Kentucky's craft beer industry showing significant growth and increased job opportunities

07/14/2017 01:28 PM

GEORGETOWN – The state’s growing microbrewery industry has experienced a 600 percent growth over the last five years, according to officials with the Kentucky Guild of Brewers.

Members of the Interim Joint Committee on Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations met for their monthly meeting at the Country Boy Brewery in Georgetown to get an update of the state’s growing industry, which includes 53 licensed craft brewers that represent 41 Kentucky companies and 19 additional brewery locations. Fourteen of those locations are new breweries currently in planning stages.

Adam Watson, a partner with Against the Grain Brewery in Louisville, says that many of the companies have had and will pursue plans for expansion.

“We are estimating that 2017 volume growth is more than double of the volume growth of 2016,” Watson said. “Employment is up by more than 25 percent.”

Kentucky craft brewers export to more than 40 states and over 20 countries, and project to increase volume production from 102,00 barrels in 2016 to 120,000 barrels in 2017.

“We’re growing Kentucky-based infrastructure, we’re growing jobs and creating significant revenue and broadening Kentucky’s tax base,” Watson said.

Sen. Dan Seum, R-Louisville, who spent over 35 years in the tavern business, reflects back through the years on how many of the local breweries in Louisville were shut down after being bought by the big national brewers, causing the loss of many jobs. But the craft industry has changed that trend.

“Back in 1966, I had all these home grown Louisville beers on my taps back behind my bar, and I watched every one of them disappear,” Seum said. “I watched these people who worked in the neighborhood, their drivers and people who worked in their plants coming in my bar, the tears were flowing because they were losing their jobs. What goes around comes around.”

The Kentucky Guild of Brewers will present requests for legislation to lawmakers later this year for them to consider for upcoming 2018 session.

Those items include addressing inconsistent statutory provisions relating to privileges or prohibitions among producers, simplifying processes, reducing red tape and reducing barriers for new and existing Kentucky craft brewers, and statutory changes to enhance Kentucky craft brewers ability to compete with craft brewers in bordering states and nationally.


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