The Best Beer from All 50 States

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With more than 4000 breweries in the U.S. alone, picking an absolute favorite beer can be an impossible challenge. In honor of National Drink Beer Day, we’re raising our glasses to them all—and sharing some of the country’s best brews.

1. ALABAMA // GOOD PEOPLE BREWING COMPANY

Location: Birmingham, Alabama

The good people at Good People sold their first keg of beer on July 4, 2008—and haven’t slowed down since. Their lineup, which include five year-round and four seasonal brews, leans heavily toward the IPA side, though fans of the brand tend to treat their Coffee Oatmeal Stout (a.k.a. C-O-S) like a dessert.

2. ALASKA // MIDNIGHT SUN BREWING COMPANY

Location: Anchorage, Alaska

You don’t have to travel to Anchorage to get a taste of what the city’s oldest brewery has to offer. Midnight Sun ships its beer—including its popular Deadly Sins series, which includes a Gluttony Triple IPA and a Belgian-style Pride Strong Ale—as far east as New York City.

3. ARIZONA // FOUR PEAKS BREWING COMPANY

Location: Tempe, Arizona

Trading in cows for hops, Four Peaks lives on what used to be the site of Tempe’s historic Borden Creamery. Though it’s an all-American kind of company, they’ve got a talent for perfecting international beer styles; Kilt Lifter, a malty, Scottish-style ale, is a particular standout.

4. ARKANSAS // OZARK BEER COMPANY

Location: Rogers, Arkansas

Officially founded in 2013, Ozark promotes itself as making “honest beer” for honest people—and they deliver on that statement. The brewery’s small but eclectic lineup is a reflection of its surroundings, with a session-brewed American Pale Ale that boasts notes of grapefruit and cut grass.

5. CALIFORNIA // RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING COMPANY

Location: Santa Rosa, California

When it comes to local beer, Californians are truly spoiled for choice. And the stuff they’re brewing up is some of America’s best, with brands like Arrogant Bastard, Firestone Walker, and AleSmith calling The Golden State home. But Russian River is doing things just a little bit differently. Based in Sonoma County, an area better known for its vino (the brewery used to be owned by Korbel), the company is using traditional winemaking processes to brew its barrel-aged beers, including Temptation, a sour blonde ale that’s aged in chardonnay barrels.

6. COLORADO // OSKAR BLUES BREWERY

Location: Longmont, Colorado


Oskar Blues Brewery

If beer were a popularity contest, Coors Light would take down most of its competition. But just because it’s the second most popular beer in America doesn’t mean that it’s the best Colorado has to offer. In Longmont, Colorado (about 35 miles north of Coors' home in Golden), Oskar Blues has been leading the craft-beer-in-a-can game since the early aughts—so much so that they recently opened satellite breweries in Brevard, North Carolina and Austin, Texas. And it all started with their signature beer, Dale’s Pale Ale, a strong pale ale that goes anywhere a can can.

7. CONNECTICUT // NEW ENGLAND BREWING CO.

Location: Woodbridge, Connecticut

New England Brewing Co. favors simplicity above all else, as evidenced by their slogan: “Drink it. It’s good.” They take a similarly straightforward approach with their menu of canned craft beers, with their G-Bot, an intense Double IPA, being one of their most sought-after brews.

8. DELAWARE // DOGFISH HEAD CRAFT BREWED ALES

Location: Milton, Delaware

Like the little brewery that could, Dogfish Head has parlayed what it calls its “off-centered ales for off-centered people” into a nationwide obsession. While their 90 Minute IPA is a go-to choice for heavy hops lovers, it’s the brand’s frequent pop culture collaborations—like Bitches Brew, the iconic Imperial Stout they created in honor of the 40th anniversary of Miles Davis’ album of the same name—that have gained Dogfish an obsessive following.

9. FLORIDA // FUNKY BUDDHA BREWERY

Location: Oakland Park, Florida


Funky Buddha

Founded in 2010, Funky Buddha is still a relative newcomer. But they’re changing the craft beer game in South Florida by taking a culinary approach to beer-making, as evidenced by seasonal varietals like Blueberry Cobbler Ale, More Moro Blood Orange IPA, and Sweet Potato Casserole Strong Ale.

10. GEORGIA // CREATURE COMFORTS BREWING COMPANY

Location: Athens, Georgia

The Creature Comforts brand is “driven by the promise that a curious mind leads to better living.” Which also leads to better beer. According to BeerAdvocate, four of Georgia’s five best beers are coming out of the Athens-based brewery.

11. HAWAII // MAUI BREWING CO.

Location:  Lahaina, Hawaii

Founded in 2005, Maui Brewing Co. takes much of its inspiration—and some of its ingredients—from its enviable surroundings, resulting in smooth brews like the floral Bikini Blonde Lager and the toasty CoCoNut PorTeR.

