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Sunday beer thread: 50 states by beer

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Thrillist ranks the states by beer. A few assorted thoughts:

1) This is a pretty good list, all things considered.

2) I’m not quite enough of a Washington homer to seriously dispute the top 3. (I think CO/WA is a close call, but the case for CO at #3 is pretty solid). I’ve also had enough MI beers at this point to feel at least a little confident that its placement in the top 5 is pretty much indisputable. But I can’t accept MI over WA. It’s just not conceivable. I can see how the mistake would be made–if you compare the top breweries in terms of visibility and distribution, MI might appear to be stronger (Bells and Founders a great deal better than Redhook and Pyramid). And there are some impressive and innovative breweries coming out of Michigan these days, including Jolly Pumpkin and North Coast. But my sampling of smaller regional MI beers, while quite strong, doesn’t stand up to Washington’s offerings. Here, working from memory only so I’m sure I’m forgetting something important and deserving, is a first draft at a no particular order top 10 for Washington: Old Schoolhouse; Black Raven; Maritime Pacific; Reuben’s Brews; Boundary Bay; Two Beers; Airways; Bale Breaker; Big Time; Valholl; Elysian. Of the smaller MI breweries I’ve sampled multiple beers from, only one or two (Kuhnhenn, obviously) would I seriously consider placing on this list. WA beer is much closer in quality to the big three states than a midwest or east coast beer drinker might realize because the other big three export some of their best beers widely; in Washington it’s really only Elysian, among the stronger breweries, that has any notable distributional reach. I suppose I should go be a proper beer tourist in Traverse City, Grand Rapids, and Ann Arbor before I’m express too much certainty here, but I’m not seeing it.

3) I haven’t had enough beer from WI or VT to have a strong opinion here–I’ve had virtually nothing from Wisconsin, as New Glarus is hard to find around Dayton. Vermont beers I’ve actually had haven’t really impressed (and no, I’ve never managed to get my hands on Heady Topper). But by all accounts these are states much like WA, so I’ll withhold judgment.

4) I am very skeptical about PA ahead of NY. And the growth in OH, thanks in part to some minor changes in the law, is really impressive these last few years. The greater Dayton area had zero breweries in 2010, and we’re months away from double digits now. (I’m writing from the tasting room for Warped Wing, the best but by no means the only strong contender of the new Dayton breweries.) Several new Cincinnati Breweries, in particular Rhinegeist, are excellent.  If we’re not ahead of PA today, we probably will be soon.

5) We now have an additional reason to feel sorry for esteemed LGM commenter Anderson.

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  • Scott Lemieux

    My inclination is to think that VT over NY is nuts, and their examples don’t help. Neither Long Trail or Magic Hat would crack the top 10 of NY breweries, and I doubt they’d be top 25.

    • Plus there is so much bullshit with Heady Topper and Hill Farmstead that simply would not fly on the West Coast. This isn’t to take away from those beers, which are excellent. But the level of mystique around the few really great beers of the region to me is a sign that the beer culture is just not at the level of the West. The idea that Heady Topper is so hard to get or that you have to drive way up to the farm on dirt roads is just so ridiculous. In Oregon, those beers are simply some of the better beers on tap and no more.

      Plus Magic Hat is horrible and Long Trail mediocre.

      • Warren Terra

        I’m not qualified to judge the quality of beers. But you must admit that the marketing/branding of Magic Hat is incredibly skilled, perfectly targeted at the 20something demographic.

        • If people who usually drink Long Island Iced Teas drink one beer, it’s probably a Magic Hat.

          • DonN

            See, this is where LGM having an editor would help. Oregon already came in at #1 (correctly) which should allow Erik a little life sunshine. But no, he has to go and bash both Long Island Ice Tea and Magic Hat all in one response. The wrong-osity of this is enough to make me cry and wish for heavy and impartial comment moderation.
            DN

            • Hippie.

              • DonN

                Two things, Buddy. 1) that’s dirty hippy to you 2) i swear I don’t go to burning man so there is that.

                DN

                • Do hippies go to Burning Man? I thought it was mostly venture capitalists and attorneys.

                • Based on the fact that my ex-boss now goes regularly, flying from his Greenwich mansion to the nearest private airport then renting what nominally passes as “a tent” for the rich (your basic tricked out RV), then yes, Burning Man is over.

              • Scott Lemieux

                In fairness to hippies, LIIT are more frat/sorority drinks.

                • I know, but he has been mad at me in the past for being anti-hippie. So he actually is a hippie and one admitting to enjoying Long Island Iced Tea and Magic Hat.

                • DonN

                  LIIT is the gateway drink to the pleasure of alcohol. Only people who hate hippies hate a good Long Island.

                  My officemate also reads LGM. We were having a discussion which poster is the most depressing. I threw out bspencer cause she is always pointing at this amazing misogynistic shit. No way says my rommie, dinosaurs. Nobody can be mad at dinos and cute kids. He throws out Farley. Uh, uh, too dispassionate even when discussing war machines. I throw out Erik cause he hates hippies, vodka, ketchup, cell phones on airplanes and is always posting things that make me angry about the world. Too obvious, says the roomie. Djw just doesn’t post enough, anymore, so we take him out of the discussion. Really it is Scott we finally decide. He posts the things that go like “disobeying all logic and precedent the judges decided to allow police to search your ass, plant evidence and find you guilty.”

                  There are times when I am glad to be a hippie that loves himself a LIIT.
                  DN

                • Hogan

                  No love for Campos and the prospect of thousands of young people in greasy threadbare Brooks Brothers suits standing outside courthouses and waving “Will Draft Motions for Food” signs?

                • the prospect of thousands of young people in greasy threadbare Brooks Brothers suits standing outside courthouses and waving “Will Draft Motions for Food” signs?

                  You shouldn’t make me laugh when my lips are chapped.

                  [Bonus points if you know the joke I stole that punchline from.]

                • jim, some guy in iowa

                  I find Noon to be the most depressing because he posts so goddamn infrequently but when he does it’s quite good

                • Gabriel Ratchet

                  Every bartender I’ve ever asked about this universally loathes both Long Island Iced Teas and the people who order them: they’re a pain in the ass to make as well as being the drink of choice for those who’ve either just reached legal drinking age or gotten their first fake ID and who consequently get drunk and obnoxious quickly and tip badly if at all.

            • Warren Terra

              Erik postulated that those two groups greatly overlapped, but did not in that comment (“all in one response”) actually bash either group. That was in another response.

            • djw

              he has to go and bash both Long Island Ice Tea and Magic Hat all in one response.

              That’s just being efficient.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          Toppling Goliath’s (the one iowa beer mentioned) advertising seems aimed a bit older, 30somethings. that’s about the age of the people making it, i think. ’round here usually people go for quantity (read: cheap) over quality

          • Johnnie

            The worst thing about having a big boy job is not being able to get the really limited TG beers when they hit Madison. But the health insurance is nice.

            • What? Have you never heard of slipping the owner a C-note to keep aside a six for you whenever he gets?

