National Beer Lover’s Day highlights Pennsylvania’s booming beer economy

The sounds, the colors, the smells; as a Pennsylvanian, you’re kind of prone to the lure of beer.

“A pretty strong tradition of beer consumption in the state of Pennsylvania,” said Alan Miller, a local brewer.

Miller is prepping for his first National Beer Lover’s Day after opening his own brewery, Boneshire Brew Works, in Harrisburg last year.

“This was an old machine shop, actually,” he said.

Boneshire has all the ingredients that are quintessential of Pennsylvania’s beer wave.

“I think there was about 120 in the state and now we’re over 250,” said Alison Feeny, a Shippensburg University professor, “so just in the last two or three years, we’ve doubled or tripled.”

Feeny became interested in the subject and was tasked with mapping out the state’s breweries.

“You start seeing we have a lot of breweries in very small towns of the state,” she said, adding that Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have the most, for obvious population reasons.

On the whole, breweries contribute $4 billion to Pennsylvania’s local economies.

“We rank second after California,” Feeny said. “And to me, what’s really interesting is how that’s contributing to maintaining those small downtowns that would otherwise be declining.”

She added that breweries aren’t just making money, they’re also saving money by often reusing historical buildings.

“A great example of that is in Gettysburg with the Battlefield Brew Works,” she said.

Other companies have been popping up throughout the state to complement the beer industry.

“Whether it be T-shirt-making to glassware to hop-growing,” said Miller, who brews a beer with locally-grown hops.

The good news: every time you’re tempted by a cold pour, our beer economy continues to brew.

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