Idaho's love of beer.

Credit Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr Creative Commons

New data show a national surge in breweries between 2007-2012, with the number more than doubling from 398 to 869. New jobs were created in the industry despite the Great Recession, and shipments of the cold brews climbed more than 33 percent in the five-year span.

In Idaho, the number of breweries has grown three-fold. In 2007 the census counted five breweries in the state, and in 2012 there were 15. Payroll among Gem State breweries has also seen a boost, up from 40 employees in 2007 to 124 in 2012.

Fred Colby isn't surprised at all by the growth shown in the Census numbers. Colby owns Laughing Dog Brewing in Northern Idaho. He's also part of the Idaho Brewers United, a group that advocates on behalf of the brewery industry in the state.

"[Idaho] is sometimes overlooked for beer, but we make as good of beer as any other state," says Colby. "It's great to see the industry continuing to grow."

Colby says since opening his brewery doors in 2005, he's seen a steady increase in sales. He's also been able to add employees, going from three staff members when he opened to 15 this year.

Important note: the Census data does not include companies that make beer but still have most of their sales in other products, like food. So the proliferation of Idaho brewpubs may not be fully reflected in these numbers. This map from CraftBeer.com shows 36 different craft breweries in the state. It may be a more complete look at Idaho's beer industry. 

Credit http://www.craftbeer.com/breweries/brewery-locator/find-a-us-brewery

The Census also included stats on Idaho winery growth. Between 2007-2012 the annual payroll and number of employees at Idaho wineries has increased.  And according to a report from the Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Idahoans are second in the country when it comes to wine consumption.

Idahoans...drink 8,653,000 gallons combined each year. Only residents in the District of Columbia drink more wine than Idahoans per capita.

That equates to 36 bottles per year, a breakdown of three bottles per month or three glasses per week for the average Idahoan — or if preferred, nine boxed wine pouches per year.

According to the institute’s report, after seeing a crash in the amount of wine consumed in the early 1990s, regions across the country have seen a continual increase in popularity of fermented grapes.

The amount of wine consumed has steadily increased from the late 1970s when Idahoans drank about a quarter that amount.  --Idaho Press-Tribune

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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