Reid Wilson is the author of Read In, The Post’s morning tipsheet on politics. If you have a candidate for best state, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Americans are becoming beer snobs. For the first time, craft breweries produced more barrels of beer than Budweiser did, according to figures for 2013 published by Beer Marketer’s Insights and reported by the Wall Street Journal.
So forget the mega-breweries in Missouri and Wisconsin and Colorado. Although tastes and preferences differ, no state has better access to small local craft beers than Oregon, where tipplers can knock back a Rogue Dead Guy Ale or a Widmer Hefeweizen.
Oregon is home to more than 180 craft breweries, defined as companies that produce less than 6 million barrels of beer annually. That’s fewer breweries than its West Coast neighbors, California and Washington, but Oregon has more breweries per capita than any other state.
Washington produces almost three-quarters of the hops grown in the United States, while Oregon and Idaho together account for 24 percent, according to the Hop Growers of America. Good local hops lead to good local beers.
The state’s craft breweries generate almost $1.3 billion in economic activity — $449 for every Oregonian age 21 and older — which is more per capita than every other state. And Oregonians are loyal to their state. Oregon Craft Beer, the industry’s association, reports that 53 percent of all draft beers poured within the state’s borders come from in-state breweries.
By more subjective measures, Oregon still comes out on top. Thrillist, an online magazine dedicated to food, travel and drink, ranked Oregon beers the best in the country, beating out California and Colorado.
Craft brewing is even catching on in states without a long tradition of beer making. Mississippi and North Dakota, the two states with the fewest breweries, have seen their industries double and triple, respectively, in size over the past two years. Mississippi now has four, and North Dakota has six.
And having surpassed Budweiser, the industry still has room to grow. Craft brewers accounted for about 8 percent of the U.S. beer market in 2013, according to the Brewers Association, an industry trade group. Larger domestic producers accounted for 10 times that amount.
As other states seek to tap that lucrative market, new brewers should look to Oregon’s booming industry for recipes, ingredients — and samples. Cheers to Oregon!