The 'Official' Beer of Every State

Jason Hoffman/Thrillist
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist
Because America’s too big and beautiful to confine its birthday celebration to a single day, America Week keeps the party going the way the founding fathers (well, at least Franklin) would have wanted.

There are state birds. State fruits. State foods. But for some reason, the governmental bodies responsible for the important task of designating arbitrary "official" things have never gotten around to naming each state's official beers. We're here to help.

Picking the "official" beer of every state requires taking many variables into account. It has to have originated in the state. It has to be enjoyed by the citizens who live therein. Like migratory birds, it can be something you can only find during certain seasons. And it has to be widely available.

Are these the best beers brewed in every state? Some are, some aren't. But at the end of the day, they're the beers that best represent each of the 50 nifties... at least until some government officials gets around to these important legislative tasks.

Fruit beer, 4.5%
One of the first craft breweries in Alabama, a state with booze laws stickier than barbecue sauce, Gadsden’s eight-year-old Back Forty continues to produce some of the South’s best beer, including this smooth, easy-going wheat ale perfect for Sunday evening porch sipping. The smooth, semi-sweet brew is as mellow as it is delicious, with a frothy white head revealing a body stocked with a truckload of fresh juicy peaches, a fittingly floral nose, and a refreshingly dry finish with just a touch of lingering tartness. Step aside, sweet tea -- one of these frosty puppies is all you need to combat that brutal ‘Bama humidity. -- MH

Alaskan Amber
Flickr/Frank Kovalchek

Amber ale, 5.3%
It would be one thing to argue that Alaska’s namesake brewery is the only option for an official beer of the largest state in the country. It would be another when you consider that their Alaskan Amber beer makes it to more than a dozen states in the Lower 48, evangelizing the Last Frontier in bars across the country. But it would probably suffice to say that sitting down on a barstool in Sitka, Juneau, Anchorage, or Fairbanks just wouldn’t feel quite the same without a full-bodied, barely sweet, and smooth Amber in your hand. -- ZM

IPA, 6.7%
Four Peaks has been Arizona's craft brewery of choice for two decades now, and while its Scottish ales are beloved, nothing quite quenches the thirst on a hot Arizona day -- aka every single day -- like Hop Knot, which blends four hop varieties into a bitter, but not too bitter, IPA that can slay any aftereffects of a day in the sun. Or at least numb people to it. That's kind of the point. -- AK

Pale ale, 4.3%
With such a young brewing scene, few non macro beers have captured the hearts and minds of Arkansas quite like Ozark. The American Pale Ale splits the difference between macro and micro, a crisp, low-ABV beer that comes in cans, making it perfect for tailgating, camping, and crushing with wild abandon. It's a beer that provides hope for this burgeoning beer scene... and we hear Arkansas is totally into narratives involving the word "hope." -- AK

Pale ale, 5.6%
California has more breweries than any state, but none have captured the loyalty -- both in the Bear Republic and beyond -- quite like Sierra Nevada, which has a national stronghold on craft beer while remaining independent. The Pale is the go-to for almost anybody, the kind of beer you can find at small country markets and Ralph's alike, an old fallback that still tastes great every single time. Are there better beers? Sure... Sierra itself has a whole bunch of them. But there are no beers more omnipresent, regardless of if you're banging out a screenplay in LA, camping in the Sierras, or doing whatever the hell goes on in Coachella's parking lot. -- AK

Flickr/Frank Kovalchek

Colorado: Coors Banquet

American adjunct lager, 5%
Colorado's a state defined by its craft scene, and it's tempting to designate New Belgium as the official state beer for blazing that trail. But Coors blazed the trail before the craft scene took off, and let's be honest: You can get a great craft beer at any bar in Colorado. You can get a Coors at every single bar in Colorado, period. It's just everywhere, from the slopes to the dives. It's the Rockies in a can, and let's be honest: After a few heavy craft beers, it really hits the spot as a chaser. -- AK

