When it comes to the best places for drinking beer, some states are simply better than others. Sure, you can pick up a 6-pack at your local grocery store pretty much anywhere, but for brew enthusiasts, where you live can greatly impact your beer-drinking quality of life.
So which states are the best and worst for beer lovers?
To answer that question as objectively as possible, we took a data-driven approach. We combined several widely watched and interesting sets of data around beer production, like excise taxes, with an eye toward not overly biasing for small or large population states.
Each state was ranked for the following:
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- The number of craft breweries per 100,000 21+ adults in 2021 (via Brewers Association)
- The number of total breweries per 100,000 21+ adults in 2021 (via Brewers Association)
- The number of barrels of craft beer produced per 100,000 21+ adults in 2021 (via Brewers Association)
- The total number of barrels of craft beer produced in 2021 (via Brewers Association)
- The amount of state excise taxes levied upon beer in 2021 (via Tax Foundation)
- The number of beers currently ranked in the top 100 on Beer Advocate as of June 27, 2022
- The top 25 brewpubs, nano breweries, micro breweries, regional breweries, and macro breweries as ranked by Untappd as of June 27, 2022
- The number beers currently ranked on VinePair’s 25 Most Important IPAs (2021)
We determined a definitive ranking of the best states in America for beer lovers. Whether you agree or disagree, this list isn’t subjective. Check out the map, and then keep reading to learn how your state stacks up.
A quick note: when you see per capita below, it refers to per 100,000 21+ adults.
With the lowest number of craft breweries and total breweries per capita, as well as the fewest barrels of craft beer produced per capita, Mississippi ranks last on the list for beer lovers. It’s OK if beer isn’t your thing, Mississippi. Maybe try a nice rice gin, instead.
This state isn’t particularly known for its craft beer, either. While football reigns supreme when it comes to entertainment, most fall tailgates are filled with macro lagers and nips of spirits as opposed to local ales. And you can’t really blame the fans for that, either, since there are just 52 craft breweries statewide — a mere 1.39 per capita — which means there’s not a lot of beer to go around. Whether or not you include macro breweries, Alabama sits near the absolute bottom of the table in terms of breweries per capita. Beer just isn’t this state’s thing.
Home to the Razorbacks and a meager 46 breweries across the entire state, Arkansas ranks 49th on our list. Yes, there is a growing craft beer scene in Little Rock, with breweries like Stone’s Throw making great beers, but it is still small when compared to other cities of similar size in states with more favorable beer environments.
48. West Virginia
What about craft beer in the Mountain State? Data tells us that there are a mere 29 craft breweries in the state, which is about two per 100,000 residents over 21, therefore placing West Virginia in 43rd place. Combine this data point with the rest of the data we looked at, and you have a state that isn’t ideal for beer.
It’s true Kentucky is better known for bourbon than for beer, so we’ll give it that. But Kentucky Common, a beer style native to Louisville, might just change what beer means to the Bluegrass State. Right now, Kentucky sits toward the back of the pack on all measures: It’s 39th in total and craft breweries per capita, 40th in craft barrels per capita, and an unfriendly 47th on the excise tax front.
While not previously thought of as a craft beer destination, breweries are slowly emerging in the Beehive State. Currently Utah features only 40 breweries, which on a per capita basis puts them at 48th in the country in terms of craft and total breweries, and clocks them in at 46 on our list when we survey the data.
45. District of Columbia
D.C. might be the smallest spot on our list, but it makes up for it in craft brewery options. There are nearly three breweries per capita, which means a total of 15 breweries across our nation’s capital. Those 15 breweries — all of them craft breweries — are good for the 34th spot on a total and per capita basis. Excise taxes in the District are the sixth highest in the country, though, at $.72. Ouch.
With the highest state excise tax on beer nationwide — a staggering $1.29 — it’s no wonder Tennessee finds itself near the bottom of the list. With 142 breweries, all but one of which are considered craft, the Volunteer State ranks 36th per capita on both counts. In terms of craft barrels, the state sits a bit lower, at 39th.
If you’re visiting the Sooner State, you’ll probably sample a craft beer sooner or later. There are 76 brewery locations to choose from — which we’d say is just OK! Those 76 breweries, all craft, are good for 37th per capita. It’s fair to see they don’t punch above their weight, as craft barrels per capita come in all the way down at 45th. On the bright side? State heavyweight COOP Ale Works has a booming business producing Sonic Hard Seltzer.
