In this Jan. 22, 2021, file photo, Ethan Wyman reaches for a beer the server left outside his heated, outdoor bubble at Rising Tide brewery in Portland. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

After many years of lagging behind Vermont, Maine now officially has the highest number of breweries per capita in the country.

As of 2021, Maine has one brewery for every 8,654 people. That’s 156 active breweries in total as of this year for 1,350,141 Mainers, according to the Maine Brewers Guild and the U.S. Census Bureau.

By contrast, Vermont has 72 active breweries, and a population of 623,347, for a total of one brewery for every 8,657 people — meaning the Pine Tree State has just edged out the Green Mountain State.

Just behind Maine and Vermont are states like Montana, Colorado and Oregon, the latter two of which have long-standing craft beer scenes that date back into the 1980s.

Maine’s numbers are unsurprising, given the explosive growth of the state’s craft beer industry in the past decade. In 2013, Maine had 35 registered breweries. Eight years later, that number is still growing. An economic impact study released in 2019 found that the beer industry and related activities contribute $2 billion to Maine’s economy each year and nearly 16,000 jobs.

“Maine’s position as the state with the most breweries per capita isn’t just a statistic – it’s representative of hundreds of Mainers who have pursued an entrepreneurial dream and shared their knowledge and expertise with their competitors that have followed,” said Sean Sullivan, executive director of the Maine Brewers Guild.

It is further indication that Maine has emerged as one of North America’s leading beer-making regions, attracting beer-lovers from all over the country and the world. Beer tourism in Maine has gone from a cottage industry to a major part of Maine’s overall tourism economy, with entire vacation packages designed around traveling to visit Maine’s breweries, which are scattered all over the state.

Correction: An earlier version of this report misstated the number of breweries operating in Maine.

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Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.