Connecticut: New England G-Bot

DIPA, 8.8%
You know your brewery is doing something right when not two but *three* of the top contenders for your state's official beer roll out from your fermenters. New England Brewing Co. has solid hits that have won them their deserved reputation as one of the best in the region, with 668 Neighbor of the Beast (also one of the best names in the very competitive beer-joke name game) and Fuzzy Baby Ducks IPA (the cutest name in the very competitive cute-beer name game). But in the end, the honored title of Connecticut's flag bearer goes to the venerable G-Bot (formerly Gandhi Bot) DIPA, a bold, citrusy, aromatic hop bomb that always leaves you wanting more. -- ZM

IPA, 6%
Many of us from the Northeast will always remember Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA as one of their first cherished craft beers. In a time before hoppiness was everything, this East Coast IPA was able to set the bar for beer drinkers in a corner of the country that were still trying to figure out exactly what making innovative beer was all about. Nothing about that has changed, and Dogfish continues to innovate at a pace that does much to explain why they’re as widely adored as they are, but revisiting a fresh can of their most famous beer makes it easy to see why they represent Delaware. -- ZM

IPA, 7.5%
Despite the fact that no one can pronounce the name (whatever happened to it being the sport of the future, anyway?), there’s no mistaking that a fresh can of Jai Alai is one of the biggest head turners in the beer world. Tampa’s most famous brewery has firmly established itself in a state where temperatures practically beg for beer to be drunk as often as possible, and even though it’s tempting to crown the incredibly named (and labeled) Florida Man as the official beer of the Sunshine State, the flagship IPA is what has done more to put Florida beer on the map. -- ZM

Sweetgrass 420
Flickr/Zlatko Unger

Pale ale, 5.4%
It might tout itself as a West Coast-style pale, but Sweetwater’s provocatively named flagship is 100% Georgia. And despite racking up a plethora of big-time awards, this renowned session ale still knows how to keep it old school, satisfying hopheads and light lager fans alike with its pleasantly piney hop profile, clean, biscuity nose, and crispy finish flecked with a hint of caramel sweetness. It might not be as cool or cutting edge as Creature Comforts, sure, but after 20 years of dominating the South’s craft scene, rest assured it’s going nowhere. -- MH

Lager, 5.2%
The relative lack of great beer brewed in Hawaii whittles the state down pretty well, but even if there were hundreds, Maui would rise to the top of the swell. The Bikini Blonde is an essential, light, flavorful choice for a day on the beach, and not just because of the name. That it's available across the US to make people long for a vacation is just the icing on the cake, though its presence in beer buckets of tourists and locals alike firms it up as a solid choice for Hawaii's official local beer of choice. -- AK

Pale ale, 6%
Breweries like Payette and Crooked Fence are on the rise, but the original Idaho craft beer remains the drink of choice among beer lovers and those whose cooler plumb ran out of tallboys. Teton introduced the country to the growler, once the only way to transport this award-winning pale from its remote brewery. These days, it's everywhere, and blessedly so. -- AK

Imperial stout, 13.8%
Illinois beer fans and BCS have been through quite a bit, including a sale to AB InBev and a 2016 recall due to infected bottles from the previous year’s batch of the perpetually sought-after stout. And yet last Black Friday they were out in droves as large as ever to get their hands on the new release, because there’s still nothing quite like the bourbon-kissed, platonic ideal of a barrel-aged stout to get you through a harsh Midwest winter. -- ML

American pale ale, 6.67%
It was tempting to go with a different king for this selection (Sun King Osiris, specifically), because of the extent to which the Hoosier state has to share its 3 Floyds share with greedy Chicagoans across the border. But still, it’s undeniable what 3 Floyds has done to raise the profile of craft beer in Indiana, and it’s undeniable that Alpha King is the perfectly hopped pale ale that put them on the map. As the name suggests, there’s only one Alpha King. -- ML

American pale ale, 5.8%
Sure, the name comes from a massive T-Rex skeleton that was discovered in South Dakota and now resides at The Field Museum in Chicago, but the incredibly balanced, citra-hopped bite (get it?!) of this game-changing pale ale is all Iowa. -- ML

Buffalo Sweat
Flickr/Peter Anderson

Milk stout, 5%
Oh give me a home
Where the buffalo sweat
And the sweat tastes like a pitch perfect porter

Fine, it doesn’t rhyme. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t great. -- ML

