A fellow Alehead recently asked which state in the Union would be the ideal locale for a beer snob such as himself. Obviously, when choosing a home state, there are many more factors to consider other than “how easy is it to procure high-quality beer? (for instance, “how easy is it to procure high-quality bourbon?”). Nevertheless, the question piqued my interest. I suppose the easiest answer (thus the one I’m choosing), is to determine which state has the most breweries per capita. This certainly doesn’t tell you how good the local breweries are…maybe they’re all horseshit…but it gives you an idea of the dedication to beer culture in each state. A small state with a ton of breweries is probably well populated with Aleheads. A large state with just a handful of breweries…not so much. Granted, this kind of study will probably skew towards smaller states (since per capita numbers drop quickly when the total population is low). But what do you want from me…it’s a free blog. And, as always, you get what you pay for.
Fortunately for my lazy ass, the work was already done for me on numerous beer sites. Sure, you could Googlefy it or Bingaling it yourself, but you’re already here, so why bother. A few comments before the overall numbers:
The Top 10 include two New England states (Vermont at #1 and Maine at #4), all three Pacific Northwest States (Oregon at #2, Alaska at #5, Washington at #8), four Mountain West states (Montana at #3, Colorado at #6, Wyoming at #7, and Idaho at #10), plus Wisconsin at #9. So the “best” state for an Alehead to live in depends on which part of the country you prefer. As an ex-New Englander who desperately misses the ocean and lobster, Maine would be high on my list (and while Vermont tops the entire list, it also has the 2nd lowest total population which skews the per capita number…Maine has nearly double the amount of breweries as VT). If you’re a ski-bum and mountain lover, Colorado is probably your choice since it has more breweries overall than any other state in the Top 10 except Washington.
In truth, you could make an argument for any of the Top 10…plus you have to throw California into the mix since it has more than twice as many breweries than any other state (per capita it’s just #18, but that’s due to its massive population).
But you don’t come to Aleheads.com for dithering…you come for answers. So the answer is: Oregon. Plain and simple. Per capita, it’s only slightly behind Vermont for the #1 spot, but it has almost 6 times as many breweries as the Green Mountain state. Its combination of breweries/brewpubs per Oregonian plus overall variety is simply unmatched. Hell, the city of Portland (aka Beertown, USA) has 32 breweries alone. Throw in some of the most well-respected ale factories in the world (Rogue, Deschutes, Hair of the Dog, Ninkasi, Double Mountain) and you’ve got yourself a true Alehead Haven. So here’s to the Beaver State. Your nickname may be a euphemism for a woman’s naughty parts, but you’re a shining Beer Beacon to the rest of the nation.*
*It should go without saying that my current home state of Alabama is a solid second to last in the rankings. As in everything else, the only state we beat out is Mississippi. Why do I live here? Who the fuck knows…
Here’s the full chart:
|2009 RANK||2008 RANK||STATE||BREWERIES/ BREWPUBS||2009 POPULATION||PER CAPITA|