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View Poll Results: What is the best all around region for Craft beer in The United States?
Greak Lakes:IL, IN, MI, OH, WI 62 22.55%
Mid-AtlanticE, MD, NJ, NY, PA, D.C. 26 9.45%
Midwest: IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD 16 5.82%
Mountain: CO, ID, MT, NV, UT, WY 29 10.55%
New England: CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT 14 5.09%
Northwest: AK, OR, WA 65 23.64%
Pacific: CA, HI 27 9.82%
South: AL, AR, KY, LA, MS, TN 5 1.82%
South-Atlantic: FL, GA, NC, SC, VA, WV 19 6.91%
Southwest: AZ, NM, OK, TX 12 4.36%
Voters: 275. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-14-2014, 09:39 AM
2,142 posts, read 2,646,447 times
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This is tough but I'd go:

PNW (Portland, Seattle, Bend) tied with Great Lakes (Chicago, Grand Rapids/SW Michigan, Wisconsin)

Then, closely followed by Pacific (California)

Then, lower down, I'd put New England. NE has nothing to compare to Colorado, but based on larger size, I'd give NE a nudge above Mountain (Denver, Boulder)
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Old 05-14-2014, 11:19 AM
Location: The Pacific Northwest
6,015 posts, read 6,321,906 times
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So I have the day off and beer is one of my favorite topics so I'd figure I'd crunch some numbers from beeradvocate.com. It's not gospel by any means, and there are a lot of good breweries out there that I think should have some ranked beers but aren't on the list. But overall I've found it to be the most objective list overall as it measures aggregate ratings.

Currently, the most highly rated beer is Heady Topper from the Alchemist Brewery in Vermont.

Of the top 10 most highly ranked beers, 5 were from the Great Lakes Region, 2 from California, 2 from New England, and 1 from Europe.

Of the Top 50, 13 were from the Great Lakes, 11 were from California, 8 were from Europe, 7 were from the Midwest, 7 were from New England, 2 were from the south-Atlantic, and 1 each from the Northwest and Southwest.

Of the Top 250, 62 were from California, 45 were from the Great Lakes, 41 were from Europe, 34 were from New England, 17 were from the Northwest, 15 were from the South Atlantic, 13 were from the Midwest, 9 were from the Intermountain West, 7 were from the Mid Atlantic, 6 from the Southwest, and 1 was from Canada.

Now that being said, some breweries had multiple beers make the list. To measure the variety of breweries making highly-ranked craft beers from each region, I broke it down by brewery and the number of beers it has ranked.

California (18 Breweries)
The Bruery (12)
Russian River (9)
Alpine (8)
Stone (7)
Firestone Walker (5)
Alesmith (5)
The Lost Abbey (3)
North Coast (2)
Ballast Point (2)
Kern River (1)
Port Brewing (1)
FiftyFifty (1)
Lagunitas (1)
Green Flash (1)
Societe (1)
Bootlegger’s (1)
Sante Adairius (1)
Almanac (1)

Great Lakes (15 Breweries)
Three Floyds (IN) (7)
Founders (MI) (6)
Goose Island (IL) (5)
New Glarus (WI) (5)
Kuhnhenn (MI) (4)
Bell’s (MI) (3)
Great Lakes Br. Co. (OH) (3)
Dark Horse (MI) (2)
Fat Heads (OH) (2)
Central Waters (WI) (2)
Pipeworks (IL) (2)
Columbus Br. Co. (OH) (1)
Thirsty Dog (OH) (1)
Hoppin’ Frog (OH) (1)
The Brew Kettle (OH) (1)

New England (11 Breweries)
Hill Farmstead (VT) (18)
Jack’s Abby (MA) (3)
The Alchemist (VT) (2)
Lawson’s Finest Liquids (VT) (2)
New England Br. Co. (CT) (2)
Allagash (ME) (2)
Boston Beer Co. (MA) (1)
Tree House (MA) (1)
Maine Beer Co. (ME) (1)
Otter Creek (VT) (1)
Trillium (MA) (1)

Pacific Northwest (9 Breweries)
Cascade (OR) (4)
Hair of the Dog (OR) (3)
Boneyard (OR) (3)
Midnight Sun (AK) (2)
Pelican Pub (OR) (1)
Logsdon Farmhouse (OR) (1)
Fremont (WA) (1)
Anchorage (AK) (1)
Deschutes (OR) (1)

