By Jason Notte
The Street

How beloved is the local brewpub as an American institution? So much that they're starting to be known as much for their food as their beer.

Brewpubs in this country have taken off in the past few decades since Prohibition largely destroyed brewpubs and taverns. That changed in 1992, when Scottish import Bert Grant opened Grant's Brewery Pub in a train depot in Yakima, Wash., to brew and promote his pale ale, IPA and Scottish Ale. Though it closed in 2005, Grant's brewpub gave early craft brewers a cheat sheet for getting their beer directly to drinkers without going through middlemen such as distributors, bars and liquor stores.

Last year, the number of brewers who made beer in their pub or restaurant grew by 60, to 1,063 nationwide. That's up from 1,020 in 2009 and made our recent look at the Top 10 brewpubs in America a tougher task than we realized. With beer lovers from nearly every state weighing in with stories from their local pubs, we decided to get back on the road and give the brewpub a broader look.

With brewers bringing in beer lovers and tourist dollars across the country, we consulted the wise editors and readers at beer rating sites BeerAdvocate and RateBeer for their take on the best American brewpubs. Using a secret blend of their ratings combined with our own travels, we've come up with a list of the best brewpubs in each state and Washington, D.C. While some states still have some catching up to do, places once known for their conservative beer habits are getting competitive with traditional beer states one beer flight and burger at a time:

Alabama
No brewpubs

While Alabama breweries such as Birmingham's Good People Brewing and Huntsville's Straight To Ale have great taprooms for sampling their wares, the state lacks a true brewpub. The state's Title 28 direct distribution law has a little something to do with that:

No manufacturer licensee shall sell any alcoholic beverages direct to any retailer or for consumption on the premises where sold, nor sell or deliver any such alcoholic beverages in other than original containers approved as to capacity by the board and in accordance with standards of fill prescribed by the U. S. Treasury Department, nor maintain or operate within the state any place or places, other than the place or places covered by the manufacturer license, where alcoholic beverages are sold or where orders are taken.

So long as that paragraph is in place, Alabama may as well be dry country for brewers who want to serve a burger or basket of chicken fingers with their beer.

For the complete list of
best beer pubs
state by state
go to
TheStreet.com.

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