Beer boom creating thousands of jobs

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KALONA, Iowa (KCRG) - Beer brewers across eastern Iowa are staying busy. The beer boom across the country has created more than 5,000 jobs according to the Beer Institute and the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

Glass of Beer, Photo Date July 2017. Courtesy MGN/PIxaby

More breweries are popping up across the country, including in Iowa. In 2015, there were 65 breweries in Iowa.

By the end of 2019, there will be more than 100.

Breweries that have opened in small towns throughout Iowa have also provided an economic impact.

Kalona Brewing Company says its brewery has become a tourism destination. Workers say people will stop in for a beer and a meal, then shop at some downtown spots afterward.

Kalona Brewing also buys most of its products locally.

Kalona Brewing has also had to make a lot of hires to compete with all the new breweries. In the past couple of years, it doubled the number of brewers, added to the sales team, and hired a person dedicated to marketing.

Workers say the beer industry brings good paying jobs with benefits and room for growth.

"In just a couple of years, you can go from knowing almost nothing and making kind of, you know, a living wage,” said Elliot Lamb, General Manager of Kalona Brewing Company. “To having a really creative role and having a huge impact."

Kalona Brewing says the push to shop local is one reason behind more breweries popping up. Workers say people are willing to pay more for a good local product, instead of buying from a big distributor.

This is how much the beer industry has grown: there were only 50 vendors back in 1983

With the growth, officials are reminding people to be responsible if they are going to have a drink.

Iowa produced more than 120,000 barrels of beer last year, according to the Iowa Brewers Guild.