Full disclaimer: I don’t watch football.
In preparation for this article, I honestly had to fire up an Internet search to find out which teams were playing this year.
Much to my happy surprise, the Super Bowl 50 matchup is between not only what I presume are the two best teams in professional football but also two of America’s richest craft beer meccas. So while I can’t wax endlessly about the merits of Cam Newton and Peyton Manning tossing around the ol’ pigskin, I can confidently recommend visiting both Denver and the Carolinas to sate your craft beer appetite.
But in the spirit of Sunday’s Super Bowl competition, which is the better locale for craft beer, Colorado or the Carolinas? Let’s look at how the statistics match up.
Denver’s home state of Colorado has long been a haven for craft beer enthusiasts. According to recent Brewers Association statistics, the state showcases 235 breweries inside its borders. That divides out to 6.1 breweries per every 100,000 drinking age adults. With stalwarts like New Belgium, Oskar Blues and Avery anchoring the craft beer scene, newer breweries like Upslope and Crooked Stave are continuing the rich local tradition. Craft breweries alone are responsible for a nearly $3 billion annual economic boost to the state economy. That number will surely continue to increase as the Colorado craft beer industry has seen an 86% surge in the number of breweries over the last four years.
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While South Carolina is experiencing a more recent boom in the craft beer scene, North Carolina’s Asheville is frequently in the discussion for the honorary title of “Craft Beer City, USA.” The two states combine for 132 breweries and an annual economic impact of over $1.6 billion according to Brewers Association data. Both states are on the rise, with a 76% brewery growth rate over the last four years. Standout homegrown facilities like Mount Pleasant’s Westbrook and Asheville’s Wicked Weed and Highland are creating innovative, sought after beer that keeps these states in the best-of ranks. Out-of-state breweries are also seeing the area’s potential and expanding here. Recently, Colorado’s Oskar Blues and New Belgium have joined Sierra Nevada by opening second facilities in the Carolinas.
While the home of the Panthers definitely racks up points for the quality and uniqueness of its output, the Broncos state has more breweries, production and economic impact on game day, enough to overwhelm this stiff competition.
Congrats to Colorado for winning the 2016 Super Bowl of craft brewing. The Carolinas fought hard, and their continued growth makes this a rivalry to keep watching and enjoying in the future.