The Top 10 Beer Cities in America

Portland is the top beer city in America, Seattle is second, with San Francisco and San Diego not far behind. It’s a fact. Deal with it.

Everybody loves, or hates, a top 10 list, especially when it has to do with the top 10 beer cities in America. Lists are all the rage these days. That’s largely because of all the rage they incite these days. People get positively red-faced if their hometown is not on the list.

Most of these kinds of lists are simply based on someone’s opinion. Take it with a grain of salt and don’t let it boil your barleywine. Then again, some lists are based on real empirical evidence, like the list below.

The following cities lead the nation in terms of craft beer sales in grocery stores. These numbers come from Nielsen Scantrack and are based on the 52-week period ending on 12/27/14. In other words, 2014.

The numbers below represent the share of craft beer purchased in grocery stores as compared to non-craft beers. In other words, in Portland 43.3 percent of the beer purchase in grocery stores was craft beer. That is, craft beer enjoyed a 43.3 market share. The numbers are based on dollar sales, not volume.

As we reported some time ago, craft beer reached a new high last year, accounting for 11 percent market share nationwide. Craft beer obviously enjoys more popularity in urban centers.

Top Beer Cities


  1. PORTLAND, 43.3
  2. SEATTLE, 37.2
  3. SAN FRANCISCO, 34.0
  4. SAN DIEGO, 33.0
  5. SACRAMENTO, 31.5
  6. WASHINGTON D.C., 28.1
  7. CLEVELAND, 27.0
  8. ROCHESTER, 25.4
  10. GRAND RAPIDS, 25.2

Other impressive cities (runners up):

  • COLUMBUS, 23.8
  • DETROIT,  23.4
  • NEW YORK, 21.7
  • CINCINNATI, 20.3

States with impressive numbers:

  • VERMONT, 30.6
  • WISCONSIN, 25.1


  1. My next door neighbor is the assistant brewer at Naked City. The guy across the street pours at Maritime Pacific. If I stand on the sidewalk in front of my house and look left, I am 100 yards from Chuck’s. I pass Stroup, Rueben’s, and Maritime Pacific on my way to work. Hale’s is a half mile from work. Peddler is a little closer. Beer is the best thing about Seattle.

  2. The criterion you use here is a little unfair. Colorado law forbids the sale of beer over 3.2% ABV in grocery stores. So, craft beer CAN’T be sold in grocery stores there. I grew up there and went to college in Ft. Collins when brewers like New Belgium, O’Dells and Coopersmith’s were just starting out. Since then, I’ve lived in Boston, Washington, DC and now Tacoma, WA. I would put any of those cities on a top-10 list with Denver, Seattle, Portland and Bend. Any criterion that removes any of those cities from the list (except DC, which doesn’t really belong) deserves scepticism! (

    1. I did not use any criterion. I simply reported the results of the Nielson report. There are likely other places in the US that suffer from the same kind of problems as Denver. But, that’s not the point. The point is, look at how well craft beer is selling in grocery stores across America. Staging this as a Top 10 List was a parlor trick to get everyone’s attention, I admit. It worked.

      1. I’m not wrong about anything. I simply told you what the report said. I very clearly stated what this list was all about.

  3. You know that there are two Portlands right? Both of which have extensive and honorable histories in craft brewing. I suppose we can leave it to contention and let each respective Portland claim the title.

  4. Odd way to rank, thinks I. It seems to me the largest share of craft beer sales is at the source, or on tap at local pubs, not at the grocery store.

  5. Also interesting to note New York over 20%, but since this is based on sales dollars, not volume, I can’t help but think this has something to do with the outrageous markup both the distributors and retailers charge for craft beer here.

  6. Agree that it’s a very odd way to rank. I’m from Minneapolis and was surprised not to see my city rank at all, until I saw the methodology. Beer isn’t sold in grocery stores in Minnesota (except for 3.2 beer).

  7. You overstate your case. State laws vary regarding sales in grocery stores, as several comments have already pointed out.

    Also, “market share” does not equal “grocery store sales” even in Oregon since the market is actually quite a bit larger than that. I’d bet the numbers would be a bit smaller if sports venues, sports bars, and general menu restaurants and chain restaurants were included, don’t you?

    Congratulations on the click bait, though.

  8. Feeling a bit of a need to defend myself. I very clearly explained where this list came from and the methodology behind this “ranking.” I did not say any city was the best or the worst, I simply reported what the study said.

    Beyond that, I suppose my point was this. People are totally irrational and fanatical about lists like this. I actually stated that in the original post as well. Many of these comments, probably from people who did not read anything except the Top Ten part of the story, used the comments forum to prove my point.

    The headline, I admit, was click bait. That fact also proves my point.

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