Is Santa Rosa, California Really America’s Craft-Beer Capital?

Don't tell Chicago.

April 19, 2017 9:00 am

If craft beer’s next 10 years are anything like its last, we’re all gonna be literally surrounded by microbreweries. But you know this. The seemingly neverending brewery boom in America has been well documented.

As for where in the U.S. you can find the best microbreweries, though? That’s a entirely different story — and the topic of this very cool visual essay from The Pudding. Using a combination of data from RateBeer and the number of breweries in proximity to every major beer city in America, Pudding Editor Russell Goldenberg built a fairly comprehensive map of which regions have the highest concentration of quality suds.

The data crowns Santa Rosa, California, as the craft beer mecca of the country, which makes a lot of sense with heavyweights like Russian River, St. Florian’s and Cooperage all in the vicinity. The list also includes cities like San Diego (AleSmith Brewing, Green Flash Brewing Co.) and Denver (Crooked Stave, Comrade Brewing Company), with your correspondent’s humble hometown of Chicago ranking at number seven.

Perhaps the coolest part of the map is the ability to play around with the data points. Adjusting the map to display cities with at least five breweries that make good “heavy” beers gives you a different outcome than, say, looking at cities with at least 10 breweries that favor “light” beers.

California cities are a ubiquitous fixture on the list no matter how you spin it — no surprise, considering they belong to the most densely populated state in the union. But they’re way down the list of most microbreweries per capita: that title belongs to Vermont.

Where does your city stack up? Check out the map and see for yourself.


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