Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Beer Distribution in the Region Around DC

Figure 1. A 100-mile radius around Washington, DC, includes VA, MD, DE, PA, and WV

I love sharing my passion for craft beer and touting the rich brewing traditions and the incredible variety of craft beer available in the region around Washington, DC.  In January, I published a Symbaloo Reference for Beer Lovers. Then in February, I shared a couple of references I had found: a Great New Beer Map, and the Seek-a-Brew Distribution Map.  

Using the Seek-a-Brew data (which may not be 100% current), I set out to make a Venn diagram to show where beer is distributed in my area of interest. I defined a list of states in a 100 mile radius around the Nation's Capitol (Figure 1). Moving counter-clockwise from DC, the list includes northern Virginia (VA), most of Maryland (MD), Delaware (DE), southern Pennsylvania (PA), and the panhandle of West Virginia (WV).

What I soon discovered surprised me. There are 31 different distribution combinations for the brewers who distribute their beers in these six areas. Keep in mind that laws concerning the distribution and sale of alcohol can vary widely across state and district borders. Also worth mentioning: the variations in demand will certainly open some areas of the market and leave others less desirable to brewers and distributors.  In any event, the idea of a simple Venn diagram went out the window in light of the data shown in the chart below (Figure 2).
Figure 2. This graph of Seek-a-Brew data shows the number of brewers who distribute their beer in the region

Notice that DC figures into the distribution of roughly half (114 of 240) of the brewers who distribute in this area. The other thing that jumps out is the variety available only in Pennsylvania. Over a third (70 of 196) of the beers distributed in PA are distributed only in that state. The list of 70 includes some brands (Hair of the Dog, Nebraska, Russian River) which are popular but hard to get (Table 1). Can you say, "Road Trip"?

Table 1. Distribution in Pennsylvania only

Talk about an embarrassment of riches! The DC area is now offering for sale at least some of the beers from 240 different brewers. Eighteen large brewers distribute to all 6 of the areas in the region (Table 2). 

Table 2. Brewers who distribute all six areas of the region


All of this wealth is based only on US brands of beer as reported in the Seek-a-Brew data. We haven't even looked at the imports yet! Think Canada, Mexico, all across Europe, and Asia. Here in DC, we have the world of beer at our fingertips!   Please enjoy, comment, and share this information--and promote DC as Beer Mecca!   

Prosit! Cheers! Salute! Slainte!