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best cities for beer drinkers
According to the National Beer Wholesalers Association, in 2018, approximately 82% of all beer in the U.S. was domestically produced. While that may indicate that beer is widely available across the country, not all drinkers will agree it’s worth using their savings to buy another round in every city. That’s why SmartAsset took a look at the best cities for beer drinkers around the country.

Below, we examine at a total of five factors to rank the best cities for beer drinkers. Specifically, we look at total number of breweries, breweries per 100,000 residents, average number of beers per brewery, bars per 100,000 residents and average price for a pint of domestic beer in each city. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s fifth study on the best cities for beer drinkers. Read the 2018 version here.

Key Findings

  • Another round of your favorites. Six of the cities that made the top 10 last year did so again this year: Cincinnati, Ohio; Portland, Oregon; Asheville, North Carolina; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Denver, Colorado and Bend, Oregon. All do particularly well when it comes to the number of breweries per 100,000 residents and the variety of beers per brewery.
  • Western and Midwestern cities dominate. In the top 10, there are four cities in Western states (two of which are in Oregon) and four cities in Midwestern states (two of which are in Ohio). Moreover, across our top 50, there are 19 cities located in Western states and 15 cities located in Midwestern states.

1. Cincinnati, OH

Cincinnati, Ohio takes first place in our study, moving up from fourth place last year. It ranks within the top 25% of the study for all five metrics we considered. In particular, it has top-20 rates for total number of breweries, at 30; breweries per 100,000 residents, at approximately 10 and average number of beers per brewery, at approximately 103. The average price of a pint in Cincinnati is $4.00. Relative affordability and variety make the city a savory option for even the choosiest of beer lovers.

2. St. Louis, MO

St. Louis, Missouri also ranks within the top 25% of the study for all five metrics we considered. Residents who might be interested in trying a variety of beers in St. Louis won’t have to go far. The city ranks 17th-highest overall and highest in the top 10 for its average number of beers per brewery, at approximately 104. Furthermore, it ranks 17th-highest overall and third-highest in the top 10 for the number of bars per 100,000 residents, at about 35. For those looking to brainstorm with colleagues at the bar about future technological innovations, St. Louis is also one of the top cities to work in tech.

3. Portland, OR

Portland is the first Oregon city to make it into our top 10 and ranks third overall. Portland has the most bars per 100,000 residents of any city in our top 10, at about 45. Though the average price of a pint, at $5.00, is more expensive relative to other cities in our top 10, beer lovers will appreciate the fact that the city has many breweries – approximately 69 – and an average of almost 75 types of beer per brewery.

4. Asheville, NC

Across all 350 cities we considered, Asheville, North Carolina ranks within the top 25% for every metric in this study. It does particularly well for its high number of breweries per 100,000 residents, at approximately 27, which is the highest rate for this metric in our top 10 and the second-highest rate overall. With an average of about 90 kinds of beers per brewery and the average price of a pint at $4.00, residents or visitors in Asheville can enjoy something new without running a hefty tab.

5. Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ranks within the top 25% for all five metrics we considered. Of the total 350 cities for which we analyzed data, Pittsburgh ranks 21st-highest for its 24 total breweries and 26th-highest for its approximately 31 bars per 100,000 residents. And you might be able to stretch your dollar further at the bar, as Pittsburgh ranks as No. 1 in our study of the most undervalued cities in America.

6. Denver, CO

While Denver, Colorado has a relatively high price for a pint of beer, it ranks within the top 10% of the study in every other metric. Its total of 79 breweries is the highest amount in the top 10 and second-highest overall, following only Chicago, Illinois. Furthermore, despite its large population, the city still has approximately 11 breweries and 27 bars per 100,000 residents, meaning that beer drinkers in Denver have plenty of options for places to enjoy another round.

