Oregon may have surpassed Vermont last year as the state with the most breweries per capita. That's one conclusion of a new report from Oregon's employment department.
Nailing down the number of jobs created by Oregon's brewing industry has always been a bit of a slippery proposition. That's because a lot of those jobs happen to be at places you might classify as a brewpub -- a restaurant that brews beer in the back.
Unfortunately, it's not easy to differentiate those jobs from positions at more traditional restaurants. So about a year ago, Carolyn Eagan who was then a regional economist with the state, started plowing through a list of Oregon liquor licensees. Eventually she determined there were about 4,600 of these jobs in Oregon in 2011 and not just in Portland and Bend.
"Two-thirds of the counties in the state have breweries or brewpubs. I mean, that sort of geographic diversity was not something I expected."
Eagan says between 2007 and 2011 Oregon's total employment shrank by 6 percent. At the same time brewery and brewpub employment spiked by 30 percent.