English strong ale, 8.3%
Without Kentucky there wouldn’t be nearly enough spent bourbon barrels in circulation to keep up with our thirst for barrel-aged beers (or Scotch or Irish whiskey, but that’s another story). Luckily, Kentucky doesn’t give ALL those barrels away, and luckily it hangs on to some of them to give the world this delightfully bourbon-y strong ale. -- ML

Fruit lager, 4.2%
Abita Springs
Abita, the granddaddy of Louisiana's brewing scene, has a Harvest beer for each season, any of which could feasibly become the official beer. But it's strawberry that's the biggest cause for celebration, with fresh berries kissing a low-ABV wheat beer and transforming it from a great spring beer into the perfect spring beer... and Louisiana's best cure for the sweltering heat. -- AK

Witbier, 5.1%
There’s nothing easy about picking the official beer for one of the most quietly proud states in the country. Part of this is because there’s just so much damn good beer tucked into the Northeasternmost state in the country, but it’s also because the day-to-day life of a Mainer is one that begs for a very special kind of beer. Allagash White is one that has grown leaps and bounds beyond Vacationland, but is also still so very much at home where it was born: It’s as refreshing to sip by the fire after a ski run as it is on the beach with the sun on your back and seafood at hand. -- ZM

American adjunct lager, 4.3%
Various locations
OK, we know Baltimore-born Natty Boh is no longer brewed in Baltimore. Or even Maryland, for that matter. But when it came down to choosing a beer most emblematic of the Old Line State, anything else just felt... wrong. And that’s no disrespect to the excellent work of Stillwater or Heavy Seas or any of the other dozens of excellent Maryland breweries. It’s just an acknowledgement that Natty Boh remains as big a part of a Maryland summer as blue crabs and Old Bay (preferably all at the same time). -- ML

Sam Adams Boston Lager
Andy Kryza/Thrillist

Massachusetts: Sam Adams Boston Lager

Vienna lager, 4.9%
Would there be an America without Sam Adams and the Sons of Liberty? Would there be any Trillium or Tree House without the path paved by Jim Koch and The Boston Beer Company? Both are legitimate questions, which is why this feels like the only legitimate choice here. -- ML

Michigan: Bell's Oberon

Pale wheat, 5.8%
Michigan's bursting with great craft breweries, but nobody -- not Shorts, not Founders, not Jolly Pumpkin -- has achieved the kind of statewide cult love as Oberon. Sure, it's a summer beer, but its annual release sparks excitement from the Copper Harbor to Detroit. Citric, slightly sweet, and infinitely drinkable, it's basically a Michigan summer distilled into a bottle. And yeah, it goes equally well with pasties, coneys, and cherries. -- AK

Minnesota: Surly Furious

American IPA, 6.6%
Brooklyn Center
There’s an undeniable nostalgic temptation to go with Grain Belt here, but frankly, we’re too intimidated by Surly’s acerbic disposition to go in any other direction. Oh, and also, Surly’s tallboy cans of hop-packed aggression left an undeniable imprint on the beer scene in Minnesota (and nationally, quite frankly) that simply cannot be denied. That’s not the intimidation talking, we swear. -- ML

Stout, 4.7%

We know what you’re thinking: a stout? In Mississippi? While an ice-cold lager might seem like a more formidable opponent against the scorching Southern sun, this velvety crowd-pleaser -- produced by the state’s very first brewery -- is as Deep South as they come. Toasty, roasty, and chock full of earthy sweet potato goodness, this lactose-dosed Gulf Coast original rocks both a serious depth of flavor as well as a light, easy-drinking body. Pair a few bottles of this stuff with a couple of Mississippi-born hot tamales and you’re in for one hell of a firefly-lit night. -- MH

Missouri: Budweiser

American adjunct lager, 5%
St. Louis
If you thought we could make a list of official state beers and not include Budweiser, you’re playing yourself. Love it or hate it, you have to admit that these fire engine red bottles of uber-bubbly brew not only put Missouri on the map (sorry, Cards), they also defined the very taste of American beer. Budweiser is as official as official gets. -- MH

