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NY state beer industry could see substantial growth


Beer is big business in New York state. The industry, which already has a major impact on the state's economy, expects to grow even further.

New York State Brewers Association President David Katleski says the number of brewers in the state could double in the near future.  "I wouldn't be surprised if in five years, we have 300 breweries in New York State," Said Katleski.

Right now there are 124 businesses licensed to brew beer in the state. And Katleski believes the state could support more than twice that many, if history is any indication.

"Back in the late 1800s, there were 350 breweries in New York state with a population of five million," said Katelski. "I think 20 million people in New York state now should be able to support 300 breweries throughout the state."

If he's right, the economic impact of that would be huge. Right now according to the Beer Institute, the making, distributing and selling of beer is the reason for almost 60,000 jobs in the state. The brewing industry is indirectly responsible for 40,000 more jobs, ranging from agriculture to transportation to retail. All in all, the economic impact of brewing on the state economy is $5.3 billion.

That's one reason the state continues passing legislation to make it easier for brewers to do business. That includes laws that open up markets for small brewers, offer tax breaks to brewers, and make it easier for brewers to move into the realm of tourism. Tourism is a real goal especially if more breweries come on line, and could create even more of an economic impact on New York state.  

"Right now beer trails are hard to exist because breweries are so spread out. With an increased number of breweries it's going to allow for beer trails to exist, similar to wine trails,"said Katleski.

He also points out that  the beer won't dilute  the wineries business.

"We've always worked in tandem with the winery folks. I think that both beer and wine have their own segmented market, and although we crossover at times, for the most part, a beer drinker is a beer drinker and a wine drinker is a wine drinker."

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.