Big cities have plenty of breweries, but smaller cities have more brewers per person, according to a report by C+R Research.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated: June 07, 2019

Last year, America blew past the 7,000 brewery mark, continuing an unprecedented decade long run of openings. As a result, the craft beer trade group the Brewers Association determined that 85 percent of drinking-age adults now live within 10 miles of a brewery. So it’s fair to say that most Americans now have convenient access to freshly made beer, but what city has the most convenient access? Chicago-based C+R Research recently tried to determine the answer, compiling its own list of U.S. cities with the most craft breweries per person – and smaller cities dominate the list.

To compile their data, C+R looked at “more than 500 cities” (ostensibly starting with the largest and working their way down) and then used SteadyServ Technologies’ BreweryDB database to determine the number of breweries in each one. From there, a little math determined the final ranking, with the list choosing to present the results as breweries per 50,000 people.

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Topping the list, somewhat unsurprisingly for beer fans, was Portland, Maine, with a whopping 18 breweries per 50,000 people. Only a handful of other cities even came close to that density, but they are also well-known craft beer powerhouses: Asheville, North Carolina, was second on the list with 17 breweries per 50,000. Bend, Oregon, finished third with 16 breweries per 50,000. And Boulder, Colorado, landed the four with 14 breweries per 50,000.

C+R didn’t offer a ton of analysis, but they did note this tidbit: “Large cities like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles don’t appear on this list,” they write. “In fact, the only cities with a population of 250,000 or more on the list included Denver, Madison, Portland, and Cincinnati.” Still, it should be pointed out that places like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles certainly aren’t lacking in breweries; in fact, recent Brewers Association analysis named Chicago as the U.S. city with the most breweries total. Instead, these cities simply have an excess of population. And thanks to high population density, you’ll still likely be able to find a taproom nearby.

Here’s the entire list, with breweries per 50,000 people listed in parenthesis:

1. Portland, Maine (18)
2. Asheville, North Carolina (17)
3. Bend, Oregon (16)
4. Boulder, Colorado (14)
5. Kalamazoo, Michigan (10)
6. Vista, California (10)
7. Greenville, South Carolina (10)
8. Portland, Oregon (9)
9. Pensacola, Florida (9)
10. Missoula, Montana (8)
11. Fort Collins, Colorado (8)
12. Loveland, Colorado (7)
13. Grand Rapids, Michigan (7)
14. Santa Cruz, California (7)
15. Royal Oak, Michigan (7)
16. Charleston, South Carolina (7)
17. Bellingham, Washington (7)
18. Denver, Colorado (6)
19. Longmont, Colorado (6)
20. Flagstaff, Arizona (6)
21. Rochester, New York (6)
22. Madison, Wisconsin (6)
23. Yakima, Washington (6)
24. Lancaster, Pennsylvania (6)
25. Cincinnati, Ohio (6)

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