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How Solid Are The Breweries In Your State?

Eno Sarris, June 17, 2015 -   

Making mostly good beers and making singular great beers is not necessarily the same thing. Compare, for example, the gritty efforts of Lagunitas versus the heady flights of Mikkeller. Maybe, in your mind, Lagunitas doesn't make something on the level of Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, while Mikkeller's worst is much worse than the Cappucino Stout. Easy enough to wrap your mind around. 

In an effort to see if states might have this sort of dichotomy, I did a quick sampling of our database. The question was, for breweries with a combined BAR of over 19 -- so at least the size of Base Camp brewing in in Portland -- which states have the breweries that have the most above-average beers, and which states have the breweries that make the most superlative beers. In other words, what is the average solid% by state, and what is the average BAR25 (the combined BAR of the top 25% of the beers by a brewery) by state. 

I then culled the leaderboard for states that had fewer than five breweries that qualified. We're missing some state data on breweries, but what can you do. We're working on that. For now, here's a fun list to yell about. 

First, sorted by BAR25, so the states whose qualifying breweries had the most excellent beers. 

region count avgbar25 avgsolidper
MI 15 88.7 72.2
VT 5 78.9 82.4
FL 8 78.1 78.4
IL 14 70.5 66.0
CA 55 65.9 70.9
CO 17 61.6 68.4
IN 7 61.2 67.6
ME 6 53.7 86.2
PA 12 50.5 68.1
WI 7 50.5 67.6
OH 10 49.9 70.4
MO 9 49.3 78.5
NY 14 40.0 63.4
OR 31 38.3 70.5
MA 12 35.8 70.6
TX 21 33.8 76.3
MD 8 32.3 61.3
MN 11 31.6 80.4
GA 7 31.5 68.5
BC 8 28.2 68.7
NC 17 27.4 70.5
WA 12 26.1 72.5
VA 8 23.5 65.5
ON 7 23.2 74.9

This is an interesting way to give Michigan its due. It's not going to have the most breweries, it's not going to have the most beers, it's not going to always have the most solid beers -- Founders and Bell's make duds, they do -- but it really has some excellent beers at the top. Hopslam, KBS, CBS, Two-Hearted... Michigan, get your due. 

It's also interesting to see Florida near the top. Looks like it's mostly just Cigar City floating the crew, and if we set the bar higher for entry, Illinois and California would easily eclipse the state with fewer entries. California gets enough love, but can it get a what what for having 55 (!) qualifying breweries and still outdoing Florida's eight? we live in a wonderful time. 

One leaderboard that won't feature California at the top is the one that focuses on solid%. It's hard for 55 breweries to all make above-average beers every time out. 

region count avgbar25 avgsolidper
ME 6 53.7 86.2
VT 5 78.9 82.4
MN 11 31.6 80.4
MO 9 49.3 78.5
FL 8 78.1 78.4
TX 21 33.8 76.3
ON 7 23.2 74.9
WA 12 26.1 72.5
MI 15 88.7 72.2
CA 55 65.9 70.9
MA 12 35.8 70.6
NC 17 27.4 70.5
OR 31 38.3 70.5
OH 10 49.9 70.4
BC 8 28.2 68.7
GA 7 31.5 68.5
CO 17 61.6 68.4
PA 12 50.5 68.1
IN 7 61.2 67.6
WI 7 50.5 67.6
IL 14 70.5 66.0
VA 8 23.5 65.5
NY 14 40.0 63.4
MD 8 32.3 61.3

Maine and Vermont are probably the poster children for solid%. If you go to those states, you half expect to have an above-average beer put in your hand at the border. People plan weddings around these things. Vermont probably deserves to win best beer state just based on the fact that it's second in both leaderboards. 

Let's not ignore the fact that the leaderboard of states with more than ten qualifying breweries would list Texas and Washington in the top three. One may not surprise, but Texas is now making solid beers. Look at the solid% on Saint Arnold, Karbach, and Peticolas breweries. It's impressive, really

But maybe the surprise of the day is Minnesota. It's tempting to say it's all Surly, but look at the board. Surly, Indeed, Dangerous Man, Steel Toe, Bent Paddle, and Hammerheart breweries are all good at keeping the bar high. See those labels, and you can feel pretty good. See those labels in one place, and you are in the land of lakes. 

Water, water everywhere -- why drink a drop. Go to the bar and let the bartender pick for you in these states. 

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