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Friday, September 14, 2012

Gerrymandered! Craft Beer Is No Proxy for Political Leanings

Philly's Joe Sixpack:
Remarkably, every one of the 25 most densely brewed states voted for Obama in 2008. Those blue states account for 335 electoral votes - much more than the 270 needed for victory. 
He includes a very professional graph to show how it all shakes out.  The thing is, the metric is pretty bizarre:  "It ranks the states by brewery density - the number of breweries per 1,000 square miles."  It's based on geography, not people, so states are penalized for not having breweries in the middle of pasture land and mountains.  He analyzes: 
What's really important here is the type of beer voters are drinking.  Most American breweries today are microbreweries or so-called craft breweries - small businesses that make handcrafted batches of premium-priced beer. There are about 2,100 of them nationwide, according to the Brewers Association, the highest number since the 1800s....

I know I'll get some argument here, but I'd say that it takes a certain progressive, open-minded attitude - certainly not fundamentalist, conservative values - to even begin drinking craft beer. That's why the Deep South is so far behind the curve in the microbrewing revolution.
Yes, indeed you shall get an argument.  Look, we don't care about square miles.  Sagebrush doesn't drink beer.  If you were really trying to find out how people and breweries related, you'd look at breweries per capita.  And why is this metric uninteresting?  Because Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska are top-seven per-capita states, and states like New York and New Jersey are in the bowels of the ranking.  It is true that the southern states are the least-breweried, but they're also the states where new breweries are cropping up the most.

But really, the indefensible part is that business about the "progressive attitude."  Unless he's talking about progressive Guernseys, I assume he is talking about people.  And the people of the great states of Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming drink a whole lot of craft-brewed beer.

(On the off chance anyone reads this as an endorsement of either party, it's probably important for me to offer the full disclosure that I'm pretty much a communist.  But only on matters of politics, not beer.)


  1. Craft beer isn't about politics. But it is a perfect example of free market at its best. Where the consumer has the right to choose and buying habits change the course of the industry. When the big three dominated the market, pre-beer revolution, that wasn't free market.

  2. Why is the Deep South so far behind? I place the blame on Baptists, not Republicans (although there is undoubtedly some overlap).

    It's taken a great deal of time and effort for states in the South (i.e. GA and NC) to "Pop the Cap", i.e. allow high-ABV beers. Many southern states (like GA) have only recently allowed Sunday sales of alcohol. AL still has some pretty bizarre laws for beer (crazy anti-keg laws, still have "package size" restrictions disallowing 22oz and 750mL bottles, etc). Although Jimmy Carter may have legalized homebrewing, the trend has been forestalled in the South in states like Alabama, where it's still illegal, and MS, where to my knowledge, it was only legalized somewhat recently.

    But that's my take on it, as a craft-beer drinking, homebrewing, libertarian/anarcho-capitalist...

  3. I agree with Brad. Plus Asheville (maybe not the deep south), Georgia, and Florida have great beer scenes if you know where to look.

  4. What's to 'argue' over? If you wanna make a case for an alternate hypothesis based on per capita, income, age, prob, but, based on Don's choice of brewers/turf to support Blue <> Craft Brew, there isn't any denying his postulation.

    There's also a correlation of 'wet' v 'dry' states to Blue v Red that roughs out along North v South. Which also matches up along low v HIGH beer excise taxes too.

    Bottom lined: as a born and raised 'wet' state dweller of NY that lived in PDX for a dozens years (90-02) & a number of the other 'blue' states too), I'm 'partial' to 'turf' that a) has smart, open-minded, curious, folk that choose to experiment w/ and support local and fresh micro v macro beers AND if they're 'Blue' too? All the better. Na zdravi!