Top five states for craft brewing output per capita in 2017

1. Colorado, $764.19

2. Vermont, $681.87

3. Pennsylvania, $658.52

4. Oregon, $647.62

5. Maine, $592.89

Source: Craft Brewers Association

The Oregon craft beer industry continued to grow in 2017, but at a slower rate than in years past, a sign that the market is maturing, according to data by the Craft Brewers Association.

The industry contributed $2.02 billion to Oregon’s economy, a 2.02 percent increase over 2016, said Bart Watson, chief economist of the Brewers Association, a member trade organization headquartered in Boulder, Colorado. The craft beer industry encompasses production, distribution, kettle makers, hop growers and the people they employ, Watson said.

Nationwide, the craft brewing industry contributed $76.2 billion to the U.S. economy in 2017, Watson said, citing a report on the economic impact of craft beer released in mid-August.

“The craft beer market growth is slowing,” Watson said. “It’s not growing as fast as it used to be. Oregon is still a leader, but we are not seeing the explosive growth we saw from 2011 to 2014.”

The state ranks No. 4 in economic impact per capita, he said, right behind Pennsylvania. With about 36 breweries in Central Oregon as of 2016, tracking economic trends plays a key role for businesses and employment. Oregon scores high on the per capita ranking because 20 percent or more of the beer produced stays in Oregon, Watson said. That’s a high percentage for a state that doesn’t have a large brewery in it, Watson said.

At Deschutes Brewery, CEO Michael LaLonde said it’s a great time to be in the craft beer business.

“The craft beer industry has continued to mature and evolve, and today’s drinker is always looking for something new and different to try,” LaLonde said. “Smaller, independent breweries like ours are designed to meet that need with our ability to turn out new, exciting recipes and flavors fairly quickly.”

Employment is another key indicator of growth. Oregon brewpubs account for about 68 percent, or 5,560 of the industry’s jobs, according to a state of Oregon Employment Department report.

The Brewers Association found that craft brewing employed 14,357 people in Oregon in 2017, about the same as the year before. The impact grew, but the jobs and wages held steady, Watson said.

“Oregon is more mature than the national market,” Watson said. “We’re not seeing the explosive growth that we saw a few years ago. By maturing I mean that the boom years, where demand so out-stripped supply that everyone could grow and succeed, are largely over.”

With just two years of brewing under its belt, Monkless Belgian Ales in Bend is bucking the trend of slowing growth.

Among the few Pacific Northwest brewers of Trappist and Abby style ales, Monkless is on track to produce about 700 barrels this year, compared to 450 barrels in 2016, said Robin Clement, who co-owns the brewery with her husband, Todd.

“A large part of that is not just our tasting room, but was increasing our distribution footprint,” Clement said.

“We are self-distributing in Portland and Southern Oregon. We are working hard to expand our distribution network.”

Also fueling the growth at Monkless is supplying products to an online beer club, she said.

“These things have really helped fuel our growth over the course of the year. We expect to grow next year.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2117,