Counties with Most Breweries per Resident and Locations
This interactive map shows the most breweries per resident in each county. For number of breweries and breweries per resident hover over a county. County values will be in gray. For name, type, location, and brewery website, hover over a blue dot. Location information is brown. Zoom out to see Alaska and Hawaii. Zoom in to see small counties and locations in detail.
Craft Breweries Everywhere!
As things are progressing, more and more Americans want craft beer, and more and more Breweries are built in the US. The interest is so high, that places considered suburbs are also getting them! According to Brewers Association: "In 1980, there were 42 brewing companies with fewer than 100 brewing locations. Now there are more than 6,300 breweries in the U.S., 99 percent of which are small and independent". There are several main reasons why breweries are rising according to The Atlantic: Consumers want new exotic flavors, small craft brewers can sell to consumers, and "rules are designed to check the political and economic power of the largest alcohol companies while creating ample space for upstarts". This has resulted in a brewery boom and variety, we can all enjoy!
So how common are breweries? Where are most breweries located? Are there areas where breweries are more likely to be found? Where is the closest brewery? Are there different kinds of breweries in your area?
It was expected that breweries would show up massively in the East and West Coast. Major cities would probably be overwhelmed with them. Once the breweries from Open Brewery DB, were mapped, all these expectations were correct. Cities were looked overcrowded with Breweries. In fact they were almost everywhere. What really mattered was not just their locations, but how many breweries per capita were present in each county. This resulted in shading counties, for the number of breweries per resident.
The highlights of this map are summarized below. For more detail check the map!
20 Counties with the Most Breweries per Capita
This list includes the counties with most breweries per resident.
- San Juan County, Colorado: 351 breweries/100K residents
- Skagway Municipality, Alaska: 192 breweries/100K residents
- Loup County, Nebraska: 186 breweries/100K residents
- Harding County, New Mexico: 183 breweries/100K residents
- Hinsdale County, Colorado: 121 breweries/100K residents
- Crook County, Oregon: 92 breweries/100K residents
- Blanco County, Texas: 90 breweries/100K residents
- Ouray County, Colorado: 86 breweries/100K residents
- Charles City County, Virginia: 85 breweries/100K residents
- Alpine County, California: 83 breweries/100K residents
- Schuyler County, New York: 77 breweries/100K residents
- Adams County, Idaho:76 breweries/100K residents
- Clear Creek County, Colorado:75 breweries/100K residents
- Benzie County, Michigan:74 breweries/100K residents
- Glasscock County, Texas: 70 breweries/100K residents
- Jefferson County, Montana:68 breweries/100K residents
- Granite County, Montana: 62 breweries/100K residents
- Daniels County, Montana: 55 breweries/100K residents
- Concho County, Texas: 52 breweries/100K residents
- Storey County, Nevada: 51 breweries/100K residents
The first place on the list is San Juan County, CO. According to Wikipedia nothing is outstanding about this county except that it is the highest county in the US and how walkable it is. Maybe the right combination for craft brewery bliss.
Skagway, AK is historically considered the gateway to the Gold Rush of 1898. The port of Skagway is a popular stop for cruise ships, and receives about one million tourists each year. Enough to maintain a big supply of fresh beer.
Loup County NE, Harding County NM, Hinsdale County CO, Crook County OR, as many of the following on the list stand out as small, low populated areas. Many of these counties probably have one brewery, but with a small population, they end up with a high per capita brewery value.
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20 Counties with the Most Breweries
These are the counties with the most breweries over all, no population included.
- San Diego County, California: 167
- Los Angeles County, California: 141
- King County, Washington: 131
- Cook County, Illinois: 112
- Multnomah County, Oregon: 84
- Boulder County, Colorado: 69
- Denver County, Colorado: 68
- Maricopa County, Arizona: 67
- Travis County, Texas: 62
- Orange County, California: 61
- Hennepin County, Minnesota: 53
- Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: 51
- Buncombe County, North Carolina: 49
- Cuyahoga County, Ohio: 47
- Adams County, Colorado: 45
- Alameda County, California: 44
- Larimer County, Colorado: 43
- Riverside County, California: 42
- Harris County, Texas: 41
- Arapahoe County, Colorado: 40
This list was just to fulfill your curiosity on which areas had the most breweries. As expected large populated metros have a high number of breweries.
