When the first colonists arrived in New England in the early 17th century, they started brewing beer — not making wine. Wine grapes didn’t grow well in the Northeast, and, anyway, the colonists came from England, where beer was the principal tipple.
Ever since then, and despite the increasing popularity of wine — and recently of hard seltzer — we’ve been a nation of beer drinkers. According to a Gallup poll released last summer, some 38% of Americans — and 55% of men — who drink alcohol prefer beer to wine or liquor. (You might be surprised to learn how much beer the average person drank in every state.)
Most of what we drink is mass-produced, primarily by brands owned by one of two companies — Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors. More than 29 million barrels of Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light — America’s best-selling beer — alone were shipped in 2018. In comparison, the total shipped by all of the country’s estimated 7,500-plus craft breweries combined amounts to 25.9 million barrels.
That may be a fraction of what the big boys sell, but it represents an impressive growth for craft beer from the mere 9.1 million barrels shipped in 2009. As Forbes put it last year, “the craft beer revolution is still going strong.” The craft brewing industry’s market share reached 13.2% in 2018, and sales grew 7% over 2017, to $27.6 billion. And craft breweries are a nationwide phenomenon: The industry group Brewers Association reports that a majority of Americans live within 10 miles of a craft brewer.
The homeowner advice and review site House Method recently crunched the numbers to determine the most popular craft breweries in America, both overall and state-by-state. (Brewers Association defines a craft brewery as one producing no more than 6 million barrels a year and is independent in the sense that no more than 25% is owned or controlled by a beverage alcohol company that is not itself a craft brewer.) A number of these are responsible for some of the 40 most delicious beers in America.
This list of the 35 most popular American breweries, as computed by House Method, shows a wide geographical spread, with representatives stretching from Oregon to Florida and from Maine to California. California, however, is the clear winner here, with 11 breweries out of 35 — and the western states hold a slight majority overall, with 19 of the 35. (One facility, the Ballast Point brewery in Daleville, Virginia — originally listed at No. 13 — is no longer operating in its original form.)
Wherever they’re located, though, and whether or not their beers are available nationally or only locally, all these breweries have earned an avid following for their first-rate brews.
To determine America’s most popular breweries, House Method considered four factors: number of Facebook followers, number of Instagram followers, Yelp score, and number of Yelp reviews.