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Study finds beer industry brings billions to Oklahoma economy

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Posted at 10:09 PM, Jun 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-08 23:16:28-04

TULSA, Okla. — A new study shows the beer industry brought billions of dollars to Oklahoma’s economy last year.

A Beer Serves America study said the beer industry supported more than 17,000 jobs in Oklahoma last year and had a $2.9 billion economic impact.

While local breweries took a hit from the pandemic, they're now starting to bounce back.

“If it weren’t for the community we have here, it would have been a lot more grim for us," said Jonathan Neff, CEO and head brewer at NEFF Brewing.

Tables are filling up at local breweries, but this wasn’t the case last spring when taprooms closed due to COVID-19.

“In March, our sales started dropping," Neff said. "We ended up closing our taproom down entirely for the month of April while we were focusing on growing our distribution.”

Neff said they had to pivot their business last year and were able to survive thanks to starting their canning line.

“Being brewers, we kind of have to be a jack of all trades and know how to do all types of things," Neff said. "So, it was just kind of natural for us to just want to adapt to the environment and say okay, let’s change our business model, let’s focus on distribution."

It was a similar case at American Solera. When the taproom closed, they served curbside and on the patio. Now that the doors are open, they’re seeing an increase in sales from last year.

“Things really started to turn the corner for us about end of March, end of April," said Chase Healey, co-owner of American Solera. "In the last couple of months, we’re seeing sales back up 30, 40 percent from last year in those same months. So, we’re very optimistic to say the least.”

Now that life is slowly returning to normal, local breweries are able to get back to their taprooms. Neff Brewing saw taproom numbers in May higher than those in 2019.

The community is finding a place to gather once again.

“We want to be that place that families can come, that friends can meet up," Healey said. "I think that’s been a shift in beer, where breweries are less worried about getting their products into stores, into restaurants, and more making themselves the destination for people to come to.”

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