              Or is that just a New York thing? In order to get Crabbie’s in one supermarket, I have to buy the manager a Christmas gift for his daughter (surprise! It is cash) every year.

              He’s sells it to me at a markdown, $4.49 a bottle.

              Sadly for him, and luckily for me, a more local market has Crabbie’s now at that same price, and since no one knows its there yet, I’ve been stocking up.

              I guess his daughter will be going without this year.

          • aArendsvark

            I have a tremendous fondness for Millstream’s schild beau Viennese lager. I know they don’t distribute out of the state, but I maintain it’s a great brew if you happen to be in Iowa.

      • wjts

        Plus there is so much bullshit with Heady Topper and Hill Farmstead that simply would not fly on the West Coast…. But the level of mystique around the few really great beers of the region to me is a sign that the beer culture is just not at the level of the West.

        Pliny. The. Younger. (See also Three Floyds for another egregious case of this bullshit.)

        I like Long Trail and Otter Creek quite a bit. Magic Hat #9 is one of the worst beers I’ve ever had, though I don’t remember their Bind Faith or Circus Boy as being particularly awful.

        • Certainly true about Pliny. Difference is that it does not define California beer in the way that Hill Farmstead or Heady Topper define Vermont.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Pliny. The. Younger.

          Lord Palmerston!

          • wjts

            OK, you asked for it, Lemieux!

      • Marek

        It’s a terrible list, obviously weighted towards extreme brews instead of excellent beer. That said, Magic Hat is not horrible, it’s mediocre-to-good (and better fresh); Long Trail is good-to-excellent.

        Not that I’m trying to change your mind. De gustibus and all that. But Vermont not only punches above its weight, it outpunches just about everywhere else.

        Yes, I am currently a Vermont beer tourist. Why do you ask?

        • wjts

          I’m inclined to agree with this. There are West Coast beers that I like, but in my experience it seems like the beer culture there is excessively focused on “imperials”/doubles/triples and similar XTREME!!! beers.

          • MAJeff

            It’s not as though we’re immune to that out here, though. Weyerbacher is rather fond of the “one beer should knock you on your ass” approach.

            • wjts

              True, but the trend seems much more pronounced with West Coast breweries.

          • This is really more reputation than reality. Let’s take a look at the current tap list at Bier Stein, the best beer bar in Eugene and one of the nation’s finest, focused mostly but not entirely on Oregon beers.

            http://thebierstein.com/tap-list/

            The first few beers are your classic west coast IPAs, which people like or don’t. But then there is a big variety of much lighter and easier to drink beers that are really the rage in the Northwest this summer. There are session beers, fruit beers, lagers, etc. on this list, which is updated in real time, making it torture to me when I look at it.

            • Linnaeus

              The first few beers are your classic west coast IPAs, which people like or don’t.

              Although, with the proper introduction, you can acquire the taste. I did over the course of a few years. I appreciate them more now (when done right, of course) than I once did.

            • wjts

              I admit that my judgement is based on the beers that actually make it east of the Mississippi, which probably doesn’t give the whole picture.

              • MAJeff

                And then if you filter out those that aren’t sold in PA because of our fucked up liquor laws….

                • wjts

                  Our liquor laws are certainly fucked up, but off the top of my head I’ve seen Sierra Nevada, Green Flash, 21st Amendment, Lagunitas, and lately Deschutes pretty regularly. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Pyramid, Stone, and Rogue in several places as well.

            • Marek

              Reputation is what makes you use Heady Topper as a placeholder for Vermont, though, isn’t it?

              • No. It’s because I went up there to the place where they produced it and went through the whole deal of acquiring it and was thinking “this is very good beer and I want more of it but the mystique is absurd.” Combine that with the Hill Farmstead experience of standing in a line in the hot sun for a few tasters in a barn and I was rolling my eyes.

                • Marek

                  Well, I’m not making the trip to Hill Farmstead until I have a week to burn up here. (Too far out of the way when traveling with a non-drinker.) Sounds like I made the right decision.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Long Trail is good-to-excellent

          What are the excellent beers they produce? I’ve had many on tap, and they’ve ranged OK to poor. Great labels, admittedly.

          • Marek

            The Mostly Cloudy and the Limbo IPA are excellent.

          • Marek

            I agree with your earlier point that Long Trail and particularly Magic Hat would not make the NY top ten list. I don’t think they make the VT top ten list either.

      • Socrets

        As someone who’s had a chance to drink Heady Topper, I’d agree and would go even further that it’s overrated. Also, I’ve heard a moratorium has been imposed on the sale of Heady Topper to outsiders until the brewery expands. So even if you drive out all the way, you still won’t be able to get any if you have the wrong driver’s license.

        Regarding the list, I’m surprised that the DC region (including Northern VA because apparently no one in VA considers NOVA to be part of Virginia) with its three breweries and various brewpubs was ignored.

        • Marek

          It is overrated. It has to be. It’s very, very good but it’s not so hard to find very, very good beer in the USA now that one should have to wait on line and make a special trip for it.

      • wengler

        It’s funny that Magic Hat came up because I just went on a brewery tour there last week. Out of the 8 beers I sampled, there was only 1 that I liked(Humdinger). #9 is all right, but the rest of their beers feel like the corporate watered down versions of much better beers. Unsurprisingly, Magic is owned by a beverage conglomerate out of Costa Rica.

        • Marek

          You’re only allowed to sample four beers at the brewery. Your credibility is impeached. Beer moocher.

          I was there yesterday. I agree, #9 is alright; already knew that, didn’t need to try it. The pumpkin was pretty good for the style (not too pumpkiny), though I’m over the style. The session beer was respectable – tastes good/less filling. High 9 (IPA mixed with #9) is OK, not great but good lord it’s very drinkable – in fact, I’m drinking some now.

          Plus, eight bucks for a growler fill. For a drunk beer fan on a budget, that’s great.

          Sorry we didn’t meet up in town! I had my Weimaraner with me – perhaps you saw us on Church Street?

  • Warren Terra

    Red Hook hasn’t really been a northwest beer for about fifteen years (since around the time Ballard Bitter became Red Hook IPA). That’s when they signed a deal with Budweiser that gave them national distribution, but also meant that “Red Hook” would be brewed by Annheuser-Busch personnel in Annheuser-Busch facilities; Annheuser-Busch also became 1/3 owners of Red Hook.

  • The problem with Washington is in part that so few of the brewers distribute, even to Oregon. So they get lost in the west coast beer shuffle.

    • DocAmazing

      I realize that the linked piece was about the fifty states, but a similar problem extends to British Columbia. Some amazing beers that will never be enjoyed outside southern BC. Vancouver Island Brewing even has as its motto “The Beer Stays Here”.

      • Lee Rudolph

        Some amazing beers that will never be enjoyed outside southern BC.

        Ha! Why should I go all the way to BC when without going 50 miles from home I can find beers that will never be enjoyed anywhere?

        • CaptBackslap – YOLO Edition

          Sounds like Keystone has their new slogan.

        • MAJeff

          You’ve been to North Dakota?

          • burnt

            There is some pretty good craft beer in NoDak these days. They are not just pumpin’ crude out of the Bakken these days.

