This Is the Best State for Drinking Craft Beer in 2021

Let's just say we're definitely not planning a beer run to Mississippi

A man drinking two pints of beer. The craft beer industry showed a surprising resilience in 2020, with a net gain of craft breweries.
The craft beer industry showed a surprising resilience in 2020, with a net gain of craft breweries.
Julianna Arjes / Unsplash

No surprise, but craft breweries hit a rough patch in 2020.

As we noted in early April, the Brewers Association (BA) reported that small and independent brewers collectively produced 23.1 million barrels of beer and realized a 9% decline in 2020. Craft-beer market share dipped to 12.3% from 13.6% in 2019. And direct jobs in craft breweries saw a 14% decrease from 2019.

But the good news was that the number of craft breweries in the U.S. was actually up in 2020, with a small but meaningful net gain of 373 small and independent breweries. That puts the total number of craft breweries in the United States at 8,764 (in order of popularity, the sub-categories here are taproom, brewpub, micro and regional).

And now, in 2021, we’re in the mood for travel and especially in the mood to drink … but we’d prefer to do both domestically. Thankfully, VinePair — utilizing statistics from the BA — has broken down the state of craft brewing by state and per capita with some very handy maps.

Some takeaways from their rankings:

  • California unsurprisingly has the most craft breweries (958)
  • On a per capita ranking, however, California is rather middling. Instead, head to Vermont, which sees 15.4 craft breweries per 100,000 adults.
  • You’ll want to avoid Mississippi if you like good beer, as the southern state only has 12 craft breweries, or 0.6 per capita (both national lows)
  • And that state actually ranks 51st, as the BA includes the District of Columbia … which ranks 33rd in breweries per capita

Going back to Mississippi: The state may be last because it had a slow start. It was only in 2017 when the state government allowed craft breweries to sell their beer on-site. As well, “Mississippi has historically been very macro focused,” as Matthew McLaughlin, an attorney who’s worked with hundreds of small breweries, told Mississippi Today back in 2019. “Ninety-nine percent of all the beer consumed here was made outside of the state and was made by somebody that would fall within that macro-production category.”


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