Colorado has officially become the largest beer producing state in the US, according to a recent study.

The Beer Institute said yesterday (27 September) that Colorado produced over 23.3m barrels, or 724.5m gallons, of beer in 2006, making it the leading state in terms of production.

Data also indicated that the beer industry supports Colorado's economy, with brewers, beer importers, beer distributors, brewer suppliers and retailers accounting for 67,918 jobs and contributing US$12.4bn annually to the state's economy.

US senator Ken Salazar said: "The beer industry has been a positive force in our state for many years, providing a number of important economic benefits including good jobs and a steady source of revenue for our local communities."

Colorado governor Bill Ritter added: "Colorado breweries are also increasingly using and producing renewable energy, which is good for the industry, good for the environment, and good for developing more home-grown sources of energy."

Colorado, home to industry trade groups such as the Brewers Association, which has represented small brewers in the US since 1942, also hosts an annual 'Great American Beer Festival' in Denver.