Counties with Most Breweries per Resident and Locations

This interactive map shows the most breweries per resident in each county. For number of breweries and breweries per resident hover over a county. County values will be in gray. For name, type, location, and brewery website, hover over a blue dot. Location information is brown. Zoom out to see Alaska and Hawaii. Zoom in to see small counties and locations in detail.

Brewery Locations
Breweries per 100,000 residents

Inspiration

The idea for this map came from looking at a European map of Top Beer Drinkers. I wanted to find something similar for the US, but I was more interested in Craft Beer, and to be precise, Breweries. My personal experience is limited to a couple of them, even though I know they are becoming more popular each day. My first visit happened as a day out with some friends. We ended by chance at Abbita Brewing Company in Covington, LA. It was a fun and informative experience. Not long after, I visited McGuire's Irish Pub in Destin. I went for their food and ambiance, but as soon as I arrived I got to see the other reason they are sought after. They have the brewery equipment set up so passersby can see it from outside. This gave me the impression that brewers are very proud of their trade, and love showing their equipment.

A couple of years ago, I had the amazing opportunity of visiting my favorite brewery. I spent half a day at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. It was a place that had a bit of everything. It felt like a mall at first, almost geared to attract American tourists. Nevertheless, it had different spaces to show the science of beer making, the history of Guinness brewery, tasting rooms, live music, and Irish Dancers! I went with my in laws and my 5 year old son. It was fun for all ages! While in Dublin, I was a bit lost on what to do, or where to go, and Guinness was not my choice. I am glad we did it. Next time I travel to a new city, I will definitely look into experiencing a brewery.

Out of these three visits, the only Brewery I had planned to visit was Guinness. The other two were fortuitous encounters. These are definitely cool places to find yourself no matter what. So how common are breweries? Where are most breweries located? Are there areas where breweries are more likely to be found? Where is the closest brewery? Are there different kinds of breweries in this area?

As things are progressing, more and more Americans want craft beer, and more and more Breweries are built in the US. The interest is so high, that close to my small town, another craft brewery is being built. A place I considered suburbs. According to Brewers Association: "In 1980, there were 42 brewing companies with fewer than 100 brewing locations. Now there are more than 6,300 breweries in the U.S., 99 percent of which are small and independent". There are several main reasons why breweries are rising according to The Atlantic: Consumers want new exotic flavors, small craft brewers can sell to consumers, and "rules are designed to check the political and economic power of the largest alcohol companies while creating ample space for upstarts". This has resulted in a brewery boom and variety, we can all enjoy!

It is also important to bring attention to the economic importance of brewers. They contributed with $55.7 billion to the U.S. economy in 2014 and craft brewers were the cause of a comeback of small cities and neighborhoods according to Curbed. Besides "nearly 59,000 people worked in breweries across the United States in 2016" U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Information

The Atlantic article highlights the importance of employment thanks to the boom on Craft Beer. To make this map, I looked at a US census database on Breweries. It was quite an interesting set, as it had information on brewery size, revenue, and number of employees. Unfortunately the data seemed quite short and incomplete compared with Open Brewery DB. What Open Brewery DB file does include, is the type of brewery. According to Evergreen and Brewers Association these types are:

  • Micro: A microbrewery is any facility that produces fewer than 15,000 barrels of beer annually, with 75% or more of its beer served off-site. Unofficially, it’s the word most people use when they’re referring to a business that brews craft beer. Since they are much smaller than a regular brewery, microbreweries have enough time to “craft” different flavors of beer. This dataset has 4016 Micro Breweries.
  • Brewpub: By law, an establishment can only be called a brewpub if it sells 25% or more of its beer on-site. This map has 2357 Brewpubs.
  • Regional: A regional brewery (or a regional craft brewery) is defined as a beer producer that produces 15,000 – 6,000,000 barrels per year. This graph has 215 regional breweries.
  • Large: Any brewery producing more than six million barrels (think Budweiser) is considered a “large” brewery. This list has 76 Large Breweries.
  • Contract: When a brewer has a recipe or excessive volume they need help with, they may hire a different brewery to craft their beer. Under this arrangement, the contract brewery handles all of the marketing and sales for the original recipe but leaves the brewing and packaging to the producer. This map has 207 Contract Breweries.
  • Proprietor: A licensed tenant brewery that physically takes possession of a shared brewery while brewing. In contrast to contract brewers, alternating proprietors are the brewery of record for all of the obligations of a licensed brewery, including record keeping, tax payments, and label or formula approval. This dataset has 70 Proprietors.

For this visualization, I started playing with the data a bit. I expected overall breweries by numbers would show up massively in the East and West Coast. Mayor cities would probably be overwhelmed with them. I mapped the breweries from Open Brewery DB, and my expectations were correct. Cities were overwhelmed with Breweries. But the truth is they are almost everywhere. I realized what mattered was not just their locations, but how many breweries per capita were present in each county. Some tourist areas have several breweries, but Colorado definitely has something going on. Count me in for a ski, or rafting trip filled with brewery visiting, and beer tasting!


Resources

To create this map I obtained the Population Data in 2017 from US Census Bureau. As mentioned before the brewery information came from Open Brewery DB. The information is 1 to 2 years old. To convert some addresses to coordinates I used the Google Sheets Add-ons Geocode by Awesome Tables. To find the county of each location I used the zip code-county data set from Kaggle. The Shapefiles for this map were downloaded from Natural Earth.

For more graphic information on alcoholic beverages and food go to Most Recommended Wine, Cheese, and Meats Pairings. To find a good Cheese to pair with beer, go to Visual Classification of Cheese.

Made by Luz K. Molina with D3.js.

map of breweries per capita and locations in the USA