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Beer generating billions of dollars in Washington

New estimates put the economic impact, from "grains to the glass," at about $4.3 billion for Washington state. (AP Photo)

Beer is big business in Washington. New estimates put the economic impact, from “grains to the glass,” at about $4.3 billion.

The numbers come from the National Beer Wholesalers Association and the Beer Institute.

The business of growing grains and hops, brewing, bottling, distribution and importing accounts for more than 42,000 jobs in Washington. A key ingredient in beer is hops and Washington is the top producer of hops in the nation.

“It’s an important industry for all the brewers and beer importers that need those hops,” said Chris Thorne, a spokesman and vice president with the Beer Institute. “Washington state plays an integral part in agriculture for the entire brewing industry.”

Washington is also home to almost 300 brewers and beer distributors.

“There’s an enormous reach in brewing beer and importing in the United States and it’s a terrific story because we need jobs and these are good jobs,” said Thorne. He said the beer industry suffered during the recession and 2012 was an improvement, but not a comeback year for beer.

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