Moose Drool
Andy Kryza/Thrillist

Brown ale, 5.1%
The OG of Montana's surprisingly diverse brewing scene, Big Sky offers up a ton of solid contenders for official beer, from the beloved Big Sky IPA to the sweet Summer Honey. But Moose Drool takes the lead. It's everywhere under that big-ass sky. It's consistently delicious. And it has the most Montana name imaginable. It's also a rare brown that's equally great on a sunny day or sitting by a fire on a cool night. -- AK

Russian Imperial Stout, 11.3%
This Russian imperial stout and its many excellent variants was the first beer to make the beer community at large really take notice of Nebraska as a brewing state to be reckoned with. It’s also a really good song to blast with the windows down while cruising down a cornfield-lined highway. -- ML

Pale ale, 5.4%
Las Vegas
Technically, the official beer of Nevada is probably "whatever they give you for free as you pump quarters into the slots," but in terms of beer crafted in the state, Joseph James is making serious strides in distribution, becoming the de facto local craft beer across the state. And it's actually really, really great, as epitomized by the popular Citra Rye, a fruity, infinitely crushable pale that avoids being a hop bomb to emerge as a dry, refreshing antidote to the desert air. It also tastes great at the slots, but you probably have to actually buy it. -- AK

IPA, 6.9%
It figures that New England’s most misunderstood state would have some of the most low-key vital beer coming out of it. Portsmouth’s (and now Hampton's, too) finest, Smuttynose, has long played a vital role in the coming of age of local beer culture in New England, pumping out pilsners, porters, and pumpkin beers since the mid-'90s to the adulation of fans from Keene to Conway. Finestkind just happens to be the local innovation that catapulted this small brewery on the New Hampshire coast to regional fame, making Smutty synonymous with Granite State beer while opening the mind of local drinkers to new flavors and experiences. It rightfully remains a point of pride. -- ZM

New Jersey: Carton Boat Beer

Pale ale, 4.2%
Atlantic Highlands
It used to feel like the idea of going out for a beer in Jersey was something relegated to a Bruce Springsteen song lyric that you couldn’t quite remember all the exact words to. Then along comes a guy named Augie Carton who has dreams of opening a brewery in the Garden State, and as fate would have it, he has his way in succeeding in a way that shines brightly even in the crowded Northeast beer market. But the beauty of what he’s accomplished doesn’t lie solely in his ability to create elaborate beer recipes with seemingly minimal effort, but also that Boat Beer was born of his efforts. It’s as light, breezy, and refreshing as a summer afternoon on the Jersey Shore, but with enough hop bite to make it not quite your grandpa’s sipping beer. It’s uncomplicated, but it’s never a pushover. It’s popular, but it understands where it comes from... which is as Jersey as it gets. -- ZM

New Mexico: La Cumbre Elevated

IPA, 7.2%
New Mexico's best brewery's best beer is also the obvious choice here. It's a strong, 7.2% IPA that somehow, against all odds, tastes like a session beer, which is relatively dangerous. But if TV has taught us anything, it's that danger in the ABQ can pay off. At least until the final season. -- AK

Genesee Cream Ale
The Genesee Brewery

Cream ale, 5.1%
If you were to get in a car on 5th Avenue and drive four hours north of NYC into honest-to-goodness Upstate territory, grab a stool at a local bar, and order a New York beer, it’s almost impossible that the can put down in front of you wouldn’t be a Genny Cream Ale. The ultimate lawnmower beer that was most likely your grandfather’s favorite is popular for reason: It’s too approachable, refreshing, and easy to drink to leave anyone out from enjoying it. Even as the kitschy appeal of the old-school can has surged back into popularity everywhere from Montauk to Mesina, there’s no denying that what’s in the can solidly unifies a state that can be difficult to bring together under shared experiences. Especially after mowing the lawn. -- ZM

Pale ale, 6.1%
Anyone lucky enough to have spent time in the great state of North Carolina between the months of April and September is all too familiar with humidity that makes you feel like you’re stuck inside a giant’s swampy mouth. So, as they say, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em and embrace your fate with a few of Fullsteam’s aptly titled pale ales. Brewed with locally-sourced grains, it’s at once juicy, earthy, and slightly spicy, a blend of dank, resinous, and tropical hops swimming in an epically hazy body and topped with a thick white cap of foam. Nothing pairs better with a little backwoods banjo twang, a plate of fall-off-the-bone barbecue, and yes, a damp, sticky, summer night. -- MH

