Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Back in the old days of urban planning streets were designed to furnish essentials for living with a church on one corner and bar directly across. If you couldn’t find solace in one, you’d find it in the other. And during tough economic times both corners would be busy.

Then in 1918 Prohibition became law and closed down the corner bar. Is it a coincidence that after enduring 11 years of the alcohol ban that the Stock Market crashed and the Great Depression began? Maybe not, but beer did help turn our economy around.

President Roosevelt believed that ending Prohibition would help put an end to the Depression. FDR believed that reopening breweries would not only create jobs, it would put money in circulation, and bolster the treasury’s coffers with new tax money. According to the North American Brewers’ Association, “beer helped turn the tide. Its impact on the economy has continued ever since.”

Thanks to we can see the economic impact of beer by state or even zip code. Of course we all know that beer is quite important in Colorado. But it has become even more important in the global economy. As trade and economics improve in developing nations the taste for beer is on the rise. All this popularity is, however, straining the world’s supply of hops—the key ingredient. So beer prices, like everything else are on the rise.

This may be good news for a brewery that’s in our backyard. Sales for Coors Brewing Company have been down for quite a while. But beer drinkers may find themselves in search of an alternative as craft beers climb toward $10 a six pack.

The relationship between beer and the economy is summed up in this 2005 clip from a Slate article by Daniel Gross:

When the economy is booming, we pound a six-pack of Bud with our buddies and watch the game. When the economy is lousy, we pound a six-pack of Coors with our buddies and watch the game. When the economy is flat, we pound a six-pack of Miller with our buddies and watch the game.

Gross was lamenting the changes that took place among the big brewers in 2005, but his basic analogy remains unchanged.

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