Brewers in Northern Colorado might consider their work to be a craft – even an art form. Making beer has also become a cornerstone of the local economy as well as a cultural attraction.
Varying studies tell a story of a bustling industry that’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the Larimer County economy alone, and billions across the state. For instance, a December 2011 report from Colorado State University economist Martin Shields shows that brewing supported 938 direct jobs and 2,488 total jobs in Larimer County. With the addition of multiple breweries in Fort Collins, Loveland, and Berthoud over the past four years, and the expansion of existing breweries, that number has almost certainly grown. Statewide, according to the Beer Institute, there are 5,000 direct brewing jobs and 22,720 total jobs related to the industry – a category that includes distribution and retail.
In financial terms, Larimer County breweries were spending $83.2 million on direct payroll, while the statewide figure was $548.3 million. Total economic output in Larimer County, which includes spin-off impacts, was $309.8 million. Statewide the output was $6.99 billion.
Brewers are also influencing the tourism industry. The Coors brewery in Golden attracts an estimated 250,000 visitors every year, and the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Fort Collins brings in another 100,000 annually. Craft brewers are also tourism staples. Estimates for visitors at New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins run as high as 150,000 per year.