Craft brewery surge led by Northeast, Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountains

If you’re a craft beer fan, it’s good to live in the northern corners of the country.

The Northeast and Pacific Northwest boast the most craft breweries per capita of any other region in the nation. States along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains also fall near the top of the list, according to data collected from the Brewers Association and the U.S. Census Bureau from 2015.

However, those who live in the southern part of the country might have a hard time finding brews outside of the Budweiser or Miller variety: eight of the 10 states with the fewest craft breweries per capita can be found below the Mason–Dixon line.

For states with the most craft breweries, Vermont leads the way overall with just over seven (7.03) breweries per 100,000 people, followed by Oregon (5.66) and Colorado (5.2). Montana (4.74), Maine (4.44), Wyoming (3.92), Alaska (3.66), New Hampshire (3.31) and Idaho (3.02) round out the top 10.

Mississippi holds the distinction for least craft breweries per capita with just 0.27 breweries per 100,000 people. Oklahoma (0.36), Louisiana (0.43), Georgia (0.44) and Alabama (0.49) round out the bottom five, followed by Kentucky (0.54), New Jersey (0.57), West Virginia (0.65), Texas (0.69) and Utah (0.73).

Here’s the link to the interactive map.


Politically aware people may notice some of the more liberal areas of the country (specifically the Northeast and Pacific Northwest) tend to serve as fertile ground for craft breweries. More conservative areas of the country, (the South and Utah), appear to stunt the growth of the craft beer industry.

Could this mean craft beers are not seen as patriotic in some way? Or do people in the southern latitudes just care for craft beer less than those in the northern?

The data seems to support the latter: Midwestern states Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa and Indiana hold down spots No. 12-No. 16 for most craft breweries per capita, respectively.

Northern mountain states Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, which typically lean conservative in the polls, appear to support the northern versus southern latitude theory as well.

Southern states like Kentucky and Mississippi are famous for their whiskeys, moonshine and other distilled liquors as well, so there is perhaps good reason to believe the craft beer divide is preferential, not ideological.

California may only have 1.32 craft breweries (25th overall) for every 100,000 of its 39.1 million residents in 2015, but the Golden State still possesses over 200 more craft breweries than any other.

California is home to 518 different craft breweries while runner-up Washington can boast “just” 305. Rounding out the top 10 in overall numbers are Colorado (284 breweries), Oregon (228), New York (208), Michigan (205), Texas (189), Pennsylvania (178), North Carolina (161) and Illinois (157).

Mississippi comes out on top — or at the bottom — again in another “least” category, claiming just eight craft breweries within its borders. North Dakota is right behind with nine while West Virginia (12) and Hawaii (13) hold claim to spots three and four. Three states (South Dakota, Rhode Island and Oklahoma) tie for fifth on the least overall breweries list with 14 apiece.

Washington D.C. technically slides between North Dakota and West Virginia with 10 craft breweries, but that number still gives it a healthy 1.49 breweries for every 100,000 people, good for 21st overall.


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