Parish Brewing’s Ghost in the Machine is one of the most beloved beers in Louisiana, and Abita still holds it down as one of the largest and most well-known craft breweries in the nation. Beyond that, though, enthusiasts can only visit 44 other brewery locations across the state.
Nevada is home to Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam, and a total of only 53 breweries, with 51 of them being craft. That’s only good for 42nd place per capita. The state gets a bit of a boost, though, when it comes to the $0.16 excise tax, coming in at 15th best in the nation.
40. South Carolina
On Johns Island, Low Tide Brewing is a particular standout in this East Coast state. Edmund’s Oast and Westbrook are also both national craft beer darlings. But South Carolina sits squarely in the middle of the pack at 29th place in terms of craft breweries per capita, and ranks near the bottom of the list in terms of total barrels.
For the state’s over 2 million adults older than 21, Kansas offers 66 breweries, or three per capita, which is pretty good for 33rd place. But the state still isn’t particularly known for its craft beer scene. If you’re wondering why, consider that those breweries collectively produce the third-lowest number of barrels per capita. It’s also worth noting that Boulevard, one of the largest craft breweries in the country, sits just across the border in Kansas City, Mo., not Kansas City, Kan.
Even though Georgia ranks 14th for total barrels of craft beer produced last year, it still only ranks 29th in per capita breweries. That means while Georgians have a lot of barrels of beer, they don’t have a wide selection of breweries to choose from — roughly two per capita — which is probably why so many of their breweries seem to be so ubiquitous, like Sweetwater, Creature Comforts, Monday Night, and Terrapin. On the tax front, Georgia ranks in the bottom 10 with one of the nation’s highest rates.
37. North Dakota
It looks like North Dakota has quite a few beer lovers already: It ranks No. 4 in states that consume the most beer. However, there are only 23 breweries to serve the state’s over 500,000 adults over 21, which places it squarely in the middle of the pack. In addition, its craft output is at the bottom, sitting at a measly 49th overall. Another negative is that taxes on beer are among the highest in the country.
36. New Jersey
Sitting in the shadow of NYC and Philly, cities that have both seen an explosion of craft breweries over the past decade, New Jersey gets overlooked as a spot to open up a great brewery. That means New Jersey sits toward the back of the pack in most respects when it comes to the data. The only reason it ranks higher than it might otherwise is because the state makes up for its low showing with some of the lowest taxes in the country, as well as some well-regarded breweries.
Fun fact: Maryland is sometimes called “America in Miniature.” The craft beer scene is a bit on the smaller side, too. Across the state’s over 12,000 square miles, there are 126 breweries to go around, which is near the middle of the pack on a per capita basis. Helping to boost the state’s ranking is that it’s home to Flying Dog Brewery, the 35th largest craft brewery in the country.
Craft beer in Hawaii is created locally, and mostly enjoyed locally (but if you pick up a bottle of Kona on the mainland, it wasn’t brewed in Hawaii). Sitting near the top of the heap at 10th place in craft barrels produced, the state’s 27 breweries punch above their weight. But at a whopping $0.93 per gallon, the Aloha State’s excise taxes on beer are among the highest in the nation. Yikes.
Similar to Tennessee, Arizona also offers weary travelers an array of craft beer options at its airport. There are 121 craft breweries to enjoy across the state, which is right in the middle overall, but puts Arizona near the back of the pack on a per capita basis. Total craft barrels produced come in at 26th place. Taxes are also on the low side.
Looking to kick back with a craft beer after a Cornhuskers game? This state has 63 breweries to choose from, all of them craft, which is good for 21st place on a per capita basis. Taxes, while not outrageous at $.31, are on the high side, though.
For the second-largest state, Texas does have its fair share of breweries: There are a total of 415 breweries across the Lonestar State, 406 of them craft. But for the second-biggest state, you’d hope for a lot more. This amount means the state is only 47th in breweries per capita, and while there are some amazing breweries that have massive amounts of national respect (looking at you, Jester King), there should be many more given the population size.
