Breweries are scattered across the country and every state has at least one craft brewery. But the differences in regions are pretty remarkable. The Mountain West, West Coast, and New England all have about one brewery per 110,000 people, plus or minus a few thousand. Parts of the Midwest are 1 in 125k. The South, by contrast has one craft brewery for every half-million. All of that's pretty straightforward. It's the Mid-Atlantic, however, that's thwarting me.
My suspicion is that look at state stats aren't much use. There's a rich vein of breweries between Baltimore (maybe DC) to NY--a span of a couple hundred miles. If you ignore state boundaries, this region is heavily-breweried. Moreover, I think it's a distinct brewing region. It was one of the only parts of the US where regional breweries hung on through consolidation, and it has more than a few of the most notable craft breweries. They seem to produce an older style of beers consistent with those old regional breweries--lagers and lighter ales. Yet per-capita stats don't help much because there are so many people. You get something like 1 in 275k, depending on which states you include-abysmalby comparison.
What I'm looking for is a coherent area in which the history, brewing styles, beer culture, and consumption patters knit the region together. In the Northwest, for example, we have a long history of local brewing, and this fed interest in the early micro explosion. We like intense flavors, and so prefer bigger, hoppier beers. Our parochialism sustains a rich culture of events and support for local breweries, including very small ones. And perhaps most notably, we consume beer disproportionately in pubs when compared with other regions--a feature of the weather, perhaps.
I prevailed upon the beer bard of Philly, LewBryson, to help me out, and he identified the region depicted in the map below. (Roughly speaking, Northern Virginia to Western PA to upstate NY and down through NYC and Philly.)
My questions are these:
- Is there a coherent, Mid-Atlantic region?
- If so, do you think Lew is about right on its boundaries?
- What distinguishes this region?