        • Iron City FTW!

      • Warren Terra

        Indeed. Though as I indicated above I’m no connoisseur I’ve enjoyed some local beers in BC, and (though I can’t say I’ve looked hard) I don’t recall seeing any BC beers in Seattle.

      • For many years my beloved Bend Brewing Company, distributed to its pub in Bend, OR and a few other Bend restaurants and nowhere else. Don’t know if that’s still the case.

  • Also New Glarus, at least the examples I’ve had are really overrated. I have not been impressed with Wisconsin in general, at least in comparison to the top states. Far below Michigan.

    • we keep the good stuff for ourselves. perhaps you got them confused with Miller.

      • I went to Madison a couple of years very excited. I went home significantly less excited.

        • For beer, it’s Meh-sconsin.

          • In fact, I might put Minnesota over Wisconsin.

            And hell, I had better beer in Kansas than anything I’ve had from Wisconsin.

          • MDrew

            As a Wisconsinite I really wish I could disagree with this, but alas all I can do is +1. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Moon Man. But Minnesota and Michigan are both under-ranked on this list, and Wisconsin is ranked (only a bit) above where it should be. That said: Furthermore beer I think justifies a pretty strong place for WI all on its own.

            Broadly, there is a lot of just straight-out misinformation in the article, so maybe it’s a grain-of-salt kind of thing.

            Also: California? Am I just not aware of the beers I drink that are brewed in Cali? Cuz I didn’t know any of them were.

    • wengler

      Yeah, Wisconsin beer is overrated. They make enough of the stuff that people think they have the upper Midwest in their thrall. The truth in variety and quality the city of Chicago has all of Wisconsin beat.

      I give New Glarus credit for their independent distribution network though. It took some balls to go against the MillerCoors machine and a great deal of risk too. As a result New Glarus isn’t sold across state lines.

      • dh

        I think part of the New Glarus appeal is its unavailability and newness to certain people. When something is withheld, its value gets inflated. This happened with New Belgium Fat Tire where I’m from. For almost a decade people talked it up as this great beer that we couldn’t get. When it finally came, there were signs all over town proclaiming they had Fat Tire. This all eventually died down and Fat Tire is just another craft beer among many. I’m getting the same feeling from New Glarus that I did from New Belgium. Once it becomes available, its appeal will quickly subside.

        • Most of what New Belgium produces is pretty good. Fat Tire is a notable exception. Possibly the nation’s most overrated beer, it is entirely too sweet.

          • dh

            I agree. To be fair, most of the people talking up Fat Tire were people who had never drank anything except domestic beer. That’s an improvement of sorts.

            • Bruce Leroy

              Fat Tire was my gateway to real beer.

              • Mike Lommler

                Same here.

          • Agree about the Fat Tire. It’s probably their biggest seller, but I don’t like it. Abby is my favorite one of theirs.

            • All their other beers are decent. But about the only one I’d pick over most other craft brews is 1554.

              • Linnaeus

                I like 1554 a lot myself.

          • MDrew

            Ice cold (I know: sacrilege) Ranger! Is in my glass RIGHT NOW.

        • DocAmazing

          When something is withheld, its value gets inflated.

          Old people like me recall that being true of Coors.

          • dh

            I remember seeing an old documentary about this. I think it was called Smokey and the Bandit.

          • Col Bat Guano

            I once drove 300 miles to buy Coors because it wasn’t sold in Washington…and the drinking age in Idaho was 19.

            • Colorado Kool-Aid by Johnny Paycheck was playing at the local burger shack the other day.

          • The owners of Sierra Nevada must have been elated yesterday. They sponsored the US Pro Cycling Challenge all week on NBC Sports Net, and had frequent commercials about their links to cycling and how they love cycling and are THE beer for cyclists (it used to be Michelob Ultra until Armstrong came clean and then Fat Tire)

            So the tour runs through Golden, Colorado yesterday…

    • Johnnie

      New Glarus is far from overrated. They pull off both ridiculously good German pilseners and Flemish sours (and brew a whole lot of other stuff well). Lakefront’s My Turn beers have been, by and large, really really good too. Beyond those two breweries… Wisconsin’s ok.

    • brewmn

      As someone who lives in IL and does a fair amount of drinking in WI, I have to say the notion that WI is a better beer state than IL is ridiculous.

  • Two Wisconsin micros not mentiond: Sprecher and Lakefront. Sprecher seems to be making most of their money from high-end sodas these days, but have a diverse array of brews available.

    Capital Brewing in Madison also has some good things going.

    • wengler

      Lakefront has the best variety and quality of Wisconsin beers I’ve had.

    • Johnnie

      Capital is absolutely horrible, so is Sprecher. O’so and Central Waters have been doing some interesting things recently but most of their better beers are hard to track down.

      • tgirsch

        Sprecher horrible? Their Hefe-Weiss is one of the best in the country, and their Black Bavarian and Pub Ale are also excellent contenders. As with so many mid-to-large craft brewers*, their flagship beer (Amber) is only “meh,” though.

        * – I’m looking at you, Harpoon IPA.

    • MDrew

      Do folks not know about Furthermore? Or does my palate just suck?

  • wjts

    Massachusetts is ranked too low, Pennsylvania is ranked too high. I will never understand the adulation for Oskar Blues.

    • Scott Lemieux

      There may be a lot of good MA brews, but multiple recent visits confirm that finding them in Boston proper is a massive pain in the ass.

      • Boston is not the greatest beer town, it is true.

        • wjts

          I haven’t spent a whole lot of time there in the last… jeez, eight or nine years, but I can’t say I’m terribly surprised.

        • Warren Terra

          in Boston, Sam Adams is considered good beer, Harpoon is considered the height of sophistication.

          Of course, Massachusetts practically mandates this be so because of their laws restricting the sale of beer almost entirely to liquor stores, which make their margin on large bottles of cheap liquor and deal with liquor wholesalers rather than small breweries. If supermarkets and delis sold bottles of beer to their middle-class clientele there would be more of a market for craft beers.

          • wjts

            In my folks’ neck of the woods, the liquor stores tend to be pretty well-stocked with a wide selection of local and craft beers. And you can buy beer at several of the local grocery stores/delis.

            • Warren Terra

              In the Boston area (Boston, Cambridge, Brookline, Somerville, etcetera) to get beer you go either to Trader Joe’s (or perhaps Whole Foods? there’s supposedly some rule about a chain supermarket being able to sell beer in up to 3 locations statewide) or to a liquor store, and the liquor stores’ offerings really are not great.

              • wjts

                I think that’s true – when I visit my parents, the Stop and Shop doesn’t sell beer but the locally-owned grocery stores do.

                • DocAmazing

                  Even if you have the radio on?

                • wjts

                  50,000 watts of power is no match for Massachusetts’ liquor laws, I’m afraid.

                • Malaclypse

                  +1 rockin’ modern neon sound.

