A Visual Analysis of the Number of Permitted Breweries in the United States by State

As the Fourth of July holiday weekend approaches, BBQs and beer will abound across the US and craft beers will make up a larger proportion of those beers consumed over the holiday weekend. In the past couple of years the number of breweries, particularly craft breweries, has skyrocketed in the US, surpassing 2,800 in 2013 according to the Brewer’s Association.

Bloomberg recently collected data from the Beer Institute and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, tallying the number of existing brewery permits by state in 2013.

[Hover your mouse over individual states in the interactive maps below to see the data for each state.]

In terms of absolute numbers of breweries in the US, California tops the list at an astounding 508 breweries in 2013, up from 363 in 2012. This heady lead is even more evident when visualized as a bar graph.
US-Brewery-Permits-2013-01

The year-to-year growth in the number of breweries from 2012 to 2013 is equally impressive, particularly among the top 10.

Breweries-Slope-Graph-01

But some astute observers may point out that California is a very large state, both in terms of geographic area and population. So how does California measure up in breweries per 100,000 people and or per 1,000 square miles?

US Breweries per 100,000 People

When each state’s population is factored in, Vermont rises to to the top with the most breweries per 100,000 people in the US.

Breweries-per-100k-01

US Breweries per 1,000 Square Miles

When each state’s area is factored in, the small states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island stand out with the most permitted breweries per 1,000 square miles.

Breweries-per-sq-mile-01

Which criteria is the best indicator of the best state for craft beer lovers? If you’re like most craft beer afficionados, a wide selection of craft beers to try is key, so in that respect California deserves to keep its crown as the reigning king of craft beer breweries in the US.