The United States of Beer: The Best Brew From Each of the 50 States

Drink your way around the country with the finest craft suds from Alabama to Wyoming.


What's your favorite beer from your home state? Not too long ago, this question would have likely drawn blank stares, as most folks in the country had to make do with macro-brewed lagers and the odd European import at their local bars. But the massive suds renaissance of the past few decades has changed all that, spawning more than 2,000 craft breweries for locals to rally behind, and making cross-country beer hunting a more compelling pastime than ever.

While any "best of" compilation is unavoidably colored by personal tastes, our goal in compiling this nation-wide hit list was to think about the one beer that most fully represents the regional style, heritage, and attitude of brewing in each state. In places with well-developed scenes like California and Pennsylvania, that might mean a gamechanging double IPA or classic pilsner that set the bar for all those that came after. In more up-and-coming states like Missouri or Virginia, it's more likely to be that singular pour that you'd be a fool to miss if you came within striking distance of the brewery.

Some of the beers are nationally available, while others require traveling to the state or even—in a few cases—showing up on a special release day that only comes around once a year. Taken in sum, they are proof positive that the U.S.A. is the most exciting place in the world to be a beer drinker right now. Bottoms up!

Written by Joshua M. Bernstein (@JoshMBernstein), Chris O'Leary (@brew_york), and Ale Sharpton (@AleSharpton)

Click to start the list
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  • Covert Hops Society

    Disagree with Sweetwater. Mediocre at best. Replace with Terrapin Wake n Bake.
    Troegs is far better than Victory Prima Pils. Trogenator, Nugget nectar and Flying Mouflan are all WAY better.
    I’ve had the Thomas Creek Extreme IPA and it was not good. Bottle Tree Blonde is a better choice for South Carolina.

    • Zehr Alte

      Check “Beer Advocate” ratings for “German Pilseners” – I’ll agree that Troegs brews several excellent beers but the reviewers at “Beer Advocate” selected the offering from Victory as the highest rated of its style.

    • Weston Gaskill

      Bottle Tree Blonde is actually not a SC beer. It is a contract beer that Thomas Creek produces for Bottle Tree. Bottle Tree’s official location is Tryon, NC.

  • SnowAngel


  • Hawkeye guy

    Hahaha, yeah this is a joke. Hop wrangler tastes like dish soap, best in iowa, please you just made beer shoot out my nose. Peace tree brewing is mediocre on a good day. This site needs to do its home work. They obviously have not tried beer from toppling Goliath. Their worst beer is better than hop wrangler. Hell millstream is better. Wank.

    • Real Deal

      Spoken like a true Hawkeye douche bag who knows nothing about beer. Keep believing wanker.

    • IABeerFan

      Geez, someone had a bad day. Both Peace Tree and Toppling Goliath make great beers. With so many Iowa beers to choose from, it’s not tough to find a favorite.

  • fishsticks

    LOL….Bayou Teche is 100% contract brewed in Mississippi, not even made in Louisiana

  • Peace Tree Brewing Company

    Thank you! We are honored to be selected. There are some great beers in Iowa and we are proud to be a part of the movement!

  • Tudoggs

    PA . . . not even close. That beer isn’t even the best beer that Victory makes.

  • bourbon county platinum

    Good Island should not be on the list, they are owned by inbev and laffler just left

    • What?

      Their beer hasn’t changed yet. Until it does if you can’t recognize bottles like Juliet and such for their quality you’re missing the point of enjoying good craft beer.

      • bourbon county light lime

        so you support AB inbev? that tries to mussel out other craft beer?

        • You’re missing the point.

          Saying a beer has been good before ABInBev purchased it isn’t supporting AB. It’s just saying its historically been good. And it’s muscle not mussel

        • Goose Island Beer Co.

          Would you like to come tour our brewery in Chicago?

      • Pfunk

        If you think the beer hasn’t changed, Taste again friend, and look at where it is brewed next time you buy a sixer.

      • Joe

        Are you kidding? The flavors coming out of what used to be an excellent brewery have gotten significantly blander. It’s no longer “good craft beer,” but a last resort at an airport bar. Sucks those guys sold out, but hey, I probably would have done the same thing.

        Overall, a decent list. But we’re really picking Allagash over Maine Brewing Co.?