              • Marek

                Yes, that rule is scheduled to loosen a bit but it’s been three locations for a while. Trader Joe’s on Memorial Drive (Cambridge) and on Route 9 (Framingham) sell beer. Shaw’s/Star on Mt. Auburn (Cambridge) does too. But just go to a Craft Beer Cellar or a decent package store.

              • tgirsch

                The law doesn’t just apply to supermarkets. It applies to stores of any kind. The idea is ostensibly to protect the little guys from huge chains, so you can sell alcoholic beverages from no more than n locations statewide. But by law, n is expanding over the years. It’s currently up to 5 locations, will be lifted to 7 locations in 2016, and 9 locations in 2020.

                Dumb law? Probably, but compared to the blue laws in a lot of states, I’ll take it. (See, e.g., TN, where it’s illegal for liquor stores to sell things like bottle openers or glassware, and were beer can ONLY be purchased in supermarkets and convenience stores, but NOT liquor stores.)

                • Marek

                  Thank you for the more detailed update than I was able to give. Now, we need to change the laws forbidding (1) sale of beer at farmers markets (2) dogs in outdoor restaurant areas (3) brewers from filling up growlers from other establishments. Also on my wishlist: chickens are allowed everywhere.

          • Scott Lemieux

            in Boston, Sam Adams is considered good beer, Harpoon is considered the height of sophistication.

            The second-last time I was there, a friend did detailed search trying to find the best beer bar near Beacon Hill. There was a consensus choice. The two best beers it had on tap were Guinness and Harpoon IPA.

            Last trip, we located Bukowski’s near the convention center. It would be, I dunno, the twelfth or thirteenth best beer bar in Albany/Troy but was a godsend in that context.

          • Marek

            This is ridiculous. There’s an incredible craft beer scene in Massachusetts. Harpoon is a good baseline (I’ve argued for them before, but I’ll say again that they do a wide variety of beers well.) but you can find a ton of excellent beers in and around Boston.

            Scott, you’ve got my email, and access to Google. Idle Hands, Mystic, Cambridge Brewing Company… they’re not that hard to find.

            • Let’s not overstate the case. The craft beer scene in Massachusetts, even outside of the problems with bars in Boston, is reasonably good. Incredible? Spend some time on the west coast. MA is not incredible.

              • Marek

                I respectfully disagree.

            • Scott Lemieux

              Let me be clear: I’m not saying there aren’t many good craft beers in MA. I’m saying that the beers available in typical Boston bars are abysmal for a city of the size.

              • Marek

                Ah, well, I hardly ever drink in Boston proper, so this well be the case. I would recommend the Yardhouse near Fenway for an extensive beer menu, and Hopsters at Newton Corner for a great selection of local craft beers. There are also some great spots in Allston.

    • djw

      Clown Shoes is very, very good, but I can’t think of another strong MA brewery. What else?

      Oskar Blues is fantastic. One of the better straight Pale Ales and Imperial Reds on the market.

      • I like Jack’s Abby a great deal, but it has only a small distribution outside the state.

      • wjts

        I’m quite partial to Harpoon. Wachusett is maybe my favorite. Ipswich is quite good, as are Paper City and Amherst. Cisco and Offshore are OK, perfectly drinkable but not spectacular. Mayflower was pretty disappointing.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Old Chub is awesome. The Pourhouse had it on tap recently, which needs to happen more often.

        • Alvin Alpaca

          And you can get it in NYC! I have two one in the fridge right now.

      • UncleEbeneezer

        I could (and almost do) live off Dale’s Pale Ale and Little Yellow Pils. Both are widely available at Trader Joe’s in SoCal, so they are also pretty inexpensive. Also love their Red Ale but that’s always tougher to find.

  • Any beer lover passing through the Denver airport (which I do a lot) should, if you have time, go on down to the end of the B Concourse (just before Gate B-80) where New Belgium Brewery has a bar/cafe. They have most of their usual stuff on tap, of course, but they also have a revolving offering they call “Lips of Faith.” I guess they are just trying stuff out on people. The offering varies from week to week. Some are weird, but all are very interesting.

    • Most of those Lips of Faith beers are available in bombers, throughout the West at least. Of course I can’t get New Belgium in Rhode Island.

    • MAJeff

      TERRIBLE bratwurst though.

      • Most of the menu is so-so at best. I just go for the beer.

  • tonycpsu

    I have to say that I don’t get the PA skepticism. In absolute terms, I would put NY ahead of PA based on the last decade or so of growth in quality and diversity there (and certainly no small amount of the PA big boys resting on their laurels), but the list clearly factors the size of the state and the density of craft offerings into the equation, which gives PA the nod over NY, in my obviously biased opinion.

    My top 10 (factoring in density and quality) would be OR, CA, MI, WA, PA, OH, MA, NY, CO, and VT. Next five would be WI, ME, DE, MO, and IL.

    • That’s pretty harsh on Colorado.

      • tonycpsu

        That’s likely an oversight on my part, as I haven’t been out there in 15 years, so I can only drink the stuff I can find out this way.

        Plus I forgot Avery was there. You’re right, it definitely belongs higher.

  • Another issue here is cost. Not so much in the store but in bars. In Oregon, I am drinking excellent beer for $3-4 a pint. Maybe $5 if it is a really good beer or slightly overpriced place. In New York or New England, the same beer would run $6-8 a pint. And of course you can’t get those good beers.

    If there’s one thing I love, it’s paying more money for inferior beer. Just love it.

    • djw

      Same issue in Ohio. Quality beer pretty much never slips below $5 a pint. Oregon would be the #1 state even without the pricing, but it’s also the cheapest place to drink good beer.

      • Scott Lemieux

        I’m still amazed that on my last trip to Portland the shitty hotel bar had a four-hour happy hour with pints of BBP for $3.

    • tonycpsu

      Yeah, this is a whole different list if we’re factoring price into the equation. PA’s shitty taxation and three-tier distribution model might knock it out of the top 10.

    • wjts

      Some places in Pittsburgh are getting positively extortionate in their prices – $6.50 for Mirror Pond and Bell’s Two-Hearted the last place I went that had good beer on tap. (My neighborhood bar still only charges $3 for Duquesne, but that’s at least a dollar too much.)

    • Buying beer in stores is often a pain in the ass in Minnesota, but the Twin Cities have numerous bars with over 50 craft brews on tap, their prices are good, and the food is generally pretty solid. I haven’t spent much time in California and none in Washington, but of everywhere else I’ve been, it’s the best place to walk in to a random bar and find good beer and good food at good prices.

      • djw

        I don’t know a damn thing about Minnesota beers, except there’s a local IPA sold in the airport that I keep forgetting I don’t like and ordering on layovers. Another state that doesn’t seem to have much distribution.

        • MAJeff

          Surly Furious?

          • I never understood the Surly zeal.

          • djw

            Nope

            • djw

              It’s Fulton’s Sweet Child of Vine. Just awful.

          • djw

            Consulting my records I see one time in that airport I did, on one layover, have a Surly Furious, which I rated as pretty good. It’s not the one I keep forgetting I hate.

    • NewishLawyer

      I am a New Yorker and love NY but NYC bars and even Brooklyn Bars can be weak on beer selection. There are some that are very good but a lot are still lagging in the craft beer selection.