IPA, 6.7%
Fargo Brewing is the only choice here, largely because it's one of the only choices that's widely distributed. But it's also an excellent local IPA, crisp and hoppy and pretty tough at 6.7%. Also, the name helps elevate it to iconic status, dontcha know. Sorry. They made us do it. -- AK

Winter ale, 7.5%
Great Lakes is the brewery that put Cleveland on the path to becoming one America's best beer cities. And sure, it's a seasonal (if you don't like that call, go ahead and pretend we picked Eliot Ness), but the fact of the matter is that Christmas Ale has become as synonymous with holidays in Ohio as Ralphie shooting his eyes out. It's like a mirror image of Oberon in Michigan, a wintertime release basically everybody looks forward to, and everyone has a memory of. A hazy one, but a memory nonetheless. -- AK

Imperial stout, 13%
Oh, sure, you're probably not associating Oklahoma with big-ass, world-class beers. And yet here we are: Prairie BOMB! is the stuff of local legend, a thick, spicy, impossibly strong stout that has captured the imagination of everyone in Oklahoma not loyal to lite beer in tallboys. That's about, oh, 7% of the population, but in terms of Oklahoma-crafted beer, there's no beer in the state that's as equally beloved, whether drinking it is a way of life or a challenge issued to people who claim they "don’t like that fancy stuff." -- AK

Widmer Hefeweizen
Andy Kryza/Thrillist

Hefeweizen, 4.9%
It's hard to imagine something as straightforward as an unfiltered hefe ever being "daring," and yet when the Widmers released their trademark beer three decades ago that's exactly what it was, and it laid the groundwork for the nearly 300 breweries operating in the Beaver State to push themselves. It remains a solid offering: cloudy, refreshing, and loaded with citrus. These days, it's the de facto craft beer at bars across the state. The brewery's changed over the years, going national with corporate sponsorship. The Hefe hasn't. It's still a picture of Oregonian brewing, and an example for all in the state to follow. -- AK

Lager, 4.4%
It's not just the oldest brewery in America. It's a way of life in Pennsylvania, a fizzy yellow beer that's about as much a part of the Liberty State as cheesesteaks, expensive Amish furniture, and Rocky references. There are many better breweries, but it doesn't matter. Yuengling is Pennsylvania in a bottle.-- AK

Rhode Island: Narragansett Lager

Lager, 5%
You would think that of all the 50 states, picking a beer for Rhode Island would be one of the easiest because Narragansett is inextricably linked with the tiniest state there is. And even as non-New Englanders continue to struggle to pronounce it, the beer has boomed so much in popularity that it’s entering the upper echelons of successful regional lagers that help define where they come from (thanks in no small part to that often-cited Jaws cameo). The funny thing about all this is that until very recently... this beer wasn’t brewed in Rhode Island at all. Luckily for Little Rhody, though, production moved to Pawtucket in August of 2016, which means that their local pride is as homegrown as Del’s Lemonade and Dunkin' Donuts addictions. -- ZM

South Carolina: Westbrook Gose

Gose, 4%
Mount Pleasant
Nothing cuts through the hazy heat of a South Carolina summer like a cold can of this forgotten German-style sour turned "hot beer trend" turned mainstay on tap lists and store shelves everywhere. There’s a reason they ship so much of it to other states looking to do the same. -- ML

IPA, 6.5%
Spearfish's little brewery that could has been changing the way South Dakotans have been drinking since it opened its doors. It's the craft beer on tap (or in a bottle) in biker bars, rancher hangs, and everywhere in between... and once people get turned on by this straightforward, perfectly honed IPA, there's no looking back. -- AK

Tennessee: Yazoo Sue

Baltic porter, 9%
Memphis may be the city in Tennessee more renowned for smoking its meat (though don’t say that in Nashville), but this pioneering Music City brewery knocked it out of the park with this smoky take on a Baltic porter. Enjoy it with some ribs. Or literally anything else. -- ML

