Note: Post has been updated.
Oregon Public Broadcasting has been reporting this interesting tidbit the last couple days:
I can't find the report, and after enticing us with that lede, OPB offers no support for the finding at all. With brewery openings happening as fast as they are, it would be hard to nail down this number--and that's if you could agree on what qualifies as a "brewery." (The Lucky Lab has two brewing locations and four pubs--do you count it as one, two, or four?) If some official body did award Oregon the laurel, bully for us. It would be another talking point for Beervana.
Oregon may have surpassed Vermont last year as the state with the most breweries per capita. That's one conclusion of a new report from Oregon's employment department.
A word of caution, though. The only reason to cite per capita numbers is to use them as a metric for something. Something we might call a "beeriness index," I presume. If you have a lot of breweries per capita, it follows, you must have great beeriness. This is partly a statistical illusion. Which is a more beery state, Idaho or California? Intuition tells you that the home of Firestone Walker, Sierra Nevada, Anchor, and Russian River probably bests the home of ... er, whatever. Idaho, it turns out, has about double the density of breweries per capita.
Looking at the lists of these things, what you find is that measuring breweries per capita makes states with small populations look especially grand. The seven most breweried states: Vermont, Oregon, Montana, Colorado, Maine, Wyoming, and Alaska--the 49th, 27th, 44th, 22nd, 41st, 50th, and 47th largest states. Or, put another way, for California to have the same density of breweries as Vermont, it would have to have 1,267 of them.
A beeriness index should include per capita numbers, but it those numbers don't begin to tell the whole story on their own.
Update. In comments, Greg points to the actual findings of the study, which are beyond dubious:
"In 2010, Oregon was ranked second by the Brewers Association for states' brewery per capita with 31,660 people for each brew pub. At that time, they counted 110 breweries. Using the 184 brewery and brew pub units from this analysis (units with or without employment) and the Population Research Center's 2011 Oregon population estimate, in 2011 there were just 20,965 Oregonians per brewery. That puts Oregon well above Vermont, the 2010 number one ranked state. In 2010, Vermont had 27,800 people per brewery. The Brewers Association has not published a 2011 ranking."It's bad enough that they compare Oregon's 2011 numbers with Vermont's from the year previous, but egregious over a period when the number of brewery openings exploded by 20-30%. Not only that, but they have used a statistic ("brewery and brew pub units") that is inconsistent with the way everyone else counts breweries. The Oregon Brewers Guild--the gold standard in these matters--says, "There are currently 120 brewing companies, operating 153 brewing facilities in 59 cities in Oregon."
I have no idea which state has the most breweries per capita. Neither does the Oregon Department of Employment.