30. South Dakota
For breweries per capita, South Dakota isn’t looking too bad: It ranks in a noteworthy 10th place. Alas, those breweries don’t produce a lot of beer, as craft barrels come in at a lowly 42nd place. Quantity doesn’t necessarily equal quality, but that’s quite a gulf. For Yelpers, Remedy Brewing Company in Sioux Falls is the best brewery in the Mount Rushmore State.
Home to the Windy City and over 9 million residents of drinking age, Illinois isn’t playing around when it comes to craft beer. We’re long past the days when an independent Goose Island drove nationwide excitement with Bourbon Country Stout releases, but the state still punches above its weight in national influence. The Emerald Grouper from Pipeworks Brewing Company is the state’s highest-rated IPA, while Hop Butcher’s Neon Green Relish and Pipeworks’ Ninja Vs. Unicorn are among the most important IPAs right now. Perhaps as a surprise to many, when it comes to the numbers, Illinois is decidedly mediocre, both on a total and per capita basis: While the sixth most populated state is home to 299 craft breweries, that’s only good for 13th overall and 32nd per capita.
Florida has long been known to have good craft beer, thanks in large part to Cigar City and its trailblazing Jai Alai IPA that is still one of the best IPAs you can reliably find in the grocery store. J. Wakefield also has a number of beers sitting in Beer Advocate’s top 100. Game changers in the state of Florida are also elevating the craft beer scene; Nonprofit Beer Kulture in St. Petersburg is opening up craft brews to more potential beer lovers across the nation. But while there may not be an income tax in the Sunshine State, excise taxes on beer are among the highest in the country.
27. Rhode Island
This state might seem small on the craft brewery scene, but its 37 craft breweries equal out to roughly four per capita, good for 22nd place. Narragansett Beer practically put Rhode Island beer on the map — if you’re traveling through, this is the perfect place to visit for a pint. And when you do visit, you’ll pay among the lowest beer excise taxes in the country.
26. New Mexico
The craft beer scene in New Mexico is expanding, putting it at 26th on our list. On a per capita basis, the state’s 100 craft breweries rank near the top of the heap in 11th place. On the other hand, excise taxes sit a tier below the most punitive states.
This state isn’t particularly known for its craft beer offerings. But several brews, like 3 Floyds’ Marshmallow Handjee and Dark Lord Chemtrailmix, have long created buzz nationally. When it comes to the data, Indiana, as this rank would indicate, sits near the middle of the pack on nearly all counts. Excise taxes are among the lowest in the country.
Iowa boasts some of the most loved beers on Beer Advocate — Toppling Goliath’s King Sue, Assassin, and Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout are all fan favorites. King Sue also earns a spot on VinePair’s list of the Most Important IPAs. Like Indiana, Iowa sits near the average on all counts when it comes to the data.
Richmond is becoming a major craft beer city and is able to go toe to toe with some of the U.S.A.’s other great beer destinations. This growth caused us to name it a top beer travel destination in 2018, and the notoriety is only continuing to build. As a whole, the state’s 314 craft breweries come in at 17th on a per capita basis, though craft barrels produced are a more modest 30th place per capita.
22. New Hampshire
Neighboring our No. 1 pick, New Hampshire offers a more pared-down selection of craft brewery options for the state’s million residents over 21. Often overlooked for its neighbors like Vermont and Maine, the Granite State’s 98 craft breweries are good for an admirable 8th place on a per capita basis.
Its 119 craft breweries, roughly 325,000-barrels of craft beer produced, and $0.23 tax rate give this state a middle-of-the-road ranking. The state is also home to Athletic Brewing, the highly regarded non-alcoholic beer producer that has quickly grown into the 27th largest craft brewery in the country.
Boise is quickly gaining attention for its local craft brews. In fact, like Richmond, Va., it was among VinePair’s best beer destinations back in 2018. At the same time, the state’s employment in the craft beer industry has skyrocketed. Also good news for your wallet: It ranks 13th lowest nationwide in beer excise taxes, at 15 cents on the dollar.
19. North Carolina
At 364 breweries statewide, the North Carolina craft beer industry is booming. Those 364 craft breweries are good for 18th best on a per capita basis. While some of the mid-2010s growth and accolades may have cooled off, the state, and especially Asheville, is still a major beer destination in the Southeast, a region that otherwise lags the country when it comes to craft brewing.