Shiner Bock
Flickr/Laura Taylor

Dark lager, 4.4%
It was either Shiner or Lone Star, a debate that's divided Texas for decades now. But we picked Shiner because it's just a more robust, delicious beer. And we wanted to piss off half of Texas. -- AK

Pale ale, 4%
Salt Lake City
Little known fact: One of America’s greatest booze towns is actually smack dab in the middle of Mormon country. That’s right -- Salt Lake City spilleth over with quality craft breweries and Uinta, with its 14 year history, commitment to environmentally friendly practices, and award-winning, predominantly sessionable fleet undoubtedly leads the pack. Eternally crushable, Cutthroat strikes a remarkably even balance between rich caramel and piney bitterness, making it the perfect compliment to everything from pasta salad at a church picnic to a après-ski sirloin enjoyed fireside. And at just 4% ABV, this brew totally owns Pie & Beer Day, SLC’s beloved all-day drinking (and pie eating) fest thrown each July on Pioneer Day, an annual Mormon holiday. -- MH

IIPA, 8%
How does anyone begin conversation about the complexity of the Vermont beer scene? Usually by bringing up the name "Heady Topper." At this point, even beer novices are familiar with the name, the tall, silver cans with their simple black label, and the beer road trips that it spawns for anyone looking to procure some of this precious, precious imperial IPA. Not that anyone in Vermont would gloat about this, though: They’re just happy you feel the same way they do about one of their state’s great prides. -- ZM

Virginia: Hardywood VIPA

IPA, 5.2%
An IPA brewed by two NYC expats might exactly scream Virginia, but the boys behind Hardywood went to great lengths to pack as much authenticity as possible into this brilliantly aromatic and thirst-quenching warm-weather sipper. A combination of locally harvested and malted two-row barley and Appalachian-grown hops bursting with bright tropical and tangerine-scented citrus notes gives this palate-friendly brew a multi-layered, perfectly balanced composition. The only way VIPA could be more Virginia is if it came with a tiny acoustic guitar and the tabs for "Ants Marching." -- MH

Fremont Summer Ale
Andy Kryza/Thrillist

Washington: Fremont Summer Ale

Summer ale, 5.2%
Summer in Washington is a hard-earned piece of heaven, the culmination of months of rain and cloud that makes all that SAD worth it. And when the clouds finally part, you're not reaching for a Rainier or Olympia -- the hipster tallboys du jour, which are no longer brewed in Washington -- you're grabbing a Summer Ale. Fremont's single-malt, single-hop bit perennial is your reward, the perfect beer for campsites, boat decks, and concerts. Savor it, like the summer, before it's a distant memory. The Rainier will be waiting for you when the skies turn grey again. -- AK

Irish dry stout, 4.1%
West Virginia doesn’t have a huge brewing culture to speak of. But it does have lots of coal. And this mighty fine take on an Irish stout. So it works. -- ML

Wisconsin: Miller High Life

American adjunct lager, 4.6%
It was REALLY tempting to go Spotted Cow here given New Glarus ubiquity and continued devotion to solely serving Wisconsin, but Wisconsinites have been pairing the Champagne of Beers with fish fries and tailgates and beer brats for generations. They still are. -- ML

Pale ale, 5.2%
There are a lot of things to be appreciative of in a state like Wyoming, so the fact that a lot of the beer coming out of there these days is world-class is just a nice bonus to all those mountain views and fresh air. Snake River’s Pale Ale stands out as a nice flag-baring beer for the state, not just because it comes from one of the best breweries in Wyoming (with arguably one of the best tasting room locales in the world), but also because it’s the kind of beer that you could enjoy with a view of the Tetons -- or on the trail in Yellowstone, or sitting at the lodge in Jackson Hole -- and feel like you’ve made one of the best decisions ever by having a beer. -- ZM

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The official beer in senior editor Andy Kryza's fridge is "on sale." Follow him @apkryza.

Deputy features editor Matt Lynch helped vote the bluegill as the state fish of Illinois in kindergarten. Ridicule his choice @mlynchchi.

Zach Mack is Thrillist's contributing beer writer, the owner of Alphabet City Beer Co. in NYC, a Certified Cicerone, and nothing else. Follow him @zmack.

Meredith Heil is a freelance writer based in New York. Follow her @mereditto.