Saturday, December 12, 2015

Smugness and Beer

In 1957, Rochester was officially declared "Smugtown."  In that year, Curt Gerling published his book entitled Smugtown U.S.A., a scathing commentary on the business and social life in Rochester during that era.

As a transplant from the BosWash corridor over 50 years later, my initial impression has been that any smugness in the Rochester region pales in comparison to that found along the East Coast.  Rochester seems to have done quite well in combining intelligence with down-to-earthness.

Yet there is one source which suggests that snobbery in the area is alive and well.  As the local beer scene has blossomed, it appears that snootiness has come along for the ride.  Here is a list of the Top Beer Snob cities (unclear if cities or metro areas), i.e. the locations with the highest percentage of bars and restaurants that do NOT serve Bud Light, Coors Light, or Miller Lite.  The top 10 are:

  • Bellingham, WA (92%)
  • Oakland, CA (89%)
  • Washington, DC (85%)
  • Sacramento, CA (83%)
  • Los Angeles, CA (81%)
  • San Francisco, CA (81%)
  • Pasadena, CA (80%)
  • Rochester, NY (79%)
  • Berkeley, CA (78%)
  • Louisville, KY (76%)    


  1. I think this speaks to our rich beer history rather than being snobby. We have a brewery that is the 6th or so largest brewery in the country (North American Breweries). They brew their own products (Genesee, Honey Brown, Dundee, etc.) along with brewing for other companies (Narragansett, they used to brew Sam Adams, etc.). They own Labatt USA which has historically been a strong beer here and they brew some of the Labatt products here. We also had some early microbrews that had a big impact (Rorhbach and Custom Brewcrafters). And now we have many other microbrews (a trend that is happening all across the country).

    We are also home to Constellation Brands which makes the 2 best selling imported beers in the US (Corona and Modelo Especial) and the best selling imported light beer (Corona Light). They just announced they are buying Ballast Point, a large micro brew in San Diego.

    It doesn’t surprise me that many folks buy beer made locally or made elsewhere by a local company.

    Rochester knows beer!

    1. I completely agree. Rochester's interest in beer has much more to do with its brewing history and the local population's desire to support certain entities rather than snobbery. I was just rolling with the title of the ranking.