  • BorderLine Guy

    WI: Good call on NOT picking Spotted Cow. Not a fruit beer guy, but New Glarus Raspberry Tart is fantastic!

  • Doug

    Surly Furious is my go to beer, their DIPA, Abrasive is out right now, the best beer on the planet! MN has some of the best beer in the country.

    • Milton Stew

      Surly is the most overhyped beer in human history. It’s good but not that good. Fanboi overload should be their next beer. And imperial milk stout is more fitting.

  • Brother Ray

    Congratulations to the Brew Crew at Cigar City, you make a fine product!

  • Tom Leibrandt

    I love the brews at Goose Island….don’t feel the same since they sold to InBev though

  • RM

    Well, out here in the West, they certainly got Idaho and California correct…I’d have never gone with what they came up with in Oregon and Washington, however (just my opinion).

    • cdennisg

      It would be very difficult to even pick a “best” from Oregon, but not seeing a beer from Deshutes on the list is baffling. And, I agree with the Idaho pick, since I live very near the brewery, and enjoy their beer very much. It is interesting to note that I have found it much cheaper on store shelves in other states than at the grocery stores within a mile of the brewery.

      California’s pick could have easily been something from Lagunitas, too.

  • rbdclem

    SC should be COAST Boy King or Holy City Pecan Dream

    • mark

      Coast is ok, they have 2, maybe 3 good ales. Holy City has many great beers and they all are rockstars. Pecan Dream, Notorious P.I.G, Pluff Mud Porter,etc…

  • Dsmith521

    Great list. There were a few that I didn’t agree with, but who the hell am I? Living in Oklahoma it is likely that I will never have a chance to try most of these. Dang bible belt…

  • Henry Graack

    Prima Pils is on the list not because it is the best beer in the state, but because it is the best pilsner most people have ever had. Goose Island may be owned by a terrible company, but bourbon county is still one of the best beers. Obviously a list like this will stir up controversy, but the beers on the list I have tried I can understand why they were selected.

  • emo

    Better than Pliny the Elder: The oh-so-rare Pliny the YOUNGER triple IPA

  • Darein

    East end brewing is amazing, its one of the few brewers that domeverything right. Harvest wet hop ale, snow melt ale, black strap stout, all absolutely on point and of course there signature beer big hop ipa is well done

  • southwestbeerguy

    Not a bad list but some like Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico are just flat out wrong and not even close.

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  • R Illi jr

    Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPA my fav Marshall MI

  • Lauren

    Very disappointed with the Kentucky pick. What should be listed is West Sixth Brewery’s IPA — even agrees.

    • Jared

      I completely agree that the KY pick was wrong, but west sixth is still fairly new. I think something from Cumberland Brewing Co. or BBC should have been the obvious choice.

  • Justin Ware

    Ivan the terrible for MT?? I live in MT and have never seen that beer in the wild. With my job I travel a lot and being a beer snob I check the beer aisle at every gas station. I also spend a ton of time in Missoula .. until I actually see this beer in person I’ll consider it a Unicorn.

    • Fred Zifflle

      I’m in California and just picked up a bottle. No unicorn, it’s for real. Pretty damn good too.

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  • Ed Coyne

    Alaskan Pale Ale. Done.

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  • Donald Westbrook

    Petit Prince is nowhere near as good as the Black Metal Stout, which itself is not the best beer in TX.

  • Dan

    Spot in with Ohio. Second to the Browns, nothing gets Clevelanders going like Christmas Ale.

  • mharvey
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  • BarclaysLaunders4Terrorists

    I’ve never been able to make this site work in Chrome. What gives?

  • Joe Callender

    Is 7.5% ABV the new “sessionable” target? Those sessions are going to hurt later.

    • meat in the box

      A “session” can be one or two beers sipped slowly. It doesn’t need to be a binge drinking session.

  • Joe Callender

    Recently had a keg of the KY Bourbon Ale in the tasting room I work in. It did not last a week. Even a hit among new craft beer drinkers. Many asked for bottles and by the pic, they are available. Got an email to send.

