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Russell Samora

Craft beer — so hot right now.

But nothing compares to , the microbrew capital of the US. Let’s look at what makes this West Coast city a beer mecca, and how everywhere else stacks up.

It sure is! Santa Rosa, California is tops if you are looking for an abundance of high quality brews. Let’s look at what makes this west coast city a beer mecca, and how everywhere else stacks up.

I recently noticed that when there is a discussion involving beer, someone will eventually reference a small, amazing brewery, or say something like ‘‘oh, but you have to go to Minneapolis, it has the best breweries’’ (almost true).

But not everyone can be right. Since a brewery is only as good as its beers, I looked at the available data to make that claim. So what makes Santa Rosa so good?

When you boil it down to a weighted blend of quality (beer ratings) and quantity (breweries in proximity), Santa Rosa tops the list.

Which gives us the top 50 cities for beer-lovers in the US. The bigger the circle, the higher the ranking.

But I am just one person, with one opinion and control of the data. Go ahead and adjust some things below to see how it influences the rankings.

Cities with at least breweries within miles based on beers.

Average rating of all beers

Number of breweries nearby



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Note: Brewery counts are lower than the number that actually exist due to criteria restrictions to account for lack of data. See methodology below.

It should come as no surprise that picking ‘‘the best’’ city is highly subjective, even for a computer. Regardless of the results, there is no doubt that the beer scene has swept across the country. Let’s see just how trendy it is.

Are we at peak beer hype?

Apparently not. New breweries are opening across the country at an increasing rate. Although the trend has been booming since 2010, it doesn’t appear to be slowing either, with nearly 900 new breweries established in 2016.

But not all states are equally excited about beer. While California has the most new breweries by volume, it’s also our biggest state. When we look at breweries opened per capita, we find out where the real beer nuts are at. Vermonters love the hops.

Breweries opened per 100,000 people

States ordered from highest to lowest average per capita openings in the last 20 years

Methodology: Data from RateBeer. Only breweries with 3+ beers that were reviewed 10+ times and 50+ total reviews were included. Restricted each brewery to its top 10 beers by review count (which accounted for greater than 90% of all reviews). Considered only breweries categorized as either microbrewery or brewpub. Only cities with a population of 40,000+ were used. Light beer = 0-4%, medium = 4-7, heavy = 7. Get in touch: or @russellviz.