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February 27, 2016

Licensed Pennsylvania breweries have nearly doubled in three years

Craft beer market has expanded by 10 to 15 percent annually over the last decade

Pennsylvania beer lovers, rejoice: the number of licensed breweries in the Keystone State has nearly doubled over the last three years, providing further proof that we're still in the thick of a sudsy boom.

According to statistics from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, there were 224 active breweries statewide by the end of 2015, up from 114 in 2013 and 159 in 2014, The Sentinal reports.

Leading the way in Pennsylvania's expanding market are an influx of craft beer breweries, including Philadelphia trailblazers Victory, Sly Fox and Yards. In central Pennsylvania, established companies like Founders, Stone Brewing and Troegs have been joined by newcomers Alter Ego, Moo-Duck and Molly Pitcher. Out west, Draai Laag, Roundabout, Hop Farm, Voodoo stand out among an impressive group.

The surge in demand has been so swift that brewers in central Pennsylvania told the Washington Times – as early as 2014 – that it was creating incredible pressures, including longer hours and increased expenses. Two years later, a little more competition has actually been welcome.

The Liquor Control Board says another 16 breweries are in "safekeeping" status pending the completion of facility construction and LCB inspections. On top of that, 18 breweries submitted applications late in 2015 and were awaiting review.

Among those in "safekeeping" status, the Desperate Times Brewery, planned for Carlisle, revealed in documents filed for its building permit that the craft beer market in Pennsylvania has expanded 10 to 15 percent per year over the last decade alone.

The recent acceleration appears to be driven, at least in part, by the elimination of an LCB regulation requiring breweries to obtain a brewery pub license in order to serve their own beer. As of May 2015, they can do so as long as they provide food and seating for a minimum of ten people.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, was recently ranked the 12th best beer city in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure, which commended newcomers like Crime & Punishment Brewing Co. and the Ben Franklin-inspired Do Good Brewing.