BeerCity USA. Vote early, vote often

Last year the asked readers to vote for their favorite American beer city. More than 19,000 people voted, presumably from across the nation. You might expect that Seattle, Denver, Portland, Philadelphia, San Diego and some of the nation’s other notoriously crafty beer cities would have an unfair advantage in such a poll. You would be wrong.

The 2010 title for BeerCity USA was awarded to Asheville, North Carolina. I heard a lot of people question the results last year, wondering how a city they’d never even heard of managed to win the title. Maybe things will work out differently this year. Then again, maybe Asheville, NC really is America’s beer Xanadu.

It would take a herculean effort to overthrow Asheville as the champ, but why not try? Click here to vote in the 2011 BeerCity USA poll.

If we don’t win, relax. It doesn’t mean anything. The voting is quite obviously biased. Maybe the poll has been hacked. Perhaps the people of Asheville are waging some massive get out the vote campaign. It could be that Asheville is the only city aware of the poll. Once you cast your vote, you can see the current standings. Asheville once again holds a seemingly insurmountable lead.

I have never been to Asheville, NC and cannot really speak to its beeriness. Regardless, I believe that Seattle deserves consideration in any serious conversation about America’s best beer city.

Sounds Like SoDo

Maybe it really is some sort of Shangri-La for beer drinkers. Last year Asheville won the BeerCity USA poll by an overwhelming landslide. It wasn’t even close. Of the 19,000 people that voted, approximately 15,000 of them voted for Asheville. If those numbers mean anything, that’s impressive.

Speaking of numbers, according to and the Bucombe County Tourism Development Authority, “The Asheville area is home to ten craft breweries. On any given day, about 50 local beers can be enjoyed in Asheville, served on draft and in bottles.”

Wow. Ten breweries. Fifty local beers. Sounds like Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood.

To Put it Politely…

I just voted in the the 2011 BeerCity USA poll. Once you vote, you can see the current standings. Of the 16 cities on the list, Asheville currently has 78% of the votes. Again. Take that for what it’s worth: nothing.

In case you cannot read between the lines, I’m asserting that until this poll gets broader attention and receives more votes from across the country, it is meaningless. If we conducted a poll to determine BeerTown USA, and 75 percent of the voters were from Washington, it is very likely that Seattle would win. What would that mean? Nothing. It would be meaningless self-satisfaction, to put it politely.

It would be nice for Seattle’s breweries and brewers, along with the city’s outstanding publicans and the hordes of craft beer enthusiasts who read this blog, to receive a little national recognition, but not if it’s meaningless, faint praise.

Truth is, we don’t need this poll to tell us that we have an amazing beer culture here in Seattle. It’s not just our breweries, but it’s our beer-consuming public as well. We drink way more craft beer than damn near any city in the country. Twenty-four percent of the beer we consume in Seattle is craft beer. In fact, only Portland consumes more craft beer than Seattle (29 percent). Most cities in America don’t even come close. Heck, most cities aren’t even in double digits.

Yes, Seattle is a great beer city. We don’t need a poll to tell us that. If you need an opinion other than mine, just ask the countless breweries from across the country clamoring at our borders, fighting for shelf space at our grocery stores, and sending brewmasters to up here for Seattle Beer Week. Everyone wants a piece of Seattle’s beer action. If you do not believe that, you are not paying attention.

If you want to vote, go vote.

As they say in Asheville, vote early and vote often.


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  1. I have no quibble with Asheville being a fabulous beer site. There are an unusually large number of quality beer bars and brewpubs given the relatively small size of the city. That being said, Seattle and Portland are funnel cities for a vaster brewing region. It is absurd that Asheville is garnering that high a percentage of the vote. The colleges must be stuffing the eballot box.

  2. Reading comments out there on the interwebs, apparently this title means an awful lot to those people in Asheville. Likely the University and the Chamber of Commerce are encouraging people to vote. It is what it is.

  3. I guarantee the university has nothing to do with it. No one is hacking the site. Asheville just has more alcoholics per capita, and we love beer. Reading these comments I feel as though the rest of the country is being dismissive. Asheville is “too small”, or they’re the “only” ones who care (ala Chris Farley). If you guys didn’t care, why bitch and moan on a stupid thread? We’ve one because we love beer, and our beer is better.

  4. As an Ashevillian who loves great craft brew, especially local versions, I am happy and proud that Asheville has claimed the Beer City USA title for the third year in a row. Last weekend I sampled tasty home brews at a local festival where 50 home brewers offered samples of their creations. Last week I participated in a beer master tournament (I didn’t win :)). Asheville packs a powerful beer punch for its size, and as some have wondered, I contend that most (all) of our civic leaders are aware of the Beer City contest and voted. It really is important to many people here.

    If voting is rigged in any way, I don’t know what advantage Asheville would have, especially considering that most of the other big beer cities are tech havens, and Asheville certainly is not. Neither is Asheville a college town. I suggest instead of tossing accusations of cheating, just congratulate Asheville and its wonderful beer culture!

    Seattle, Portland (in both OR and ME), San Diego, the Denver area, Bend, etc. all also have some fantastic beers, many of which I have enjoyed in those lovely cities. Perhaps the sheer size of some of the US city contenders and/or their proximity to other regional beer meccas detracts from earning votes. Who knows? I have also traveled all over Europe sampling the classic beer cities and beers, such as Bamburg, Munich, Brussels, London, Dublin, etc. It’s not just about the number of breweries (we will soon have 12 for a population of ~80,000) and the distribution of our beers — being Beer City USA is also about the overall beer culture — things like per capita homebrew stores, number of home brewers, beer festivals/events, beer tours, growth of breweries, local beer knowledge, craft beer selection in local restaurants/bars, beer aficionado groups, brewery mobile apps, media attention (like this contest), etc. And by those and other measures, Asheville truly is a great beer city — why not come by and check us out? Let’s kick back and enjoy a beer together!

  5. That is adorable. Unfortunately, statistics don’t lie, polls do. Seattle still consumes the most craft beer in the country and Portland still has the most breweries in the world, yes?

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