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10 Best Beer States of 2011

7. Wisconsin
Number of breweries: 72
Capita per brewery: 78,986
Production in 2010: 4.8 million barrels
Consumed per capita in 2010: 26.3 gallons
The state roots on a first-place team named the Brewers, was the birthplace of iconic brands such as Pabst and is still home to not only the Miller cooling caves, museum and brewing facility, but MillerCoors' division offices. Combine that with a growing and increasingly vocal craft beer community and you have a state that's been a beer state since before the great-grandparents of University of Wisconsin freshmen were born.

Wisconsin residents drink the fifth-most beer per person in the U.S. and have the ninth-best ratio of residents per brewer in the country. Their commitment to Old World-style brewing is so great that Sprecher Brewing still adheres to the original German formulas, New Glarus brews in a facility that looks like an Alpine lodge nestled in the predominantly Swiss town of the same name and Miller still keeps Leinenkugel's "Leinie Lodge" facility intact after buying the brewer 23 years ago.

Why isn't Wisconsin ranked higher, then? Partly because of production that doesn't even crack the Top 10, but partly because of legislation passed this summer that protects Miller from A-B InBev encroachment that combines the brewer's permit and wholesale and retail licenses given out by municipalities into a single permit under state control and prohibits brewers from buying wholesale distributors. That's great for Miller, but just made life a whole lot more difficult for the more than 70 brewers in the state that aren't Miller who now have a much more difficult path to getting licenses and getting their product on shelves.

Wisconsin's total beer output grew only 0.2% during the past decade. Making life harder for most of your brewers for the sake of one doesn't seem like the best way to create growth.
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