Which State Has the Most Breweries?

Which state has the most breweries really depends on the parameters you set. After all, are we talking about the most breweries per capita? Or the most breweries total? Let’s talk about it.

The History of Breweries in the United States

Most people know that breweries began in pretty much the same way around the world. Almost all breweries were once small, household affairs, wherein the cook or the person in charge of domestic duties, usually the woman, would make small batches of beer for the family to drink with meals.

This beer served as the main source of hydration, and sometimes the main source of nutrition, for every member of the family. Beer in the early days typically had an ABV of around 1% or 2%.

Then, as travel expanded and more people began hitting the road to visit nearby towns or venture to far off places, people opened rooms in their homes for rent and served food and beer to passerby. Soon, pubs rose up across the countryside, with an inn attached, for weary travelers to rest for a night and have a cold beer and a hot meal.

This evolution of the brewery occurred in the new world in the same way it did in the old world.

The earliest breweries in the United States date back to the 1500s, shortly after the arrival of the first settlers.

New York, one of the first colonies in the United States, saw the first commercial brewery, the Dutch West India Company, in 1632, and others popped up across the colonies after that, including another in New York, in Poughkeepsie to be exact, founded by James Vassar. His son, Matthew Vassar would go on to found the prestigious Vassar College using endowments from the brewery he inherited from his father.

Then, the Industrial Revolution changed everything, bringing the 1800s into the future with its assembly lines, lightbulbs, electricity, and mass production.

By the 1900s, brewing in America was big business; Pabst Brewing in Milwaukee and Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis were easily the country’s two largest national brewing companies.

Companies like Coors and Miller were not far behind.

Which State Has the Most Breweries

So, where do we stand today?

With all the breweries in the country today, totaling 9,709, from small craft breweries to large scale productions, it is Vermont that has the most breweries per capita. The tiny state in the northeast had more than 15 breweries for every 100,000 residents. That’s one brewery for every 6,000 people!

Another tiny state, Rhode Island, has the most breweries per square mile. No surprises there. The state is only 1,214 square miles (about half the area of Delaware), and it has 40 breweries. That’s one brewery every 40 miles.

But, of course, no one will be shocked to learn that California tops the list with the most breweries total at more than 1,100 craft breweries stretching across its length.

Interestingly enough, however, given this information, it is not a city in California that has the most breweries but Chicago, all the way in Illinois, that takes that title, with a total of 101 in its metropolitan area.

Still, if you’re looking for the biggest bang for your buck, stick to the west coast of the United States as just behind California in terms of the number of breweries per state are Oregon and Washington, the two other states on the Pacific Ocean.

So, if you’re hoping to take a tour of breweries in the United States, you might just want to start at the far southern end of California and make your way up the coast, stopping and sipping along the way.

You will eventually find your way into Oregon and Washington, and then all the way up to Canada, where word has it you’ll also encounter delicious beer.

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  1. https://www.statista.com/statistics/319978/craft-beer-breweries-per-capita-in-the-us-by-state/
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