      • It comes down to revenue per square foot. Those rents ain’t cheap. You’re stocking proven sellers.

        Leonora’s Way in Williamsburg tried, even had a low rent location, and then gentrification hit and they went bye-bye.

    • MDrew

      FYI to Erik Loomis in case he has plans to give Madison (my hometown) another shot: the whole Capitol Square area of Madison just ticked up from basically all beer being $4 a pint to $5. You definitely feel the sting, especially when you miss on a couple in a row. Also, the UNion Terrace is not prohibitively overpriced, where it used to be merely exorbitant (for midwest pocketbooks).

      Two drinking tips in Madison: always hit two-for-one HHs Mon-Thurs at Graze & The Old Fashioned on the Square, and always give the Old Fashioned’s beer of the month a try. Used to be $2.50/pint, but with the recent $4 -> $5 switch, now $3. Still very refreshing when it’s a worthy swill. As it is right now, with Lakefront’s Extended Play India Session Ale on tap. Although fair warning: The Old Fashioned is all-Wisconsin beers.

  • Mike Lommler

    I understand why Arizona isn’t ranked very high, but I’m disappointed that they clearly haven’t been to Flagstaff, which home to Mother Road and Wanderlust Brewing, which to my way of thinking have the best couple beers in the state. Mother Road’s Black IPA is mighty fine, and their other offerings are getting better all the time. Wanderlust’s 928 Local is a very, very good farmhouse ale.

    So far as the bigger cities go, Four Peaks is fine but nothing special, and SanTan has never impressed me. Nimbus makes a good oatmeal stout and English-style ale.

    • djw

      I remember being impressed with some Wanderlust offerings at a festival once, but I don’t seem to have a memory or record of what the beer was.

      • Mike Lommler

        Their flagship is probably the 928 Local, the Belgian-style farmhouse ale. Their vanilla stout is good but nothing amazing. Over the winter they had a bourbon barrel aged Baltic porter that was mind-blowing. They seem to have been working mostly on saisons this summer.

    • tonycpsu

      My friend in Mesa raves about Four Peaks, and is going to bring their Scottish ale out this way next month for a taste.

      However, my hatred for Arizona’s politics makes me incapable of rating them in the top half of any state ranking.

      • Richard Hershberger

        Based on how things were when I lived there twenty years ago, Flagstaff is pretty much entirely unlike the rest of the state. It is the one place in Arizona I would voluntarily live. But yes, it would be infinitely better were it part of a non-loathsome state.

        • Mike Lommler

          Flagstaff is like a little piece of southwest Colorado transplanted into north-central Arizona.

      • Mike Lommler

        That Scottish ale would be the Kilt Lifter. It’s fine, but among the other Scottish or Scotch ales I’ve had it hardly stands out.

        And yes, the state politics are nauseating. On the bright side, as the Brits might say, it’s all “on the tin”. The awful candidates don’t bother to temper their madness. Like the signs that say “Endorsed by Sheriff Joe Arpaio”, which for might as well say “I’m an Asshole!”.

  • Nick Z

    Nice to see MO come in at #11. Now that St. Louis has forsworn any obligation to Anheuser-Busch, a thousand beer flowers have bloomed here.

    In addition to Schlafly and Perennial, there’s Urban Chestnut, 4 Hands (my favorite is Divided Sky, a Rye IPA), 6th Row, and Civil Life, and a number of even smaller upstarts. Many of these breweries feature spacious and convivial tasting rooms, and several have partnered their kitchens with some wonderful local restaurants. Many are also family friendly, which comes in handy if you have a 4 month old.

    Hopefully there’s an APA, APSA, or AHA here soon, so the LGMers can try them for themselves.

    (It’s hard to overstate the allegiance this city had to AB when I arrived in 2005. One night, a rep from AB bought my friends and I several beers at a local dive bar. My sense at the time was that he was not in fact a rep for AB, but that in this town that guise was a way for a lonely person to meet people. Sad weird.)

    • Isn’t Schlafly owned by the family of Phyllis Schlafly?

      • Sorta-kinda. iirc, it’s a nephew, and he’s not on board with her reactionary insanity.

        As for MO, there’s also KC. Boulevard is a solid brewery. Maybe not as adventurous as Michigan or West Coast breweries, but they brew good beer.

        • Boulevard is excellent.

          • Comparable to Boulevard: Summit in St. Paul, especially their malty special batches.

          • MAJeff

            Agreed. Big fan of their Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale.

          • John Revolta

            And, in KC, $3 pints abound.

          • Marek

            Yes! Common ground!

      • Nick Z

        By the looks of it, both Schlafly and Boulevard are now under new ownership. Since neither of Tom Schlafly’s kids are interested in taking over the business, it was sold to local investors Sage Capital LLC.

        As DanaHoule points out, Tom is related to Phyllis but does not share her politics. (I seem to recall him sanely editorializing for one thing or another on public radio.) Phyllis is filing suit against the new owners with the USPTO over the trademark of the name Schlafly, natch.

        As for Boulevard, they’ve been sold for roughly the same reason to the Belgian brewer Duvel Moortgat.

  • DrDick

    I see that Montana came in a respectable 23 on this list and we are seeing a lot of new beers appearing the last few years. We also have more breweries per capita than anywhere else.

    • Mike Lommler

      The breweries in Missoula were how I came of age as a beer drinker. I still mourn my Kettlehouse growler that cracked when traveling between Missoula and Illinois one time.

  • I appreciate the much-needed sympathy.

    Just a year or two ago, Miss. made beer stronger than Budweiser legal in the state … so as in so many other areas, we have some catching up to do.

    That said, Southern Prohibition (in Hattiesburg) is making some good stuff. Pick one up if your distributor gives you the chance.

  • dh

    South Dakota is a well deserved 45. I don’t like the Crow Peak 11th Hour IPA, but that’s probably because I’m not a big IPA fan. The Crow Peak Pile O’ Dirt Porter is very good. I’m just glad that we are next to Minnesota. The Summit Saga IPA is good. They are wrong about having to visit the twin cities to get Summit or Lucid. Sioux Falls has both. Brau Brothers is a fairly new Minnesota brewery that has some good beer. I like their Moo Joos oatmeal milk stout. I really hate the name though.

  • wengler

    I know these lists tend to be crap, but Illinois not in the top 5 shows this guy hasn’t been paying attention to the Midwest brewing scene for the last 5 years. Here in Chicago we not only have dozens of craft breweries, but they are focusing on specific styles and perfecting them.

    • I’m not sure I’d put IL in the top five. It’s definitely not ahead of MI, CA, OR or CO, and I’m not sure it’s ahead of NY. But I’d definitely put it ahead of anyplace in New England.

      • wengler

        Just come to Chicago and you have your choice of the great locally made beer in any style you like from more than a dozen breweries. With Michigan and New York you have less than half a dozen great breweries spread out throughout the state.

        Also with the completion of Lagunitas’ huge brewery and the expansion of other local brewers’ operations, Chicago beers are starting to go national in a big way(yes I consider Lagunitas Chicago-based now since most of its beer is going to come out of that facility).

