Craft beer has given a lot to California, but it has also taken away.
Last week, the California Craft Brewers Association announced just how much of a boon to the state the industry has been: Craft beer, it said, has contributed $6.5 billion to the state’s economy, an 18% increase since 2013. As of March 2015, there were 554 breweries in the state, making 3.4 million barrels of craft beer, or 105.4 million gallons. (One barrel is 31 gallons.)
But that’s a lot of beer for a state in the middle of an historic drought to produce. Beer is delicious and lucrative, but it also uses a lot of precious water. Figuring out just how much water, though, is a complicated question.