With a vibrant craft brewing scene, Minnesota earns its top 20 ranking with above average production numbers all around, though taxes are on the high side. BlackStack Brewing in St. Paul was deemed one of the most underrated breweries in the Midwest.
If you’re on the East Coast, you can’t miss stopping in Delaware for a craft beer or two. In fact, the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery has been called “a rite of passage” for beer lovers for quite a long time, even if it’s now part of the Boston Beer craft empire. The small state’s 35 craft breweries (46th overall) punch well above their weight, ranking 20th on a per capita basis, and second in terms of the barrels of beer they produce, though much of that production is definitely coming from Dogfish Head, which supplied a thirsty nation with 60 and 90 Minute IPA for decades — and more recently SeaQuench Ale.
Our northernmost state is known for its chilly climate, and a craft beer scene that’s steadily heating up. (If you’ve got some time, check out a craft brewery train tour while you’re in town.) Just watch out for that excise tax, which clocks in second highest in the country at $1.07. In terms of both craft breweries per capita and barrels produced, Alaska ranks near the top in 5th place.
The Buckeye State boasts 365 craft breweries — enough to visit one for each day of the year, but those 365 craft breweries result in a modest 24th place on a per capita basis. Thanks in part to beloved regional craft breweries Great Lakes and Rhinegeist, total craft barrels produced are among the highest in the country, though just outside the top 10 on a per capita basis.
14. New York
In the past decade, craft beer has come a long way in the Empire State. The state is now home to highly regarded breweries and taprooms on Untappd, including Other Half and Equilibrium, with more popping up every day. On a per capita basis, the state’s 485 craft breweries only come in at 30th place, but the barrels produced are in the top five overall. Brooklyn Brewery, still the 13th largest craft brewery in the country, has a large export program (half of its production volume back in 2019), helping to introduce millions to American craft beer abroad.
The Show Me State is the original home of mega-brewer Anheuser-Busch, but it isn’t afraid to show its craft beer side, too. Its 157 craft breweries and the beer they produce may be near the middle of the pack on a per capita basis, but they receive quite a bit of love on Untappd and Beer Advocate. Side Project Brewing’s presence on those sites, along with Perennial Artisan Ales and regional heavyweights like Schlafly and Boulevard, prove that the state has serious craft chops. And at just $.06 per gallon, excise taxes are among the very lowest in the country.
While Washington State might be known for its wine production, craft beer from the state is iconic, too. The Coffee Cinnamon B-Bomb at Fremont Brewing in Seattle graces top beer lists, and its 437 craft breweries are good for a top 10 rank overall and on a per capita basis. Although it wasn’t a ranking factor, there’s a good chance your favorite IPA’s hops were grown in Washington, too, as the state leads the country by a country mile when it comes to hop acreage.
Wyoming only has 45 craft breweries statewide; what it lacks in quantity, however, this state makes up for in quality. Those 45 craft breweries rank in the top five on a per capita basis, and their production nearly cracks the top 10 per capita. The cherry on top? Beer enthusiasts also enjoy the lowest tax rate in the country at a mere 2 cents on the dollar.
Many in Michigan would claim Grand Rapids is the best city in the country for craft beer. And while there are definitely other competitors, the city and state have a very good showing when it comes to iconic craft breweries. Bell’s, which is located in Kalamazoo, produces Two Hearted Ale, which many people believe is the best IPA in America. On a by-the-numbers basis, Michigan earns its place near the top of our ranking: The state’s 408 craft breweries are good for top 10 overall, and top 20 per capita. In terms of craft barrels produced, the picture is the same — top 10 overall, and top 20 per capita. The state was similarly in the top 10 overall when it came to love on Beer Advocate, Untappd, and, of course, VinePair.
For a state with seven of the 10 “drunkest” cities in the country, it’s no wonder that Wisconsin is so high on the list. Home to 230 craft breweries, including cult favorite New Glarus, the state sits in the top 20 overall and per capita on all counts. Taxes on beer are also among the lowest in the country.
Montana ranks third in craft breweries by capita, and the state’s overall scene has been growing in clout for years. While Montana only has around 800,000 residents over the age of 21, its 105 craft breweries offer beer drinkers quite a few options, and their output is good for 28th overall, and seventh best on a per capita basis.
