The map in a header image looks like some sort of modern cubist rendition of the Bay Area, but it's actually a capture of an interactive map from the Washington Post that can help you find the closest brewer to wherever you'd like to click your mouse. It's a fun tool to play with.
It'll show you things graphically that you know if you read BeerGraphs, but are still fun to see. Like look how fractalled out California is, appropriately. You can pretty much see the most active beer communities in America: Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Minneapolis, and... uh... the Eastern Seaboard?
And in fact, that last thing shows you how this could easily morph into an Opportunity Finder for an industrious brewer. I mean, my friend who lives in Siberia says that he can get any of you a brewpub if you move to his lovely town, but this map can find you a good place to open an American Brewery, if you put it up against a map like this.
It's a little beyond me to do this, especially for a blog post tonight, but you could easily overlay this population density map over the one above and find a few places that need new breweries.
Just with your eyepieces in and a little squinting, a few areas of opportunity leap off the page. In the Bay Area, Altamont Brewing covers a lot of ground in the South Bay that could be challenged.
Then look at San Bernandino County, that big red block of a county above Los Angeles. On the beer map, you see Reggie's Restaurant Brewing and Indian Wells Brewing. As long as you don't put up shop right next to Kern River Brewing, you'll have access to a population that could probably give you a nice pat on the butt as you open up shop.
The South is rife with possibility. Look at Florida's panhandle, or the entire states of Alabama and Missisippi. Well, those last two remind that you might want to add one more map into this mix if you were to really create the Bona-Fide New Brewery Opportunity Finder. Courtesy Mappery.com, a family income heat map of the United States:
Yeah, so the panhandle in Florida and Mississippi and Alabama, those look a lot less exciting right now. There's not a ton of money there at least. But San Bernadino County still looks attractive. And I'm sure an industrious young home brewer with the ability to move and perhaps a little seed money could pore over these maps and find the rifest spot.
The best model for sustainable success as a brewpub continues to be the local brewpub. Freshness is important to people, and so is community. A local brewery will always attract people, and will always get a chance to put down roots, no matter how mediocre the beer is (at least that's been my experience tasting beers at busy brewpubs around the nation). Honestly, a fresh beer brewed for a community isn't even as bad as the beer might be if you removed it from that situation. Context is key, and the brewpub provides great context.
Perhaps we can conjure up this Bona-Fide New Brewery Opportunity Finder. In the meantime, check out commercial properties in San Bernadino if you're able. There's probably a real chance there (sorry to Reggie and Indian Wells).