South-Atlantic (8 Breweries)
Cigar City (FL) (7)
Funky Buddha (FL) (2)
Westbrook (SC) (1)
Peg’s Cantina (FL) (1)
Olde Hickory (NC) (1)
Foothills (NC) (1)
Terrapin (GA) (1)
Westbrook (SC) (1)

Intermountain West (7 Breweries)
Avery (CO) (2)
Great Divide (CO) (2)
Oskar Blues (CO) (1)
Epic (UT) (1)
Odell (CO) (1)
New Belgium (CO) (1)
Dry Dock (CO) (1)

Mid Atlantic (7 Breweries)
Voodoo (PA) (1)
Troegs (PA) (1)
DC Brau (DC) (1)
Dogfish Head (DE) (1)
Captain Lawrence (NY) (1)
Victory (PA) (1)
Southern Tier (NY) (1)

Midwest (5 Breweries)
Toppling Goliath (IA) (5)
Surly (MN) (4)
Perennial Artisan (MO) (2)
Minneapolis Town Hall (MN) (1)
Boulevard (MO) (1)

Southwest (4 Breweries)
Prairie Artisan Ales (OK) (3)
Jester King (TX) (1)
Live Oak (TX) (1)
La Cumbre (NM) (1)

Belgium (16 Breweries)
Brasserie Cantillon (11)
Browerjj Drie Fonteinen (4)
De Struise (3)
Brouwerjj Westvleteren (2)
Brasserie de Rochefort (2)
Brouwerjj Rodenbach (2)
Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel (1)
Brouwerjj Het Anker (1)
Gueuzerie Tilquin (1)
Brouwerjj Bockor (1)
Brouwerjj Girardin (1)
Brouwerjj Westmalle (1)
Bieres de Chimay (1)
Brouwerjj Bosteels (1)
Brasserie Fantome (1)
Brouwerjj St. Bernadus (1)

Other Europe (6 Breweries)
Evil Twin (Denmark) (2)
Bayerische Staatsbrauerei (Germany) (1)
Narke Kulturbryggeri (Sweden) (1)
Weisses Brauhaus (Germany) (1)
Privatbrauerei Franz Inselkammer (Germany) (1)
Mikkeller (Denmark) (1)

Canada (1 Brewery)
Unibroue (QC) (1)

For the US, California dominates not just in terms of ranked beers but numbers of breweries with ranked beers. Great Lakes is a solid second (first if you are talking top 10 beers) with New England at third. Vermont though makes the top of two lists - highest rated beer in the world currently, and the brewery with the highest number of ranked beers in the US - Hill Farmstead at 18.

Source: Top 250 Beers | BeerAdvocate
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Old 05-14-2014, 11:22 AM
Location: The City
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cool list and link thanks for sharing
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Old 05-14-2014, 11:31 AM
Location: Bellingham, WA
1,082 posts, read 1,058,454 times
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Wow, this is a tough one, but I'll preface my answer by saying that craft beer has evolved to the point where great beer can be produced everywhere (Cigar City in Tampa proves that point). So, it's not nearly as regional as it used to be. And the weirdness of distribution channels means that many people simply haven't tried some of the best offerings from other places. I live in CO and I simply don't have access to a lot of Upper MW or NE selection. Many people on here will vote for their own region-which I think is perfectly acceptable...

Anyway- truth be told, I'm a hophead and like "West Coast" style IPAs the best, so my all time favorite individual beers seem to come from Cali. On that list, Alesmith, Ballast Point, Green Flash, and even Lagunitas make the cut (and of course, further up the state Russian River). I just love the nectar-y type of brews. But my region of choice for beer currently is the Rocky Mountain Region, mostly because of the variety in CO and the fact that I live here. Tough to pick a favorite, but I'd say that Odell, Epic, Elevation, and Crooked Stave (sour specialist!) are among my favorites, with a very honorable mention to (literally) about a hundred others.

I think the next stage in my life journey is WA or OR, and I can't wait. Road tripped last summer and found many outstanding breweries, especially in OR (Ninkasi, Ft. George, HUB, 10 Barrel, GoodLife) and into WA (Elysian, Fremont, Old Schoolhouse). There's something just dank about the NW, so I can see the region challenging for my #1 very soon.....
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Old 05-14-2014, 12:19 PM
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Great list from Bluefox.

Agree that's it's tough to single out one region for the simple reason that American craft brewing is *so* good and is uniformly good across all regions.

