Words & Deeds

Think Idaho has a crazy number of breweries for its size? Here’s how we rank.

Every weekend in Idaho, it feels like there’s a local brewery toasting its anniversary — and this weekend is no exception.

Powderhaus Brewing in Garden City will celebrate four years Saturday. And in Hailey and Ketchum, Sawtooth Brewery will mark its eighth anniversary with festivities Friday and Saturday.

But does Idaho really have a higher-than-average number of breweries? Especially for our population size?

Yep. We do.

Idaho ranks just outside the top 10 in the United States when it comes to breweries per capita. That’s according to data from the Brewers Association, a trade organization representing small and independent American craft brewers

With 63 craft breweries in 2018, Idaho had the 11th highest number of breweries per capita. That’s five breweries per 100,000 adults 21 and older. (Idaho’s population in 2018 was 1,754,208 people, according to U.S. Census Bureau data — and 1,237,555 of them were estimated to be 21 and older.)

Some states with more breweries per capita than Idaho are, well, surprising. Montana? (Then again, the population of Montana is, like, the number of Boiseans who trampled each other to see REO Speedwagon at the Western Idaho Fair, right?)

Here are the top 10 states with the highest number of breweries per capita: Vermont, Montana, Washington, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Ohio, Wyoming, New Mexico ... then Idaho.

Even if the Gem State has more breweries per capita than most of the nation, it doesn’t mean they’re cranking out oceans of beer. The Gem State ranked 37th in production with 90,498 gallons. (That’s actually a tiny bit less than the number I crunched using additional reporting from state breweries. Either way, it’s a decrease in production from 2017.) At 2.2 gallons per adult 21 and older, that’s 26th place. Meanwhile, the economic impact ranked 39th in the country — or 21st per capita.

It doesn’t take a math wiz to know that brewery growth in Idaho has plateaued. After explosive growth earlier in the decade, the days of seeing new breweries popping up are history.

Still, it’s nice to know we have plenty of options — 11th in the nation. (Per capita!)

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Michael Deeds is an entertainment reporter and columnist at the Idaho Statesman, where he also has been a sportswriter, entertainment editor and features editor. Deeds co-hosts “The Other Studio,” a one-hour music show, at 8 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.