The Impact of the Craft Brewing Industry in Greater Minnesota

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

Photo credit: Arri Velasco

It's no secret that craft beer has become increasingly popular in recent years. Creative beers from breweries throughout the U.S. can be found gracing liquor store shelves and bar taps nationwide. Minnesota is no stranger to craft brews. Whether it's Fergus Falls, Duluth, or the Twin Cities, the craft brewing industry is making its mark on Minnesota with a variety of breweries and taprooms. With breweries continuing to pop up, some seemingly overnight at times, the industry has had a pretty major impact on both the U.S and Minnesota economy.

What Qualifies as Craft?

It’s important to note that not just any beer can be labeled as "craft." There are three main requirements a brewery must satisfy to be considered as such. To put it simply, a brewery is qualified if it is small, independent, and traditional. DEED explains these requirements in more detail, stating, “A brewery qualifies as ‘small’ if it brews fewer than 6 million barrels of beer a year and ‘independent’ if no less than 75 percent of the business is owned by a craft brewing company. A craft brewery is considered ‘traditional’ if it has an all-malt flagship beer or if 50 percent of its total volume is in all-malt beers.

The Brewer's Association further segments the craft brewing industry, breaking brewers into six different categories:

  • Microbreweries

  • Brewpubs

  • Taproom breweries

  • Regional breweries

  • Contract brewing companies

  • Alternating proprietors

Photo credit: Arri Velasco

The State of the Craft Brewing Industry in Minnesota

“Craft beer is king, and the economic impact of the craft brewing industry is growing larger by the year.” Truer words have never been spoken; Minnesota alone has experienced significant growth in the industry over the last 13 years. What started as fewer than ten breweries and taprooms in 2007 has now grown to nearly 200 statewide.

In just over a decade, Minnesota has become an industry leader, ranking 14th nationally for breweries per capita and 12th for barrels of craft beer produced annually. In terms of economic impact, the Land of 10,000 Lakes ranks 13th at just over $2 billion. That may be a modest piece of the 79.1 billion dollar pie small and independent craft brewers have contrib