Not All Breweries are Created Equal
Breweries contributed with $55.7 billion to the U.S. economy in 2014 and craft brewers were the cause of a comeback of small cities and neighborhoods according to Curbed. Besides "nearly 59K people worked in breweries across the United States in 2016" U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
To make this map, a US census database on Breweries was initially used. It was quite an interesting set, as it had information on brewery size, revenue, and number of employees. Unfortunately the data seemed quite short and incomplete compared with Open Brewery DB. What Open Brewery DB file did include, was the type of brewery. This information appears once you hover over each brewery location. Why differentiate between breweries? Well, each one has a different size, number of employees, and revenue.
- Micro: A microbrewery is any facility that produces fewer than 15K barrels of beer annually, with 75% or more of its beer served off-site. Unofficially, it’s the word most people use when they’re referring to a business that brews craft beer. Since they are much smaller than a regular brewery, microbreweries have enough time to “craft” different flavors of beer. This dataset has 4016 Micro Breweries.
- Brewpub: By law, an establishment can only be called a brewpub if it sells 25% or more of its beer on-site. This map has 2357 Brewpubs.
- Regional: A regional brewery (or a regional craft brewery) is defined as a beer producer that produces 15K – 6KK barrels per year. This graph has 215 regional breweries.
- Large: Any brewery producing more than six million barrels (think Budweiser) is considered a “large” brewery. This list has 76 Large Breweries.
- Contract: When a brewer has a recipe or excessive volume they need help with, they may hire a different brewery to craft their beer. Under this arrangement, the contract brewery handles all of the marketing and sales for the original recipe but leaves the brewing and packaging to the producer. This map has 207 Contract Breweries.
- Proprietor: A licensed tenant brewery that physically takes possession of a shared brewery while brewing. In contrast to contract brewers, alternating proprietors are the brewery of record for all of the obligations of a licensed brewery, including record keeping, tax payments, and label or formula approval. This dataset has 70 Proprietors.
If you are thinking about starting to brew at home or learning more about the brewing process I recommend the follwoing products found on Amazon.
- How To Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Great Beer Every Time, is a great book to guide you into making your first beer. The book covers ingredients, and different recipes, to equipment.
- Northern Brewer - Brew. Share. Enjoy. HomeBrewing Starter Set, Equipment and Recipe for 5 Gallon Batches (Hank's Hefeweizen): This is a starter set for home brewing. If you are done reading and ready to start enjoying the fruit of your own labor.
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- The Brewers Association's Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery: Is for those interested in the business of breweing and want to read beyond the process and more about the marketing, industry, and community building.
- Mastering Brewing Science: Quality and Production: This detailed book will explain a bit more about the science behind brewing. It shows more about the process, methods, and production.
Resources for Brewery Map
To create this map Population Data in 2017 from US Census Bureau was used. As mentioned before the brewery information came from Open Brewery DB. The information is 1 to 2 years old. To convert some addresses to coordinates Google Sheets Add-ons Geocode by Awesome Tables was used. To convert the zip codes of each location to counties Kaggle was used. The Shapefiles for this map were downloaded from Natural Earth.
Made by Luz K. Molina with D3.js.
Inspiration to Create a Breweries per Capita Map
The idea for this map came from looking at a European map of Top Beer Drinkers. I wanted to find something similar for the US, but I was more interested in Craft Beer, and to be precise, Breweries. My personal experience is limited to a couple of them, even though I know they are becoming more popular each day. My first visit happened as a day out with some friends. We ended by chance at Abbita Brewing Company in Covington, LA. It was a fun and informative experience. Not long after, I visited McGuire's Irish Pub in Destin. I went for their food and ambiance, but as soon as I arrived I got to see the other reason they are sought after. They have the brewery equipment set up so passersby can see it from outside. This gave me the impression that brewers are very proud of their trade, and love showing their equipment.
A couple of years ago, I had the amazing opportunity of visiting my favorite brewery. I spent half a day at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. It was a place that had a bit of everything. It felt like a mall at first, almost geared to attract American tourists. Nevertheless, it had different spaces to show the science of beer making, the history of Guinness brewery, tasting rooms, live music, and Irish Dancers! I went with my in laws and my 5 year old son. It was fun for all ages! While in Dublin, I was a bit lost on what to do, or where to go, and Guinness was not my choice. I am glad we did it. Next time I travel to a new city, I will definitely look into experiencing a brewery.
Out of these three visits, the only Brewery I had planned to visit was Guinness. The other two were fortuitous encounters. These are definitely cool places to find yourself no matter what.