12. IDAHO // GRAND TETON BREWING COMPANY

Location: Victor, Idaho

At the base of the Tetons, Grand Teton has been welcoming thirsty travelers to its brewery for nearly 30 years. Whether you’re prone to a signature brew like Old Faithful Ale, a seasonal Trout Hop Black IPA, or a cellar reserve like Double Vision Doppelbock, the company swears its difference is in the glacial run-off water it uses in its brewing process.

13. ILLINOIS // GOOSE ISLAND BEER COMPANY

Goose Island's India Pale Ale
Scott Olson, Getty Images

Location: Chicago, Illinois

It says something about Goose Island that, nearly a quarter-century after pioneering the concept of bourbon-aged beer, their annual Black Friday release of (very limited) Bourbon County Brand Stouts is still one of the beer world’s most exciting events, with imbibers standing in line for hours to get their hands on a single four-pack.

14. INDIANA // 3 FLOYDS BREWING CO.

Location: Munster, Indiana

Leaving “normal” to its fellow brewers, 3 Floyds’ focus is on crafting unique, artisanal-minded beers like the well-rounded, Scottish-style Robert the Bruce ale—or its barrel-aged, star anise-tinged version of that, Spazzerack! 

15. IOWA // TOPPLING GOLIATH BREWING COMPANY

Location: Decorah, Iowa

In 2009, Toppling Goliath founders Clark and Barb Lewey made the leap from experimental home brewers to official ones. Their beers—including their flagship Dorothy’s New World Lager, a California Common lager—are distributed throughout northeast Iowa and southwestern Wisconsin.

16. KANSAS // FREE STATE BREWING COMPANY

Location: Lawrence, Kansas

When Free State opened in 1989, it became the first legal brewery to open in Kansas in more than a century. They’ve taken that distinction seriously, crafting a unique lineup of draft and bottled beers, like the Old Backus Barleywine Ale, which only gets better with age.

17. KENTUCKY // AGAINST THE GRAIN BREWERY & SMOKEHOUSE

Location: Louisville, Kentucky

Against the Grain isn’t kidding about its name. In the less than five years they’ve been in business, the beloved brewpub and smokehouse has concocted hundreds of beers that are as unique in name as they are in flavor: In addition to three varietals of 5 Roses: A Rick Astley Joint, there’s Wilford Whimley, Instant Placation Libation, Sho’nuff, and Marty McFly P.A.

18. LOUISIANA // PARISH BREWING COMPANY

Location: Broussard, Louisiana

Embracing its roots, Parish Brewing mixes old-school brewing techniques with local ingredients to produce small batches of Cajun Country ales, like Canebrake, its golden Louisiana wheat ale brewed with Steen’s sugarcane syrup.

19. MAINE // MAINE BEER COMPANY

Location: Freeport, Maine

Beer. It’s what’s for dinner at Maine Beer Company. After finding great success with Lunch, a pine-tinged IPA in 2011, the company launched Dinner, its first Double IPA, in 2014. The beer, which garnered a perfect 100 score with BeerAdvocate, isn’t easy to get your hands on; subsequent brewery-only releases of the ale have sold out in hours.

20. MARYLAND // UNION CRAFT BREWING COMPANY

Location: Baltimore, Maryland

The best way to get your Union Craft fix is straight from the tap room, where the brewery makes a community event out of beer-tasting. And they’ve succeeded in making their brews approachable, with a year-round supply of Baltimore-focused canned brews, like the hop-heavy Duckpin Pale Ale.

21. MASSACHUSETTS // TREE HOUSE BREWING COMPANY

Location: Monson, Massachusetts

In a small red barn in the tiny town of Monson, Massachusetts, there’s a huge beer thing happening. In just five short years, Tree House Brewing has managed to take the craft beer world by storm with its small-batch, well water-crafted ales, like the chocolate-covered maple candy-like Good Morning and the That’s What She Said Milk Stout.

22. MICHIGAN // FOUNDERS BREWING CO.

Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

“We don’t brew beer for the masses” is the mandate at Founders, winners of six World Beer Cup, four European Beer Star, and three Great American Beer Festival medals. Let that sink in over a cold bottle of Founders Imperial Stout.

23. MINNESOTA // SURLY BREWING COMPANY

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

In 2011, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed what came to be known as the “Surly bill” into law, which essentially made it possible for Surly to serve its beer on site. Beer lovers everywhere rejoiced. And the brand has continued to expand its offerings—and distribution chain—with brews like CynicAle, Abrasive, Hell, and Overrated!

24. MISSISSIPPI // SOUTHERN PROHIBITION BREWING

Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi

With beers like Jack the Sipper, Mississippi Fire Ant, and Pow! Rye in the Kisser, Southern Prohibition is upping the craft can game by mixing cool art, fun names, and easily drinkable brews.

25. MISSOURI // PERENNIAL ARTISAN ALES

Location: St. Louis, Missouri

Founded in 2011, Perennial is a microbrewery created with the “adventurous craft beer drinker in mind.” The company sources local, seasonal, and organic ingredients to create its menu of handcrafted, small-batch beers, including its barrel-aged Abraxas Imperial Stout, with hints of cacao nibs, vanilla beans, ancho chiles, and cinnamon.

