10 Best Beer States of 2011
Number of breweries: 121
Capita per brewery: 31,622
Production in 2010: 2.8 million barrels
Consumed per capita in 2010: 22.7 gallons
Oregon's beer empire is built on craft, and anyone who's found themselves amid too many brewpubs in Portland with too little time to see all of them knows it can take quite a while to explore that empire.
Deschutes Brewery is a good place to start and produces the second most beer of any Oregon brewer -- 203,000 barrels last year alone. They trail only the Craft Brewers Alliance, which brewed 370,000 barrels in Oregon last year and owns Portland's Widmer Brothers Brewery and Gasthaus Pub. Full Sail Brewing Company in Hood River, meanwhile, has a stunning view from its brewpub and produced 101,000 barrels last year while staring up at Mount Hood or gazing down at the kitesurfers along the Columbia River.
The key to Oregon's success doesn't lie with Rogue Ales, BridgePort Brewing, Widmer Brothers Brewing, MacTarnahan's Taproom or even at Craft Brewers Alliance headquarters. It's in the state's variety of breweries that give it the third-most facilities in the nation and second best capita per brewery. The state's smart drinking public is matched only by its solid brewing community.
"The states that have high number of breweries or a low number of people per brewery (capita per brewery) I consider as areas where there is a high level of beer knowledge, interest in small, local companies and an entrepreneurial streak," the Brewers Association's Gatza says. "For every brewery that starts up across the country, there is a person willing to strike out on her or his own and go through all of the steps needed to get the brewery going."