In 2009, National Beer Examiner writer and Brewers Association President Charlie Papazian created the BeerCity USA poll. Designed to judge the strength of a city's beer community, the online poll drew thousands of voters to throw their support behind their hometowns and the brew culture therein. As you can imagine, Portland, Oregon, came out on top. But sharing first place with the beer mecca was the little mountain town of Asheville, North Carolina. WTF.
Then, in 2010 and 2011, Asheville won the title outright. Double WTF.
How is a town with nine tiny craft breweries and about as many inhabitants as the student population of ASU beating us, the sixth-largest city in the United States? The poll is completely unofficial, totally biased and worth nothing except bragging rights. But dammit if we don't want to win anyway.
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BeerCity USA isn't about the number of breweries, volume of craft beer sales or popularity of beers in other parts of the country. It's a measure of community support for those who make, drink and love craft beer within a particular city. We will admit that Phoenix has a way to go to become a true beer paradise, but there's plenty that makes us worthy of the title of BeerCity. Our established brewers continue to hone their craft and are putting out more of the kinds of beers people can get excited about, and there are several new breweries set to open within the next year. Our beer bars are staffed by beer geeks with knowledge of and excitement for the drinks they serve. We host a pair of the best beer fests in the country and have the largest association of homebrewers in the United States. The community of Valley beer lovers is widening and deepening every day.
The BeerCity poll opened May 1 and will close at midnight May 13. Vote for Phoenix here.
If Asheville can do it, we can.