Beer Study Reveals SF's Relationship With the Delicious Alcoholic Beverage

Categories: Business

California legislators are considering pushing last call back by two hours, to 4 a.m. So what better time for the beer industry to release a study announcing its economic impact on the state?

Fourteen states allow residents to buy alcohol past 2 a.m. But despite the Golden State's competitive disadvantage here, its drinkers are keeping a respectable pace.

California, which accounts for 12 percent of America's population, comprises 14 percent of the country's beer-related economic activity, at $34 billion, according to National Beer Wholesalers Association and the Beer Institute. That includes $1.27 billion in San Francisco.

The study sought to measure both direct economic impact -- as in breweries and wholesalers -- as well as the indirect impact -- as in transportation and agriculture. The beer industry, it calculates, provides more than 4,000 jobs to San Francisco, mostly in retail, and based on the authors' formula, it's indirectly responsible for some 4,300 more, for a total of $384 million in wages. (To put this in context against the city's dominant economic forces, in 2010 the tourism industry claimed to support 67,000 jobs and the controller's officer credited the nightlife industry with 48,000 jobs).

These somewhat scientific measurements from industry groups should always be viewed through a lens of skepticism, of course. The above beer-job numbers, after all, feel like somewhat arbitrary statistics turned meaningless by an endless cycle of "Industry A Provides XX Jobs" headlines.

However, there is one telling stat that speaks to San Francisco's relationship to beer. San Francisco, the study noted, has 21 brewing establishments. By comparison, Milwaukee, home to Miller Brewing Co. and $1.9 billion in beer-related economic activity, contains 13 brewing establishments; Boston, home to the Sam Adams brewery, also has 13; St. Louis, home to Anheuser-Busch and half a million beer-supported jobs and more than $600 billion in beer-related economic activity, contains 18 brewing establishments.

Never mind jobs and economic impact numbers. SF's brewing culture can trade haymakers with the heavyweights.

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