November 7, 2012

That's Fine, But Who Won the United States of Beer?

So, as first reported on this blog, there was an election yesterday. Some guy won who had already won before, which probably gave him an advantage over his apparently synthetic opponent. It was a squeaker, because he only won by like 2 million out of 100 million votes, and a landslide, because he won by like 100 of the 540 electoral votes.

No one cares.

Well, that's not true. Plenty of people care, including me. But this is a beer blog, so here no one cares.

More importantly, let's look at who won the United States of Beer.

Here's how I'll break it down: There are 50 states, and I've broken them into five tiers. Each state in the top tier gets you five Beerlectoral Votes, each state in the bottom gets you one, etc. Each tier gets exactly 10 states, and the criteria are subjective from within my head, with lots of credit to Jay Brooks' collection of various beer political wisdom. I can assure you, it makes more sense than most congressional districts or the Electoral College. Here's the map of the election:

Tier 1: The Best Brewery States - 5 points each

  • Oregon - Obama
  • California - Obama
  • Colorado - Obama
The top three are pretty close to inarguable, I think. Lots of craft breweries, lots of great breweries. Obama cleaned up.
  • Pennsylvania - Obama
  • Washington - Obama
  • Michigan - Obama
The next three are solidly top tier, with many craft breweries and defined beer traditions. Again, Obama doing well.
  • North Carolina - Romney
  • Indiana - Romney
  • Texas - Romney
  • Missouri - Romney

These are all pretty debatable. Texas three years ago might have been bottom tier, but huge booms in Austin, San Antonio and elsewhere have really made it a great beer state. Indiana has some fantastic, interesting breweries and hosted the Beer Bloggers Conference. North Carolina has Asheville. Missouri has St. Louis, which has a great craft beer scene right under ABI.

Final Tier 1 tally: Obama - 30, Romney - 20.

Tier 2: The Contenders - 4 points each

  1. Vermont - Obama
  2. Wisconsin - Obama
  3. Illinois - Obama
  4. Massachusetts - Obama
  5. Georgia - Romney
  6. Alaska - Romney
  7. Maine - Obama
  8. Minnesota - Obama
  9. Kansas - Romney
  10. Maryland - Obama
Final Tier 2 tally: Obama - 28, Romney - 12

All of these could probaby have a case to be in the bottom of the top tier, but ultimately either don't deliver enough for their population (e.g. Illinois, Mass), or are still too small to have the density and diversity of the top tier states. Obama extends his lead, now 58-32

Tier 3: Upside - 3 points each
  1. Wyoming - Romney
  2. Oklahoma - Romney
  3. Montana - Romney
  4. Ohio - Obama
  5. Virginia - Romney
  6. Nevada - Obama
  7. Delaware - Obama
  8. New Jersey - Obama
  9. Nebraska - Romney
  10. Tennessee - Romney
Tier 3 tally: Obama - 12, Romney - 18

Here, I started giving major bonus points to the Jeff Alworth school of thought - that small states with more breweries than you'd expect are doing something awesome. So we see Nebraska and Montana and Wyoming (which, based on my GABF experiences, is responsible for a lot of great beer). We do not see New York or Florida, which both have good breweries (sorry, Cigar City!) but just too many people for me to be impressed with the overall brewery scene. Tennessee makes the cut based on Yazoo and more breweries than you'd think. Romney edges Obama here, and cuts the lead to 70-50.

Tier 4: In-betweens - 2 points each
  1. Idaho - Romney
  2. South Carolina - Romney
  3. Louisiana - Romney
  4. Florida - Obama 
  5. New York - Obama
  6. New Mexico - Obama
  7. Iowa - Obama
  8. New Hampshire - Obama
  9. Utah - Romney
  10. Alabama - Romney
Final Tier 4 tally: 10-10

Here we really start seeing some flawed states, like Alabama, and some good ones for whom there was just no room above, like Idaho and South Carolina. It's a tie, though, and that means Romney's cooked.

Tier 5: Some Work to Do - 1 point each
  1. Kentucky - Romney
  2. Arizona - Romney
  3. N. Dakota - Romney
  4. S. Dakota - Romney
  5. W. Virginia - Romney
  6. Arkansas - Romney
  7. Hawaii - Obama
  8. Rhode Island - Obama
  9. Connecticut - Obama
  10. Mississippi - Romney
Final Tier 5 tally: Romney - 7, Obama - 3

Not much to say. These states just don't have much of a brewery scene that's readily apparent.

OBAMA IS THE PRESIDENT OF BEER: 83-67 Beerlectoral votes. Axelrod and Plouffe really can win anything. Even if we give Romney Florida, he still loses.

Editor's note: This was entirely silly and a ridiculous exercise to get me blogging again. There are probably great breweries in low-ranked states to which I can't get access, so I'm going by distribution, Brookston's state beer pages (which probably became out of date almost instantly), GABF, and Internet research. 

It would, however, be cool if those of you who feel I've drastically screwed up, either in process or ranking, were to submit your own via Facebook or the comments. Then we could Internet-argue, and then not go into post-election Internet-argument withdrawal.


  1. I have to say, Election Time is really the only time it's rough to live in Florida. If I'm not being mocked by California writers like Mark Morford, I'm getting backhanded compliments from The Pour Curator!

    Fortunately, it pretty much rocks to live in Florida the rest of the time.

    Cigar City is awesome, but so is my hometown (and the best) brewery, Swamp Head. Amazing stuff. I could live on their wheat beer, Cottonmouth. And St. Somewhere in Tarpon Springs makes some truly interesting beer, like the Pays du Soleil dubbel. Delicious. Green Room Brewing is a new microbrewer in Jacksonville Beach; I sampled their beers at a craft beer festival here in Gainesville this past spring and found it to be tasty. We're no Asheville, but there's more going on here in Florida than just Cigar City.

    1. Ha! Fair enough. Yeah, your state is still working out the voting thing. That's gotta be rough.

      As far as beer, I agree on Swamp Head. I can't stand any beer St. Somewhere makes, though their art is lovely. There's plenty of breweries in FL, but whenever I've been down there and had some local beer, I've always been disappointed. I'll be back in February (Key West), so maybe I'll find some new stuff.

      The issue, I think, for me is that Florida is the nation's 4th-largest state. As you point out, it's a nice place to live and people like it there. So why aren't there five GREAT breweries with national acclaim? New York (on whom I was probably a little too hard), California and Texas all have many more high-profile breweries than Florida, and they're not much bigger. So it's less about Florida being bad than it having the potential to be much better.

  2. Nothing to add, just wanted to say I really enjoyed this.