by Ray Bendici
Jul 9, 2013
07:33 AMUnsteady Habits
Connecticut Ranks No. 50 in Per Capita Beer Consumption
In a recent survey from the Beer Institute—a national organization created to represent the beer industry before Congress, state legislatures and public forums across the country—Connecticut ranked 50th in the nation in terms of per capita consumption by state. (Editor's update: The list includes the District of Columbia; Utah is below Connecticut.) According to the data, residents of Connecticut consume only 22.1 gallons of beer per year; North Dakota is No. 1 at 45.8 gallons.
Looking around at our neighboring states, it may be a regional thing: New York is No. 48 on the list (22.4 gallons), New Jersey is No. 49 (22.4 gallons), Massachusetts is No. 40 (26.2 gallons) and Rhode Island is No. 39 (26.3 gallons).
While compared to other places, Connecticut's consumption may not be so impressive, but it's still enough to ensure that beer is a viable industry here. According to an economic impact report from the institute, Connecticut has 30 breweries, 27 distributors and some 6,700 retail outlets that directly provide 12,430 jobs that pay more than $381 million annually. The beer industry contributes $769 million to the state economy each year.
Widening the impact to include related industries such as agriculture, business services, manufacturing and entertainment, the total economic of beer impact froths up (like the head on a freshly-poured cold mug) to 21,130 jobs and a contribution of $2.2 billion. The beer industry also generates $375 million in federal, state and local taxes. Efforts like the recently established CT Beer Trail and Connecticut Brewers Guild are helping to foster the business of beer here.
So why does Connecticut lag(er) behind the rest of the nation when it comes to drinking beer? "I think beer is still misunderstood by some—it's no longer just that inexpensive mass-produced beverage of choice for college students," says Bryon Turner, founder of CTBeerTrail.net. "Culturally beer has shifted and rivals wine in areas of quality, diversity, and even sophistication. But some folks haven't caught on yet. Connecticut seems to be more wine-focused, this may be in part due to the marketing successes and state support the wine industry has enjoyed for so long. Connecticut's beer community is only just getting started when it comes to a more unified marketing effort but we're already making some serious traction and raising awareness."
To that extent, Connecticut Magazine recently reported on the growth of beer gardens across the state and the local microbrewery boom. "Connecticut's brewers are a great bunch of people who are very passionate about their art," says Turner. "I would encourage folks to visit their local breweries and brew pubs and get to know the people behind the beer, they won't be sorry. By choosing to drink their beer your supporting your neighbors who in turn employ other neighbors and provide our home state with revenue, all while producing a variety of outstanding beers. Purchasing local beer also means a shorter distribution chain, which in many cases means less impact on the environment. Buying local is the way to go for so many reasons."
Still, Turner doesn't discourage the consumption of national mass-brewed beer, but suggests "if you're looking for more character and complexity, I would encourage you to try a local craft brewer's beer. There's a lot more out there than American Light Lagers—visiting a local beer festival is an excellent opportunity to sample an array of styles and find something that you like."
And if you find something you like, don't be afraid to buy a lot of it. Just drink responsibly, of course.