The northernmost state on the East Coast, home to culinary and drinking mecca Portland, is one of the best for beer lovers. 143 craft breweries — spread across the state’s 35,000 square miles — is good for second best on a per capita basis. Craft barrels produced are top 20 overall, and third per capita. It’s hard to name just a handful of standouts, but we’ll do our best. Maine Beer Co. and Bissel Brothers both have some of the most beloved beers on Beer Advocate. And you can’t talk about Maine without mentioning Allagash, one of the best and most important breweries in the country.
When it comes to highly appreciated craft beer, this state takes the cake. Hazy IPA dominates craft brewing in 2022, and you can’t talk about everyone’s favorite juicy brew without talking about Massachusetts. So it’s no surprise that 19 craft brews from Massachusetts sit on the top 100 list at Beer Advocate. Tree House Brewing Company and Trillium Brewing Company are among the best-ranked breweries in the country on Untappd. The state’s 194 craft breweries are good for 17th overall, though a bit lower on a per capita basis.
Pennsylvania boasts a whopping 3,244,840 barrels of craft beer produced each year. One barrel equals 3,968 fluid ounces, and if our math’s correct, that’s enough for 1,072,960,426 rounds (if we’re counting 12-ounce pours). The state’s 486 craft breweries are second only to California. About those craft barrels: They’re good for second overall, and fourth per capita. The state is home to Yuengling, the oldest operating brewery in the country, and the largest craft brewery. The state’s beers may not place near the very top of critical lists, but you cannot ignore the presence of stalwarts like Troegs and Victory.
The Golden State loves a good brew — you can tell by the number of beloved craft beers from the state. In terms of Beer Advocate, the state places 17 beers in the top 100, including icons like Pliny the Elder (and Younger). The state also places the most beers on our 25 Most Important IPA’s list. These are beers that have helped define what craft beer is over the last quarter century: Firestone Walker Mind Haze IPA, Stone Brewing Ruination 2.0, Lagunitas IPA, Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing. In terms of production, it’s no surprise that the nation’s largest state ranks No. 1 in craft breweries (931) and craft barrels produced (3,499,182). On a per capita basis that’s good for 31st in terms of craft breweries, and 15th in terms of volume. And while it’s no longer independent, the state is home to Anchor, which is where America’s craft beer story starts.
This West Coast state is the perfect destination for any beer lover; its 310 craft breweries offer endless opportunities to sample the local brew scene. While you’re there, check out highly rated craft beers such as de Garde Brewing’s Nectarine Premiere, The Broken Truck, and The Peach. Brujos Brewing earns love on Untappd, but the state is also home to countless other beloved breweries, including pFriem Family Brewers and Great Notion, and craft stalwarts Deschutes and Rogue. No matter how you slice the data, Oregon is near the top: craft breweries (12th overall and seventh per capita) and craft barrels (ninth overall and sixth per capita). Excise taxes on beer are also among the lowest in the country.
Colorado offers lots of opportunities to explore local craft beer for its over 4 million residents of drinking age. First, let’s look at the data: With an excise tax that’s nearly the lowest in the country at 8 cents on the dollar, you won’t feel too bad about ordering a second round. The state’s 428 craft breweries are good for fifth overall and sixth per capita. The same goes for its 946,370 craft barrels. The state places three entries on VinePair’s 25 Most Important IPAs list, with a standout mention for New Belgium Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA. The Voodoo Ranger family may not be critical darlings, but they are one of the most successful craft brands over the last half-decade, bringing the hazy IPA into the homes of Americans from coast to coast. WeldWerks Brewing Co.’s Medianoche-Coconut also earns a spot in the Beer Advocate top 100. Colorado is central to the story of America’s craft brewing revival, which is why the state hosts the Great American Beer Festival.
It might not surprise you to find that the Green Mountain State sits in the No. 1 spot. With top-rated breweries like The Alchemist, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, and Fiddlehead Brewing Co., among others, and some of the country’s most acclaimed beers, Vermont is a true beer lover’s paradise. But, Vermont is more than a critical darling. It’s a state that is practically overflowing with beer. Its 74 craft breweries (34th overall) are good for first place on a per capita basis. As you’d expect, they punch above their weight on volume. Good for first place in terms of craft barrels produced per capita, the state’s total production rank is 18th overall. That may not sound that impressive, but consider that Vermont is the second least populated state, home to more people than only Wyoming.