26. MONTANA // BIG SKY BREWING CO.

Location: Missoula, Montana

Big Sky Brewing began life, at least conceptually, as a public access TV show called Beer Talk. From there, the idea morphed into a draft-only brewery, and now a full-scale brewery that produces about 50,000 barrels of the sudsy stuff per year, each name (like Pygmy Owl Itty Bitty IPA and Moose Drool Brown Ale) a nod to the nature that surrounds the brewery.

27. NEBRASKA // NEBRASKA BREWING COMPANY

Location: La Vista, Nebraska

After years of experimental home-brewing, Paul and Kim Kavulak opened the doors to the Nebraska Brewing Company brewpub in 2007. In the years since, they’ve set the standard for brewing in the Cornhusker State, with more than a dozen canned craft, reserve bottle, limited-edition barrel-aged, and seasonal brews, including 311 Amber Ale, which they created in collaboration with the Omaha-founded rockers of 311. 

28. NEVADA // BIG DOG’S BREWING CO.

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

In the midst of Sin City, Big Dog has been brewing up some truly creative, small-batch beers—like the bold War Dog Imperial IPA and rich Black Lab Stout—for nearly 25 years.

29. NEW HAMPSHIRE // SMUTTYNOSE BREWING COMPANY

Location: Hampton, New Hampshire

Named for Smuttynose Island, Smuttynose Brewing is bringing a taste of The Granite State to seemingly every corner of the world. Their more than two dozen varieties of year-round, seasonal, and large-format bottled beers—including the award-winning Baltic Porter and Wheat Wine Ale—are available in more than two dozen states across the country, plus parts of Europe and Asia.

30. NEW JERSEY // KANE BREWING COMPANY

Location: Ocean, New Jersey

On the coast of New Jersey, Kane is a relative newcomer, but they’ve made a pretty big impact in their five years in business. Particularly with their Corked & Caged beers, a complex collection of small-batch beers in large format bottles, like the local wildflower honey-brewed Apiary saison.

31. NEW MEXICO // LA CUMBRE BREWING COMPANY

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

La Cumbre doesn’t have the unlimited advertising budget of its mass-produced colleagues—and they’re OK with that. They’d much rather devote their resources to finding the best ingredients, and giving their brewers the time they need to perfect each drop of beer produced. La Cumbre’s penchant for classic beer styles shows in its Elevated IPA, A Slice of Hefen Bavarian-style wheat beer, and Red Ryeot.

32. NEW YORK // EVIL TWIN BREWING

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Evil Twin Brewing

With nearly 250 breweries statewide, the competition to be one of New York’s finest isn’t easy. But Evil Twin has been making a quick run for that title since first launching in 2010. Originating in Denmark, the brand made the jump across the pond to a spot in Brooklyn a few years back and has been amping up production ever since. In 2012, they launched more than 40 different beers. And today, you can find them in more than 40 different countries (not to mention top restaurants around the world like Momofuku Ko and Eleven Madison). And if you believe what BeerAdvocate says, three of New York’s 10 best beers come from Evil Twin—including the first and second spots, which belong to Imperial Biscotti Break Bourbon Barrel Aged and Evil Twin Double Barrel Jesus, respectively.

33. NORTH CAROLINA // FOOTHILLS BREWING

Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Because freshness matters, Foothills does much of its business in the Southeast. It’s here that you’ll find a major demand for the brewer’s creative handcrafted concoctions, especially its seasonal brews like Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout. (Its year-round Jade IPA is also a popular choice for its peppery finish.)

34. NORTH DAKOTA // FARGO BREWING COMPANY

Location: Fargo, North Dakota

The good news: As one might hope, the folks at Fargo Brewing couldn’t resist a small nod to the Coen brothers’ movie. They swear that they’d “give our left foot for another pint” of their Wood Chipper IPA. The bad news: You’ll have to make your way to the Great Plains to taste it.

35. OHIO // FAT HEAD’S BREWERY

Location: North Olmsted, Ohio

Before becoming one of Ohio’s most acclaimed breweries, Fat Head’s got its start on the South Side of Pittsburgh. In 2009, the brand teamed up with brewer Matt Cole and made the move to Ohio. Early acclaim for their uniquely crafted collection of formats—from German-style lagers to fruit beers—led to a quick expansion and the brand now boasts locations in Pittsburgh, Portland, Oregon, and North Olmsted and Cleveland, Ohio.

36. OKLAHOMA //  PRAIRIE ARTISAN ALES

Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma

The brainchild of two suds-loving brothers, Prairie Ales was founded as a self-funded endeavor in 2012. Since then, the duo has experimented with all sorts of amazing ingredients and types of beers, and has received unprecedented acclaim for what they’re doing. All but one of BeerAdvocate’s picks for the 10 best Oklahoma brews belong to Prairie Ales, with four of their BOMB! Imperial Stouts topping the list.

37. OREGON // DESCHUTES BREWERY

Location: Bend, