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Beer is now a billion dollar industry in East Tennessee

Yeah, that says "billion."

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Local craft beer is more than just a fad in Tennessee. It's a booming business.

Now, it's a multi-billion dollar industry across the state.

When you go to one of Knoxville's breweries and buy a $4 beer, you're playing a part in that industry by generating tax revenue, worker wages, and growing the beer business.

In East Tennessee, that has a pretty big pull.

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"There's hundreds of restaurants, there's hundreds of bars, but you know there's only a handful of breweries right now," said Peter Riesing, owner of Printshop Beer Co. in South Knoxville.

But that handful of breweries, their suppliers and customers are adding to the $4.2 billion beer industry in Tennessee.

Yeah, that says "billion."

This comes from the newly released report from Beer Serves America, which looked at the economic impact of the beer industry in the U.S. in 2018.

Beer's impact of $4.2 billion in Tennessee sounds like a lot of money,and it is, but nationwide the report said the beer industry contributed $328 billion to the U.S. economy last year.

Here in East Tennessee, the beer industry made jobs for 9,418 people last year.

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That's everyone from brewers and bar tenders to farmers and construction workers.

"Working with malt suppliers, hop suppliers that are local, regional, they give back directly to this kind of regional community," said Riesing.

Printshop is Knoxville's newest brewery, it opened around this time last year. It has about eight direct employees in the brewery, but impacts a lot more.

"There's hundreds of people indirectly affected by Printshop," said Riesing.

Beer Serves America reports revenue from East Tennessee brewing alone totaled over $1.3 billion in 2018.

It's $1,329,583,100, to be exact, and that growth isn't stopping any time soon.

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"We all want to lift up the industry instead of compete and bow out other breweries," said Charles Reese, a bartender at Printshop.

With Elst Brewing and Next Level brewing opening taprooms in North Knoxville, and Asheville-based Hi-Wire brewing doing the same in South Knoxville, Printshop says 'welcome' to a continuing local beer boom.

"The more we have other breweries challenging us and us challenging other breweries, the better we can make beer and the industry as a whole," said Reese.

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