Craft beer fans can be fanatical and who can blame them? Few things in life are as amazingly satisfying as a great glass of fine brew and once hooked, consumers will often go out of their way to find that one beer that satisfies like no other.
There is, however, one major obstacle with beer, and that would be distribution. Beer is a highly regulated product and each state has its own unique laws regarding who gets to sell, how much can be sold, how beer is taxed, etc., etc. Add to that the small quantity of beer brewed by some of the nation’s top craft breweries and you have a situation that can get very frustrating for the craft beer devotee.
Speaking from the perspective of a person who has lived in several states, I can tell you that, when it comes to beer availability, all states are not created equal. I have lived in places where beer was restricted based on alcohol content, limited as to where it could be sold, or otherwise controlled in some way. The result is a varied systems that can force the craft beer lover into a state of withdraw even more besieging than the state in which he/she happens to live. But there are some U.S. states where the laws are more reasonable and the craft beer flows freely. Here is a listing (rankings taken from a publication at Huffington Post) showing the 10 states where great craft beer can be located with relative ease:
1. California– No surprise here. With its lenient distribution laws, very large number of craft breweries, and home base for such notable crafts as Stone Brewing, Sierra Nevada, Russian River, Anchor, and others, California is a craft beer lovers dream come true. Sure, there may not be much cash left for beer after making the $3,000 monthly payment on your modest 1,500 square foot ranch home, but the amazing beer could make it all worthwhile.
2. Wisconsin- The Badger state has earned its reputation as a place where beer freedom reigns. Once associated more with Miller Brewing and G. Heileman, Wisconsin is now home to a large number of craft breweries and its lenient laws make it easy to find the beer you desire.
3. Massachusetts– The Kennedys prefer the hard stuff and have little trouble finding it. Fortunately, the same is true with craft beer, as the citizens of Massachusetts have little trouble finding what they want.
4. Indiana– Hoosiers, rejoice: Your NBA Pacers haven’t given you much to cheer about, but you can be happy knowing that craft beer is abundant and easy to obtain. Sun King Brewing, Three Floyds Brewing, Upland Brewing, and countless others deserve your loyalty and praise.
5. Virginia– Best known for its place in American history, Virginia is also home to a thriving craft beer business that just keeps getting better and better each year. It also doesn’t hurt that Virginia laws make it easy for far away brewers to establish a footprint in the state.
6. Ohio-Once known for its irrational limits on beer alcohol content and other nonsensical laws, Ohio has officially entered the 21st century. It is now easy to not only get craft beer, but also to get some of the nation’s very best beer like Founders Brewing and Bells Brewing thanks to the close proximity to neighboring Michigan.
7. Illinois– Again, location is key. Illinois does, indeed, house some notable breweries of its own, but the main reason for its high ranking is the short distance to Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana, not to mention the wide distribution of these products.
8. New York– What can you say? The state of New York has quite liberal laws when it comes to beer distribution and its large wholesalers have a good deal of financial clout. Ironically, New York ranks near the bottom based on beer consumption per capita, but those who do love beer have little trouble finding some of the best in the nation.
9. Pennsylvania– The Keystone state has a long brewing history and is home to well- known breweries like D.G. Yuengling, Victory Brewing, and others. But what also helps it rank in the top 10 is the variety of beers easily accessible. Yes, it can take effort to get the exact quantity of beer you want in Pennsylvania due to its restrictive selling laws, but the choices are many.
10. Vermont– The only small state in the rankings, Vermont rounds out the list due not only to its high concentration of breweries per capita, but also because of the number of highly respected breweries that sell their products within the state’s borders. Residents can visit a local brewery and enjoy the fresh taste of fine craft brew or head to a nearby beverage store where they will find a plethora of craft beer options.