        • I don’t think you can claim Lagunitas in that way. It’s still a California beer, conceived of and centered in California.

          • wengler

            Meh, I can still go to the taproom and watch them push out thousands upon thousands of kegs. As far as I’ve seen they make the same beer in Chicago as they do in Petaluma and their labels say both places now.

          • tonycpsu

            +1. As more craft breweries open up new locations to expand their distribution, it’s not fair if states start claiming them just because they set up shop there.

            • wengler

              If you drink a 312 I wouldn’t consider that a Chicago beer anymore because it’s made in western New York.

              • tonycpsu

                Yes, and Yuengling has a Tampa brewery that, IIRC, brews 40% of their overall production. If that number were 51%, would it become a Florida beer? I think where the brewery’s roots are has a lot more to do with it than where the beers are made.

                Obviously this can get a bit weird with things like the Kona/Red Hook/Widmer setup where you get Kona brewed in NH and OR, but I think where the physical brewing happens is of minor consequence except in these rare edge cases.

                • DocAmazing

                  For that matter, Trumer Pils is a German beer with a Californian brewery. Satellite breweries aren’t new.

          • Richard Hershberger

            Flying Dog in Frederick, Md. is near my. I was surprised to see in the list a mention of their having a Colorado connection, as they are always marketed as a Maryland brew. I find buried in their “story” on their website that the founders had a brewpub in Colorado. They seem to have completely up and relocated. So I should think they count as a Maryland beer.

            I also find most of their product unremarkable. I give them credit mostly for their lager. It is is very good in its own right, even apart from the credit for not being yet another overhopped ale.

            • I hate their bottle design so much that I don’t usually buy it.

        • Dude. I don’t need to come to Chicago. I live in Chicago. And West Michigan has far more breweries of note than does Chicago.

          As for going national, yes, Goose Island is “going national.” I like Goose Island; I’ve been there for samples and burgers a few times, and i generally have some in my fridge (right now I have a couple bottles of the Marzen). But the reason they’re “going national” is they were bought by Anheuser-Busch, who is pushing GI’s least interesting beer, the 312.

          • wengler

            You can go hit up the Revolution taproom at least. A lot of the other breweries don’t have taprooms but take a tour and they are pretty liberal with tastings at places like Finch’s and Metropolitan. About 2.2 of Lagunitas’ projected 2.4 million barrel production is coming out of their new Chicago facility. They have a taproom looking out on the production floor which is pretty cool. There’s at least a dozen other places you can go too. Hell, you can go out to the suburbs and find good breweries like Two Brothers and Tighthead.

            Or you could go to western Michigan. Two Hearted Ale is one of my all time favorite beers. Just because Bell’s and Founders are more nationally known doesn’t mean that they automatically surpass the craft beer experience in Chicago.

            • Five [animals], Finch’s, Revolution, Metropolitan, Two Brothers, Halfacre, I’ve had something from all of them. They all put out some nice beers. But none have anything as good as what i’ve had from Arcadia Ales, New Holland, Dark Horse, Brewery Vivant, Founders, Bells, or Shorts.

              • tonycpsu

                Yeah, I’m predisposed to hating everything coming out of Michigan other than my wife, but The Wolverine State has kicked some serious ass in the last 10-15 years with the quality and quantity of its craft offerings.

                • Linnaeus

                  Don’t mess with the mitten.

                • grandpaboy

                  Amen to that…everyone knows about Bells and Founders, but craft brewers like Dark Horse, The Livery and Greenbush (in tiny Sawyer, no less) are well worth the trip for out-of-staters. Michigan definitely deserves a place of honor on any unbiased list of top beer states.

          • tonycpsu

            312 is definitely uninteresting, but if AB wants to put that out there as their craft option ahead of Shock Top and whatever other garbage came out of their own brewing lineage, then I’m all for it, if only for those times that I get dragged to a restaurant and cry when I realize not even Boston Lager is on the beer list.

            • Boston Lager is a godsend when you’re driving in rural Tennessee or Pennsylvania and you pull in to a Chili’s at 9:30pm on a Wednesday.

    • djw

      I’m afraid top-5 is out of the question, but they’re certainly one of the states with a credible case for #6. My last trip to Chicago I finally got out of the loop a bit and checked out some very good breweries, including REvolution and Half-Acre.

      • Mike Lommler

        Yes, I think Illinois is certainly a good candidate. Another Chicago area brewer worth checking out is Two Brothers, based out of Warrenville. Back when I still lived in Illinois my ex-girl and I, both serious beer drinkers, really enjoyed their beer.

  • Chet Manly

    Sadly, Nebraska might be rated a bit high at 44. Empyrean Brewing from Lincoln is very good, but the only other distributed beer from Nebraska I can even think of is Lucky Bucket and I wouldn’t recommend them unless you’re a fan of that weird acrid aftertaste a lot of Asian beers have.

    Omaha and Lincoln do each have several nice brew pubs though so if you ever visit and want to try local beers I’d recommend trying Lazlo’s in Lincoln or Upstream in Omaha.

    • MAJeff

      I’m in Lincoln regularly, so I agree that Empyrean makes some nice brews. I’ve had Lucky Bucket, but have no memory of actually what it tasted like, which says something itself. Thing about Laszlo’s, though…go for the beer, but don’t ask much from the kitchen.

      Above, someone mentioned Iowa beers. My folks live in the Okoboji area, which has two small breweries. The smoked red from West O is a nice little beer. I know they’ve made it to Council Bluffs, but not sure if they’ve crossed over into NE.

      • dh

        I almost bought the smoked red not five minutes ago. I opted for selection from two Minnesota breweries instead. West O must have just arrived in SD, because that was the first time I saw anything by that brewery.

      • Chet Manly

        Thanks, I live in Council Bluffs and hadn’t heard of West O. I’ll definitely have to track it down because that smoked red sounds right up my alley.

        Agreed on the food at Laszlo’s. Upstream’s food is pretty solid, but both Omaha and Lincoln have so many good restaurants you should really eat elsewhere and then hit the pubs for drinks.

        Also, it’s not beer, but while I’m recommending alcohol in Omaha I have to mention that scotch lovers shouldn’t miss the Dundee Dell if they’re in town. Their selection of single-malts is a 27 page PDF document with very little whitespace.

        • MAJeff

          While I’ve got someone from Omaha/CB….is there a nice restaurant for a special evening in Omaha. Sometimes, I like to get the bf to go out for something a bit nicer than his usual pizza. It’s easier here in PGH, and Lincoln doesn’t have many upscale options.

          • Chet Manly

            The wife and I really like The Flatiron Cafe. It’s upscale, but not at all stuffy with a really friendly staff and small enough to feel cozy. I had a huge veal chop, roasted brussels sprouts, and a warm bacon-jalapeno potato salad there last month and I’m still craving the potato salad. Their desserts are nothing special so don’t get tempted because the meal’s already about $35-40 a plate.

