What Beer Advocate’s “Low” ABV Beers Tell Us About Preference

abv excitement graphic JPGYou may recall from my state-by-state full list of Beer Advocate’s best 507 beers, I determined an average ABV of 8.1 percent, even if the best of the “best” beers clock in at an alcohol content much higher than that.

Even so, I wanted to see if there were any patterns to states that offered “best” beers below our national average. Specifically, I found even more correlation between what raters may consider a “good” beer when it comes to ABV.

I went through the entire list of all 507 beers by state, tallying for each state the number of beers at 8 percent ABV or less. Then, I applied those numbers side-by-side with Beer Advocate’s weighted rank. You can find the whole list here.

But what’s most important is again our top-25 vs. bottom-26. There is a very distinct difference between states with the highest WR of their top-10 best beers, which also have the fewest beers at or below 8 percent. First the lists, but you’re going to want to see the comparison below.


State WR Beers at or Below 8
California 4.563 4
Vermont 4.532 8
Florida 4.414 4
Iowa 4.404 6
Michigan 4.387 3
Illinois 4.362 2
Indiana 4.343 3
Ohio 4.327 4
Oregon 4.324 2
Texas 4.301 7
Connecticut 4.29 5
Colorado 4.289 3
Wisconsin 4.282 5
Massachusetts 4.28 5
Alaska 4.276 2
North Carolina 4.268 4
Minnesota 4.262 6
Missouri 4.236 2
Washington 4.201 7
Oklahoma 4.193 4
Maine 4.192 6
New Jersey 4.189 4
Virginia 4.178 4
New York 4.159 2
Pennsylvania 4.138 4
South Carolina 4.138 5
 Average: 4.289538462 4.269230769


State WR Beers at or Below 8
Delaware 4.121 3
Maryland 4.073 4
New Mexico 4.054 9
Wyoming 4.039 9
New Hampshire 4.036 2
Utah 3.989 2
Alabama 3.985 5
Georgia 3.975 4
Arizona 3.934 8
Kentucky 3.93 6
Kansas 3.906 9
Montana 3.891 8
Idaho 3.852 4
Nebraska 3.832 6
DC 3.828 9
Tennessee 3.782 9
Nevada 3.712 5
West Virginia 3.655 10
Hawaii 3.653 10
Louisiana 3.629 9
North Dakota 3.62 7
Rhode Island 3.615 10
Mississippi 3.573 8
South Dakota 3.529 10
Arkansas 3.5204 9
 Average: 3.829336 7

Here’s the stark contrast, with the average beers per state below 8 percent ABV:

WR Avg Beers At or Below 8 ABV
Top-25 4.29 4.27
Bottom-26 3.83 7

The average number of beers at or below 8 percent ABV for the entire list of 507 is 5.6 per state. There are 23 states in the country that have a total tally of beers above that number.

The top-25 states with the best collective WR only include six of those states. There are 17 states in the bottom-26 with six or more beers in their top-10 that are at or below 8 percent.

All this is to say – states with more beers at or below 8 percent ABV are typically ranked lower in their quality of beer by Beer Advocate raters.

But what about the best beers below 8.1 percent?

Pat of Pat’s Pints asked me in a previous post about any common characteristics across best beers with a “low” ABV.

From my list of the 51 best beers in the Union (one from each state and DC) I compiled this list of 15 beers which all have an ABV below the national average established by the 507 total beers. Here’s the list with what I could find online about their hop, grains and specialty ingredients. I couldn’t find out anything (easily) about two of them.

Aside from Citra hops appearing in a few of them, nothing really stood out. Six of the beers are IPAs, three are porters and have an assorted lot among the rest. Anything stand out to you?

One more post left in this series, where I’ll dump a few last pieces of data, including posing the question of whether income can impact any of these rankings…

+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac


5 thoughts on “What Beer Advocate’s “Low” ABV Beers Tell Us About Preference

  1. Reblogged this on Inky Beer and commented:
    I don’t think like this, but it shows many people do. I’m looking for flavor despite ABV.

  2. I agree there is not too much in common among the best of the low abv beers on your list. I will say that of the beers on that list that I’ve tried most are exceptionally good. I guess it just means there is no silver bullet or blueprint for making a lower abv elite beer.

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