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Economy

San Diego Brewers Continue To Cook Up Profits

A bartender serves beer at Stone Brewery in this undated photo.
Declan Fleming
A bartender serves beer at Stone Brewery in this undated photo.

San Diego Brewers Continue To Cook Up Profits
San Diego's 114 breweries and brewpubs had combined sales of $851 million last year and collectively employed more than 4,500 workers, according to a new report.

San Diego's 114 breweries and brewpubs had combined sales of $851 million last year and collectively employed more than 4,500 workers, according to a report released Tuesday by the National University System Institute for Policy Research.

The figures show strong growth from the year before — $125 million more in revenue and about 750 additional employees.

Report author Vince Vasquez said that despite the increases, the local brewing industry faces some challenges ahead that will bear watching.

"Industry sales and jobs continue to rise each year in San Diego, but the local marketplace for craft beer is changing," Vasquez said. "Regional marketing efforts and consumer education will be critical in identifying `craft' brewers in a new era of industry acquisitions and expansions in San Diego."

Among the challenges is the average brewery wage that had hit $40,000 locally in 2014 and slipped under $37,000 the following year. San Diego breweries have offered the highest wages in the industry, but were nearly matched in 2015 by counterparts in Portland and Boulder, Colorado, according to the report.

The San Diego pay rate was comparable to the level of 2012, according to the study.

Vasquez said 52 percent of area brewery workers were employed full-time, with the largest and most established firms and the newest and smallest having the largest percentage of full-time employees. He found that mid-sized breweries were most dependent on part-timers.

The National University System Institute for Policy Research asked brewers about how concerned they are about the California drought.
National University System Institute for Policy Research
The National University System Institute for Policy Research asked brewers about how concerned they are about the California drought.

According to the report, about 47 percent of the San Diego Brewing Industry were also "somewhat concerned" about the drought and water availability in California.

Other concerns listed by brewery executives were access to capital, the availability of real estate, and distribution. Taxes, and state and federal regulations, were the lowest of nine potential impediments to growth that they considered, said the report.