            I haven’t been yet, but I’ve really been wanting to check out The Grey Plume. They do the local farm-to-table New American thing and it’s supposed to be great. It’s about $10-15 a plate cheaper than the Flatiron too.

            The Boiler Room is also very nice with very good food. If you want a steakhouse, Spencer’s and 801 Chophouse are upscale and good for a romantic date, but pretty damn pricey.

            None of the other steakhouses really fit the bill for romance, but if you wanted steak I’d recommend The Drover or Sullivan’s as best steak places at a reasonable price. Do not let anyone talk you into Gorat’s or Anthony’s steakhouses. They’re grampa-type places with ridiculously overcooked sides, etc.

            • MAJeff

              Thanks!

  • wengler

    I like how Uinta got Utah up to 21st.

    • Mike Lommler

      Yeah, I’d like to call BS on that. I lived in Utah for a couple years and had my share of Uinta and would merely call them “OK”. But perhaps they’ve upped their game since I moved away in 2011.

      • I buy the Hop Notch fairly frequently, although that could be more that I have relatively few west coast IPAs available to me.

        • Mike Lommler

          Hop Notch is not bad by any means, but here in Flagstaff we certainly have much better available.

    • djw

      On balance I like Epic better, I think. Squatters makes good stouts and porters, otherwise meh.

      • burnt

        I really enjoy Epic’s seasonal beers. Good stuff, especially since I have a fondness for sage.

        Minnesota, my home state, is seen as some sort of distributor’s nirvana, so any craft brewer of a certain size or craft brewer wanting to sell beer to thirsty citizens (Dark Horse, yum, yum) is shipping beer here. We don’t get everything, of course, but we get to taste a lot of good beer here that you can’t get just anywhere.

        I keep saying to my wife, “this craft beer explosion can’t go on forever,” but I’ve been saying that for four years and since then at least 30 breweries have opened in Minnesota and a similar number in Wisconsin. It’s crazy. In the USA we are living in a golden age. It’s a positive thing in this time of endless war and the NSA collecting our sexts that Americans are seeking out good beers.

        • Yeah, I am really jealous of my MN friends, who have access to basically any west or east coast beer with a large distribution.

  • It’s a pity they’re only doing states because D.C. has some decent offerings. I’m also surprised that they didn’t mention Old Dominion for Delaware. (As the name indicates it was once a Virgina brewery but is now up near Dover.) It isn’t Dogfish Head quality, but they produce fine beers that won’t do as much damage to your wallet as a DH 4pack.

    • The Balto-DC/NOVA area has a lot of good breweries, most of them fairly new.

      • wjts

        Heavy Seas out of Baltimore is pretty good.

  • NewishLawyer

    I think a big issue is distribution.

    I was in Seattle last October and in Portland (Oregon) a few years before that and had many excellent beers but they are made in incredibly small stocks and often sold only in state and potentially to bars only. There are some places in SF that are also like that.

    Dogfish Head might be a very big brewery right now (while still being craft) but at least they distribute nationally. A lot of the appeal of the Vermont Beers is that you have to go to the place and pick them up. I feel like distribution should be one of the ranking requirements.

    In SF, I can easily find bottles from all Californian breweries but the only beer I can find from Oregon is Rogue. I can’t think of any from Washington that I see. I see more beers from Chicago in bars and stores than Washington and Oregon.

    • DocAmazing

      You should also be able to find Ninkasi around town, and it is worth finding. Likewise Deschutes and Session.

      • I am very excited about these rumors that Ninkasi is in New York. Eugene’s finest.

        • Linnaeus

          Just had the Ninkasi Lux yesterday. Very refreshing.

        • Scott Lemieux

          I’ve seen it at least twice around here now.

      • NewishLawyer

        I thought of those as soon as it became too late to edit my comment.

    • Really? I have seen, apart from Rogue, at the very least, Full Sail, BridgePort, and Deschutes in stores here in the Bay Area. Try looking in a BevMo store.

  • FlipYrWhig

    Virginia seems low.

  • Squishy

    Death & Taxes. I’m pretty sure you can get it only in California. On our last trip to San Diego, we tried some brews from Karl Strauss that were outstanding.

  • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

    Having lived in Brooklyn, NJ and Philly, some thoughts – only using breweries where I’ve had multiple offerings.
    1) NY: Ommegang rules, but Saranac’s universal “funky water” taste almost wipes it out. The major “Brooklyn” breweries (“Brooklyn,” Six Points and Coney Island) are competent but unremarkable.
    2) PA: Yards rules (Summer Love might be the most delicious new beer I’ve had in 10 years), but Troegs (same problem as Saranac) almost wipes it out. Troegs draft does not have this problem for some reason.
    3) River Horse from NJ is up there with any of the aforementioned places.

    • wjts

      Yards is pretty good, but Troegs has never really impressed me. Victory’s OK, but not great.

      • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

        You hit the nail on the head. I completely overlooked Victory, and that’s why (though Hop Devil on tap at a Phillies game is pretty wonderful). Yards is hit or miss (I don’t why they advertise Brawler so much here, it’s SO dull), but Summer Love is nectar-iffic.

    • tonycpsu

      You seem to be confusing Victory Summer Love with Yard’s Love Stout. Yards and Victory both do rule, though.

      And I have no idea what you’re talking about with Troegs. I regularly get their beers in bottles and drafts, and have never tasted anything funky in them.

      • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

        It’s not funk so much as a weird aftertaste like drinking hard water, or hotel tap water. Maybe I’m just sensitive to it.

        Happy to try Love Stout based on your rec, have to imagine it’s like the polar opposite of Summer Love.

        • tonycpsu

          I said Yards and Victory both rule. Love Stout is actually among Yards’ worst offerings, and I do not recommend it.

    • Marek

      God, I hate Yards. Not all of their offerings, but most of them. The lows are quite low.

      I do agree on Saranac, though. I had something of theirs recently which I actually thought was alright, and was surprised. (Don’t remember which.)

      Victory is excellent, as is the Troegs hefeweizen.

    • Alvin Alpaca

      I like a few Six Point offerings, but I would rate Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout as remarkable. Also recently had a brown lager from Kelso that was nice.

  • witlesschum

    I’m going to Philadelphia for a week next month. What breweries should I hit, if any?

    And another Michigan one that’s getting good is Arbor Brewing. Just had their Phat Abbot Belgian Dubbel at a place near Traverse City and it was really good. Keweenaw Brewing makes a really good Scotch Ale, but that’s kind of a homer pick.

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      I haven’t been to Yards, but it’s a great brewery in a very accessible part of Philly, so I think a tour would be well worth your while. There are a ton of great beer bars in Society Hill, Northern Liberties, Center City and Fairmount, including at least 2 (3?) that are Belgian-ophilic. Philly’s a *great* beer town.

      • tonycpsu

        Eulogy > Monk’s as far as Philly Belgian places go, IMHO.

        Seconding Yards. Also been told nice things about Nodding Head. If you rent a car, Victory’s in Downingtown, maybe 45 minutes away from Center City.

        • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

          Eulogy! Couldn’t remember the name. I live about 5 blocks from The Belgian Pub (?) in Fairmount. And apparently another (!) Belgian place opened up nearby that does frites in duck fat and other high-end pub grub, plus the arm’s length beer list, though it’s all bottles for now.

          • Steve LaBonne

            If you ever find yourself in Cleveland head to McNulty’s Biermarkt on W. 25th. Which does have draft Belgians as well as awesome frites.

            • Yeah, that’s a cool place.

              • Steve LaBonne

                As is Bar Cento next door. Excellent, reasonably priced food and you can order any of the beers.

    • Linnaeus

      Was just going to say Arbor Brewing was a good choice.

      Have a look at Griffin Claw, too. They put out a pumpkin ale that I liked and normally I don’t like fall-beer-pumpkin-overload. It’s really well-balanced.

  • Johnnie

    Man, the Mitten has so many good breweries (I’m partial to Jolly Pumpkin because I like to spend too much money on sours) but the UP has precisely one brewery that’s decent. And it’s nowhere near the lake where I go fishing every summer.

    • Linnaeus

      A friend of mine bought me a Jolly Pumpkin sour (the Bam Bière). I could drink gallons of that.

  • Steve LaBonne

    I’m pretty happy with Ohio’s showing. Been drinking quite a bit of Thirsty Dog Cerberus lately, brewed about 20 miles from my house.

    • Linnaeus

      Maybe not as good as their reputation, but I always liked Great Lakes Brewing.

      • MAJeff

        I don’t know if they’re overrated, but I managed to get some UKIP-sympathetic Philips executive to pay for my bar tab for introducing him to the Dortmunder Gold. At that moment, I didn’t hate corporate expense accounts.

        • Linnaeus

          Well done.

          • MAJeff

            I also got him to admit to UKIP politics being influenced by “a bit” of racism…that was as far as I was going to push it in an airport bar.

        • Steve LaBonne

          I’m not a lager drinker at all, but even I like Dortmunder Gold.

          • MAJeff

            That’s me with Porters and Edmund Fitzgerald.

            • Steve LaBonne

              That’s my favorite of their always-available beers.

              • djw

                It’s really outstanding; same with the Dortmunder. I’ve come around on them after initial exposure to the mediocre Burning River pale; locally at least I think their overratedness has been sufficiently exaggerated that they may now be a bit underrated.

                • Their Christmas ale is quite good. They’re another brewery that I think puts out good beer that I’d almost never choose over most beers from MI, OR, CA, CO or others here and there (like Dogfish Ale, the un-spellable brewery in upstate NY that starts with an O, Uinta’s, Boulevard and some others that I really like). But the Christmas Ale is really good.

  • People Loomising about beer makes me feel like Anthony in Bottle Rocket RE: water sports. Drink what you like, don’t feel bad about it. Harrumph!

    • People should feel bad about most things.

      Did I mention I grew up Lutheran?

    • Steve LaBonne

      I learn from these threads about good beers I might not have heard about otherwise.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      these threads always remind me of old mr flood and his friends:

      http://thedinerofcville.com/2013/02/13/up-in-the-old-hotel/

      • wjts

        I used to have a copy of McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon from the late ’30s/early ’40s. One of the previous owners was a WWII G.I. who covered the endpapers with his complaints about his racist, illiterate, and unhygienic Southern bunkmate. Unfortunately, it got lost or destroyed somewhere along the line.

        • I bought Up In the Old Hotel years ago, and have never read it. I worked at Borders back where there were only 12 stores and all the book clerks were actual readers; my favorite co-worker referred to purchases like that as “books you have in case there’s ever a nuclear holocaust.” Even though we haven’t had a nuclear holocaust–at least not as I write this, on August 25th, 2014, at 6:20am CDT–I think it’s time I finally read it.

          • Marek

            Then it’s time I re-read it.

  • Matt

    I haven’t read any of the other comments (it’s late here!) so apologies if other have mentioned this, but the list on Colorado failed to mention what’s the best beer there- anything from Odell Brewery. They self-distribute and have sell-by dates, so it’s not available too widely but it’s really the best beer out of Colorado, and that’s saying quite a bit. Anyone who can get it should pick it up, and if you’re in Fort Collins, you should certainly stop by the brewery.

    (In Idaho, Payette Brewing company is also pretty good.)

    • Mike Lommler

      Love Odell’s. Their Myrcenary Imperial IPA is brilliant. And their St. Lupulin extra pale ale is one of my favorite harbingers of summer.

  • UncleEbeneezer

    Erik, have you ever had this?? It’s a fantastic Belgian. ERB has a great selection of beers with vaguely leftist names: Manifesto, Solidarity, Revolution and Populist, among others.

  • Wait.

    Blue Point is now part of Busch?

    One of my fondest memories of the past few years has to been to complete a long bike ride on Long Island to the Blue Point brewery in Patchogue (around 75 miles) and to do the Ride to Montauk where BP, then a largely unknown local house was poured for free. It was a little treasure at the end of a tough day in the saddle (OK, not so tough: Long Island is about as flat as you can get except the ten miles or so coming out of the town of Montauk to the lighthouse)

    Busch owning them somehow cheapens the experience for me.

  • j_kay

    As media lists go, it IS perfect. Texas should be 11, IMHO, after MA, with TX-sized yummy beers here and yummy Shiner sourkrout beer avaIlable in EVERY beer tap. Seriously, new yummy breweries and distributors show every week. a commenter was right we’ll be #5 in 5 years.

    Why don’t people ever choose Rogue for their overrated and stupid favorites, or Shiner. At least they’re GOOD….

    Carter is blame for the Great American Craft Beer Freedom explosion. You can tell he was a progressive because his freedoms were real. As was his freedom of the skies and Panama and Egypt’s peace. Yes, he’s one of my favorite underrated Presidents.

    • prodigal

      Unfortunately for Texas, we have Lone Star dragging us down. I’m just glad it didn’t drop us even further down the rankings.

      • j_kay

        Yes, I forgot about Lone Star. That might take us down to 55…

    • wjts

      Shiner is brewed from horse piss that failed to meet the exacting standards of the Anheuser Busch Corporation.

      • prodigal

        No, that would be Coos that you’re thinking of.

  • UncleEbeneezer

    The article mentioned Weed. We were up there last Summer and they have a great brewery/tasting room. Spectacular view of Mt. Shasta in the backdrop and one of the best diners ever just a block away. Anyways, they have a Jalapeno flavored beer. Personally, I would file under: interesting concept that didn’t really do it for me (though I’ve had other pepper-tinged beers that I did like: namely the Ommegang Game of Thrones Red), but others here might enjoy it, if you’re ever in the area. It’s one of their biggest sellers and definitely interesting.

  • tgirsch

    IMNSHO, Maine is way too low on this list. It should be top five. And for my money, both Colorado and Oregon are overrated. Oregon’s great if you want to drink 500 different varieties of pale ale and IPA and pretty much nothing else.

    • Marek

      Harrumph. Maine beer is amazing, mostly.

  • Guys, guys, guys, it doesn’t matter which state has the best American beers, it’s still arguing about who is the world’s tallest midget.

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