7. Bend, OR

Bend, Oregon is one of two cities from the Beaver State to make it into our top 10 along with Portland. It ranks in the top 20% of the study for all metrics except for the average price of a pint, at about $4.50. Bend has the second-highest number of breweries per 100,000 residents in the top 10 and the third-highest overall, at approximately 25.

8. Madison, WI

Madison, Wisconsin, our least-stressed city in 2019, is a great city to decompress with a cold one. It ranks within the top 10% of the study for its relatively high number of bars per 100,000 residents, at approximately 31, and ranks within the top 25% of the study for the remaining metrics. Madison is a relatively affordable city with an average domestic pint running $4.00.

9. Missoula, MT

Missoula, Montana ranks 12th-highest out of all 350 cities in our study for its number of breweries per 100,000 residents, at approximately 12, and 17th-highest for its number of bars per 100,000 residents, at 35. Furthermore, Missoula ranks within the top 10% of the study for its average price for a pint, at $3.50, which is also the lowest price in our top 10.

10. Cleveland, OH

Cleveland, Ohio rounds out our list of the 10 best cities for beer drinkers. It ranks in the top third of the study across all five metrics we considered. The total number of breweries in Cleveland is 21 and the average number of beers per brewery is approximately 51. Furthermore, there are roughly 20 bars per 100,000 residents and the average price of a pint is $4.00.

 

Data and Methodology

In order to find the best cities for beer drinkers, we looked at data on 350 of the largest cities in the U.S. Specifically, we looked at the following five metrics:

  • Total number of breweries. Data comes from ratebeer.com and was pulled in November 2019.
  • Number of breweries per 100,000 residents. Data on microbreweries and brewpubs comes from ratebeer.com and was pulled in November 2019. Data on population comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 1-year American Community Survey and is measured at the city level.
  • Average number of beers per brewery. Data comes from ratebeer.com and was pulled in November 2019.
  • Number of bars per 100,000 residents. Data on bars comes from the 2016 County Business Patterns Survey. Data on population comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 1-year American Community Survey and is measured at the county level.
  • Average price for a pint of domestic draught beer. Data comes from Numbeo.com.

First, we ranked each city in each metric. We then found each city’s average ranking, half weighting the average number of beers per brewery and average price of a pint, single weighting breweries per 100,000 residents and bars per 100,000 residents and double weighting the total number of breweries. Using this average ranking, we created our final score. The city with the best average ranking received a score of 100 and the city with the worst average ranking received a score of 0.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the number of bars per 100,000 residents in Portland, Oregon. There are 45.5 bars per 100,000 residents, not 15.6. Due to this change, Portland, OR moved up in our rankings from eighth to third. As a result, Asheville, North Carolina; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Denver, Colorado; Bend, Oregon and Madison, Wisconsin each moved down one spot. No other city rankings were affected.

Tips for Keeping Good Financial Advice on Tap

  • As you run up a tab, be being smart about your paycheck. When you’re excited about having a night out on the town, it’s important to understand how much of your paycheck you can afford to budget for the festivities. Use our comprehensive paycheck calculator to get a picture of exactly what your take-home pay will be.
  • Whether or not you have a glass-half-full outlook on life, be sure to budget. Enjoying an IPA from your local craft brewery may encourage some optimism as you think about your finances. But to meet your short-term financial goals, it’s necessary to be realistic and use a budget calculator.
  • If staring at your brokerage statements makes you feel like you’re wearing beer goggles, consider professional financial advice. If you’re looking for support with more of your financial goals than just short-term budgeting – like your plans for buying a home or putting your loved ones through school – consider getting in touch with a professional advisor. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now. Next round’s on you.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/izusek

Nadia Ahmad, CEPF® Nadia Ahmad is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®) and a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW). Her interest in taxes and grammar makes writing about personal finance a perfect fit! Nadia has spent ten years working as a seasonal income tax assistant, researching federal, state and local tax code and assisting in preparing tax returns. Nadia has a degree in English and American Literature from New York University and has served as an instructor/facilitator for a variety of writing workshops in the NYC area.
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