Brewing Up Business: Local, State Craft Beer Industry Booming
(Photo courtesy of Clarion River Brewing Company)
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Pennsylvania was home to 354 craft breweries as of September of this year, a huge increase since 2011, when it had just 88.
Craft breweries in the state currently produce more than 3.7 million barrels of craft beer annually, making Pennsylvania the nation’s top producer.
According to Jeremy Borkowski, co-owner of Clarion River Brewing Company (CRBC), the culture of craft brew drinkers is a major pull, as people who enjoy craft brews will seek them out whenever they travel.
“I know when I go out of town I always look for different brew pubs. If we can pull in customers, it’s great for the community, then they see our beautiful Main Street and shop around,” Borkowski told exploreClarion.com.
“Now, with the second brewery, Mechanistic, hopefully we are able to recruit more potential customers into the market! Why just stop at one when you have two great spots to check out?”
An increased focus on the use of local products is another big attraction for some people, Borkowski noted.
“We use local farms like Clarion Farms beef, local butchers like Hirsch’s meats in Kossuth, local wines like Foxburg, local meads from Porchvue. The idea of supporting local is a big draw. We strive to give a taste of Clarion,” Borkowski said.
Supporting other local and regional businesses is a big part of CRBC’s business model, and it’s something that people really seem to appreciate.
“It’s a great plan to be a part of a community.”
The support of the local community has also been very important to CRBC. In turn, CRBC has given back to the community through programs like their “Dine and Donate” program and the annual Edward J. Flannigan Memorial Scholarship.
According to Capri Turk, manager of Franklin’s TrAils to Ales, the brewery atmosphere is a big draw for many.
“(TrAils to Ales) is not an average bar. It’s something fun and a little classy, but it’s still a family-friendly place where you can also have a really good craft beverage,” Turk said.
One thing that sets our region apart is while some areas are saturated with craft breweries, western Pennsylvania’s locations are a little more spaced out. Still, the region offers the chance to visit a few places in one day for those who would like to do so, according to Turk.
“We’ve created a nice little niche here. Our support from our local guests in phenomenal, and not just for the beers, for all of our events and everything.
“And, it’s not just the people from Franklin and the surrounding towns, but also the people from cities who come in to visit. We have regulars from Pittsburgh and Erie, which I think says we must be doing something right to pull that crowd in,” Turk explained.
Turk went on to note that interest in craft breweries is evident even online, where “breweries near me” has been ranked as one of the top most popular searches on several major search engines, including Google.
“It’s something people really want to check out.”
Franklin has the singular distinction in the region of housing a craft brewery, a local winery, and a craft distillery all within one part of the downtown area.
“I think it makes Franklin a huge destination,” Turk added.
While the draw of the culture, the food, and the local focus all have their place, a lot of the draw also comes down to the beers.
Pennsylvania’s craft brewers are increasingly being recognized for creating quality beers that span styles including pilsners, India Pale Ales, lagers, stouts, hefeweizen, porters, bocks, and saisons.
According to the Department of Community and Economic Development, craft breweries currently inject more than $5.78 billion into the state’s economy, while supplying more than 10,000 jobs which generate $2.2 billion in wages and benefits annually.
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