The Top-Rated Beer Advocate Beers by State
Much to my data-loving delight, Beer Advocate slices and dices its top beer lists in a variety of different categories, although one thing it doesn’t do is break things down into top beers by state. Being the crazy person that I am, I decided to go into each of Beer Advocate’s nine regional lists — Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Mountain, New England, South, South-Atlantic, Southwest and West Coast — and manually filter by state. Aleheads recently did something similar in finding out what the number-one beer was for each state per Beer Advocate ratings, but I actually began this project before I read their post, and decided to go the distance. This yielded a spreadsheet of 900 beers, which can be downloaded here:
Top Beers and Breweries by State [.xlsx spreadsheet]
Now, a number of caveats must be kept in mind when reviewing so-called “best-of” lists that are compiled via user reviews, all of which Aleheads covered more comprehensively than I could have hoped to do. That said, I will reiterate the fact that since Beer Advocate’s “most popular” lists require only a minimum of 10 reviews for inclusion, it’s important to remember that you’re going to see a lot of beers you’ve never heard of — not to mention that you won’t have access to unless you live nearby — beating out well-established classics. It is for this reason I’ve included a column in the spreadsheet for the number of reviews each beer received, to provide some additional context. For a more “honest” grouping of the country’s top-rated beers, I’d recommend checking out BA’s “Beers of Fame” list, which compiles the top-rated beers with 1,000-plus reviews.
After compiling the data for all 900 beers, I was curious to see how things shook out in a couple of different categories. Perhaps the most telling statistic is which beer types were most popular. If you’re reading this, it won’t surprise you to know that serious beer enthusiasts absolutely love their Imperial Stouts and Imperial IPAs, as the former style was responsible for 74 of the 900 beers compiled herein, while the latter racked up 71. However, these were only the second- and third-most popular styles. The beer style with the most entries was, unsurprisingly, the most popular craft beer style in the country — my favorite and yours, the American IPA, which held 107 positions on the list.
Here’s a pie chart:
I counted 79 different styles of beer out of the top 900, and so I decided to limit the cutoff for chart representation at 10 or more. This left 169 beers uncategorized in the above chart, represented as “other.”
I was also interested to see which states were responsible for the greatest percentage of their regions’ top beers. Again, this data has to be taken with several grains of salt, as the number of states in each of BA’s regions varies considerably (for example, the Southwest only has four states, while the Midwest has seven). That said, this still provides a rough look at which states are producing the highest number of well-thought-of brews:
Not too many surprises here, with Colorado and California leading the way. I’m guessing Minnesota and Texas probably look a bit out of place to people, but Minnesota’s only real competition in the Midwest region was Missouri. Plus those Minnesotans really love their local breweries, many of which don’t even ship out of state. As for Texas, I can personally attest to a lot of tremendous craft beer being produced in the Lone Star State, as I regularly travel down to the Houston area for family vacations. Of course, Texas also only had three other states to compete with. I’m certainly pleased to see my home state of New York well-represented here as well as Pennsylvania making a top-ten appearance.
And lastly, here’s a look at which breweries were featured most often among the list of 900:
I made a few exceptions here, limiting the breweries to full-on production breweries — it didn’t seem fair to include Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery (which had 20 beers on the list) or Bluegrass Brewing Co. – East St. Matthew’s (17), since they are the only places you can get those beers. There may be a couple of surprising entrants on this chart, but for the most part it seems fairly representative of some of the top brewers in the country.