  • Drake

    South Carolina… COAST or Westbrook, easily.
    New York is a joke. Sorachi Ace isn’t even on the top 10 of Brooklyn Beers I’ve tried, and there are much better breweries in the state. Ithaca? Captain Lawrence? Southampton?
    The pick for Virginia is a great beer, but hardly our best. That would probably be something from Hardywood Park or Williamsburg Alewerks.

    • Josh Shirley

      Ommegang, Southern Tier!

  • Jacob

    In the future, it would be great if you acknowledged where you got your photos from. You used 2 of mine without permission. Lazy blogging at its best

    • Mitch_J

      agreed. My photo is in there too with no attribution.

    • Really?

      Yeah that one of the label… Pure artistic magic. Well done instagrammers!

    • Milton Stew

      Send them a DMCA notice and require them to take it down.

  • Scott Lewis

    Agreed. Allagash Curieux (of Maine) is transcendent.

  • Jenny

    Everyone in Cleveland looks forward to our Christmas Ale! Try it with a cinnamon sugar rim on your glass! Delicious!

  • Joe

    Are we really arguing over Beer Advocate ratings. We all know that basically .01% of the beer drinking population rates beers on that site, and majority of the voters drink obscure styles(sours,barley wines,etc) so no way to judge everyday drinking craft beers. Look at the Top 10 Craft Brewer Sales in your market. Now how many of them are rated well on these sites? Not many.

    Ratings = cool conversation
    Volume=brewery growth

    And to another point. CASCADE Brewing makes some of the best sours around. IMO the most cutting edge sour barrel house

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  • Jeff Kupko

    Agree with Jacob. Used a photo of mine as well without acknowledgement.

    • Jeff Kupko

      Check that…2 of mine. Kentucky and South Carolina.

  • Janine Turner

    Photo stealing once again! Not cool

  • StephenBody

    I actually like this list a lot and have very few bones to pick with it but, just sticking to my own neighborhood, I don’t think you’re going to find a lot of craft beer fans in Washington to name Elysian’s gorgeous Dark o’ The Moon as best beer, nor will you find Oregonians naming Cascade’s Apricot, as beautiful an ale as it is. I suspect the Washington response would be Fremont Bourbon Barrel Abominable or Kentucky Dark Star or Black Raven Wisdom Seeker. And I Oregon, Laurelwood Workhorse or Logsdon Peche ‘n’ Brett – along with about a dozen others – would take top billing. While giving well-deserved respect to our NW brewing tradition’s wide-open stylistic range, don’t forget that we have our niche beers, too, and both of your Best Ofs for the two states would fall in that category. This is not to take anything away from either beer or brewery but I don’t think anyone would be thinking of those two beers FIRST, and would probably name something else before thinking of them. I’d also doubt the selections for Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, and Michigan, too. Especially Michigan, where Bell’s Black Note and Hopslam, along with Founders KBS, Backwoods Bastard and Porter would all have to surpass the Jolly Pumpkin.

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  • Tab

    Here in Idaho, we have over 25 established breweries, with many opening every year. However, Laughing Dog is amazing!

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  • Chris

    La Roja for Michigan? It’s not THAT good. Two Hearted Ale, Hopslam, Breakfast Stout, Plead the 5th, and many others are more worthy of the title.

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  • mark

    They got South Carolina all wrong. Holy City Brewery in North Charleston is #1. Coast is weak, Westbrook is inconsistent and Thomas Creek is average. There are many more that are supremely better.

    • Scott

      Holy City is certainly not number one. Most of their beers are hyped up. This would be my order:
      1. Thomas Creek: Wide range of styles, 2nd oldest brewery in SC, have something for everyone.
      2. Westbrook: They pump out a lot of beers but their IPA and Mexican cake are top notch.
      3. Holy City: Great selection. Need to work on IPAs and specialty brews.
      4. RJ Rockers: Other than Son of A Peach most of their beers are subpar.
      5. COAST: Only one good beer here that is decent and that’s the IPA.

  • Ben Bitten

    Have to agree with Java Stout, although you have to try their Black IPA as well. Also, Marble Red, La Cumbre Hefeweisen, and omething known only as Pecan Beer

  • Lee

    Looking for a microbrewery sample selection for a gift. Is there a company that pools nationally (like the wine distributers ) or is it all very local?

  • Wyatt

    It’s Tucson, Arizona, not Tuscon.

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