PA's Brewski Boom

"We stay nuts and bolts - we make beer," says Richard L. Yuengling Jr., owner of D.G Yuengling & Son Pottsville, Pa. MARK GAMBOL / D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. / Bloomberg News

Let's all take a moment on a cold winter day to pay homage to a booming biz in PA.

For while winter might not be the time to think beer, you should know that suds are sizzling here.

(That's my two-line ditty in praise of one of mankind's oldest and best creations, dating back to -- according to Wikipedia, the source of all modern knowledge -- at least "the 5th millenium BC.")

The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, defying the notion that our Legislature is totally worthless, this week issued its "Study of the Economic Impact of the Brewery Industry in the Commonwealth."

(You can read the study by visiting the committee's Wesbite and clicking on "what's new?")

And it's more than just a catchy title.

Highlights include the heartening fact that as of Dec. 31, 2011 there were more than 100 licensed and operating breweries in the state, almost double the number from 10 years ago.

And, lest you think this growth is geographically restricted to benefit only some parts of the state, the study says we now have breweries in 34 of our 67 counties.

The direct economic impact of all this oasting is estimated at $1.1 billion, with a "b" for beer; 2 million visitors to breweries spent $306 million in 2010.

Capital investment in brewery plant and equipment grew 318% over the past five years (take that frackers!). And breweries employ more that 2,600 full- and part-time workers, an employment bump of 10% during the same period.

More than that, the committee concludes that the broader impact of beer produced and sold in the state supports 10,000 jobs, $296 million in wages and brings in $365 million in state and local taxes.

(Not sure how that all works, but my guess is researchers sample malt beverages during their study.)

So let's not growl about the bitter cold. Let's rejoice for the beer we've sold.