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Craft beer industry contributing $1.3 billion to Indiana economy

Beers are bottled at Four Fathers Brewing in Valparaiso. Craft beer now brews up a $1.3 billion a year economic impact in Indiana.

The craft brewing industry is now contributing $1.3 billion to Indiana's economy, the 19th largest impact nationwide, according to a recently released study by the Brewers Association.

The trade association found that Indiana now has more than 180 breweries, or about 3.7 per 100,000 residents. The number of craft breweries in the Hoosier state has nearly quadrupled since 2011 as consumers gravitate more toward locally produced beer in styles other than lager or pilsner.

As the craft brewing industry has taken off in the Region and around the state, Indiana has the 15th most breweries in the nation and produces more than 259,000 barrels of craft beer per year, which is 23rd nationwide, according to the Brewers Association.

Northwest Indiana is now home to more than two dozen craft breweries, including the recently opened Cognito Brewery in Merrillville and Plat 35 Brewery in Porter, as well as a smattering of craft distilleries, meaderies and cideries. The Chesterton Brewery also expects to open this summer.

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Neighboring Illinois ranks 13th nationwide with nearly 230 breweries, which produce more than 400,000 barrels of beer per year and have an economic impact of $2.6 billion, about twice as much as in Indiana. 

Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association, said the craft brewing industry continues to grow nationwide, though some brewery closures will be inevitable.

"I think that’s the big question for the next few years, as we will undoubtedly see hundreds if not thousands of new breweries open," he wrote in the study. "How much can those breweries expand the market in their states by opening in a new geography, offering styles or experiences not available in their market, and generally build the category by bringing in new craft lovers rather than simply pulling from the existing set of customers. The states where entrants do the most market building will likely see regionals who are also more healthy and generally continue to have room for growth, whereas I’d expect closings to rise more in states where breweries are simply slicing the pie into smaller pieces."

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.