Where Is Craft Beer Most Popular In America?
It’s difficult to miss the degree of variety beer lovers can enjoy at this moment in the US. This is due to the explosion of small breweries coming on to the scene, which emphasize experimenting with flavors and styles.
As Priceonomics.com notes, over the past 40 years (thanks to deregulation in the beer industry) the number of breweries in America expanded from a post-prohibition low of under 100, to over 5,000 in 2016. The bulk of this growth comes from small breweries, the most familiar to consumers being the microbrewery.
According to the Brewers Association, a trade group for American craft brewers, a microbrewery is any local and independent brewer that sells fewer than 15,000 barrels of beer per year and sells at least 75% through other bars, restaurants, and liquor stores.
Unfortunately, it’s not the case that you can walk to your local liquor store and choose from 5,000 different breweries to bring home tonight. The reach of small breweries are confined to particular markets as most microbreweries have limited and local distribution. The variety from these small craft breweries is typically limited to the state or metro area the brewery where the brewery is located. The fact is, some areas of the country are just better for beer aficionados who want lots of options.
So where do you have the best chance to sample the greatest variety of beer possible? Which states and cities have the most breweries overall?
We analyzed business listing data from Priceonomics customer Datafiniti to offer some perspective into that. This data set included the listings of craft breweries along with their locations. We combined this with supplementary information from the Brewers Association catalog of breweries, to offer more specific details.
From our analysis, we are able to find out in what parts of America breweries reign supreme.
So, which state has the most breweries?
Number one is California by a serious margin, with over 600 breweries. Colorado and Washington are the next closest with about 350 each. With 15 or fewer breweries, Hawaii, Mississippi, Washington D.C. and North Dakota are at the bottom of our list. We found that cities in the Pacific Northwest and Colorado are your best bet for finding the most breweries in one place. Cities along the coasts and in the Midwest are also solid destinations. There are also some exciting small cities outside of this trend that should not be overlooked (like Asheville, NC). Vermont is the state with the most craft breweries per capita, while Boulder, Colorado is the city with the highest density of craft breweries.
Looking at the information in absolute terms skews our list towards the larger states with greater population. It’s intuitive that states with more people (and therefore more beer drinkers) would be able to support more breweries.
Understanding the number of breweries per capita will tell us where breweries are most plentiful relative to population…
The title of most breweries per capita goes to Vermont. Even though they only have about 50 in total, since the state is so small, that equates to 8 breweries per person. Montana, Colorado, Maine, and Oregon all have about 6 breweries per person. Overall we see a strong presence of breweries in the Pacific Northwest, New England, and the Midwest.