I can easily say my top brewers (I'm an IPA nut) are spread across all regions, with my favorites (loosely) being:

Bells (MI)
Goose Island (IL)
Two Bros. (IL)
Revolution (IL)
Founders (MI)
Great Lakes (WI)
Three Floyds (IN)
Russian River (CA)
Breckenridge (CO)
Firestone Walker (CA)
Dogfish Head (MD)
Sierra Nevada (CA)
Lagunitas (CA.... and IL)
Stone (CA)
Rogue (OR)
Deschutes (OR)
Jolly Pumpkin (MI)
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Old 05-14-2014, 12:20 PM
35,325 posts, read 24,979,656 times
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California is so much bigger that is skews the numbers. It would be like adding up most of the East Coast.

Hill Farmstead (VT) (18)

The lines are ridiculous, I can't even anymore... it's like spending a day to get a growler.
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Old 05-14-2014, 12:34 PM
Location: The Pacific Northwest
6,015 posts, read 6,321,906 times
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Originally Posted by timberline742 View Post
California is so much bigger that is skews the numbers. It would be like adding up most of the East Coast.

Hill Farmstead (VT) (18)

The lines are ridiculous, I can't even anymore... it's like spending a day to get a growler.
Yeah, I just went based off of the regions the OP listed. If you combine the "Midwest" with the "Great Lakes" you come to 58 ranked beers, and when you combine New England with the Mid Atlantic you get 41. CA still wins at 62 but the numbers are much closer. Also this list is always changing so there's room for fluctuation.

Similarly, when it comes to ranked breweries, adding Midwest to the Great Lakes is 20, and New England to the Mid Atlantic is 17. Much more comparable to CA's 18. Just depends on how you want to slice it I guess. I wish I could find a list of total microbreweries.

Either way, there is excellent beer to be had in most areas of the country. I was surprised to see Florida having some highly ranked beers (Cigar City, Funky Buddha), as well as Oklahoma (Prairie Artisan). Definitely will be putting those on my craft beer bucket list.
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Old 05-14-2014, 12:40 PM
35,325 posts, read 24,979,656 times
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Cool. Nice work on the list.

I lived in CA and was in PDX monthly and found nothing special there myself, but as stated, I'm not a hophead.
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Old 05-14-2014, 02:28 PM
443 posts, read 719,360 times
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Originally Posted by BigLake View Post
Great list from Bluefox.

Knowing beeradvocate.com pretty well, my issue with this list is that 90% of my favorite breweries (especially in the PNW where there are literally hundreds of small batch breweries that have no intention to expand) don't have enough ratings or a high-enough profile to get a BA review, so they couldn't be included on this list.

Case in point, two breweries that I think are making some of the best beer in the country - Reuben's Brews and Northwest Peaks - don't have enough distribution or ratings to qualify for the list.

I'd also argue that with nearly 5,000 beers potentially qualifying for the list (not including the many thousands like the ones I noted which aren't widely-distributed enough to qualify), 250 is a rather narrow slice to look at.

For example: Elysian brewery in Seattle has 117 active beers with an average beer rating of 3.71. It doesn't have any beers that quite made the top 250, but it has over a dozen that are rated very highly. Meanwhile, Dark Horse Brewing has 90 active beers with an average beer rating of 3.76 (virtually identical to Elysian), but it happens to have at least 1 beer in the top 250 so it makes the list.

It seems fairly arbitrary - I'd argue that looking at the breweries as a whole and listing the number of breweries with at least 12 beers that rate over 4 (or something like that) would make way more sense than judging an entire brewery off of whether they have at least one beer that rates in the top 3% or 4%. But, even then, you'd still have the issue of the small-batch breweries not qualifying for the list.

I understand why Bluefox chose to use that data - it was by far the most easily accessible since beeradvocate.com provides a "Top 250" list, while the analysis I'm calling for would be far more complex and require a lot of time (I know I ain't doing it!). But given the major flaws noted above, I don't really think the list provides too much insight.

I will say that, having spent much time drinking in bars across the country, I've always found that the Western States - especially the Pacific Northwest - have the strongest microbrew culture. The first American Microbrewery was in Washington. You can't go anywhere in Portland or Seattle (even random dive bars) with founding an extensive selection of local microbrews. The number of breweries per capita is staggering in WA and OR. It feels like there's 1-2 new ones every month in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle alone (although, admittedly, not all are good). Most of the country's hops are grown in Washington. In general, it just feels like microbrew culture is more ingrained in the fabric of the culture here.
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Old 05-14-2014, 03:10 PM
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I voted Great Lakes. Heck, Ohio's craft beers/breweries alone would beat some of those other regions.
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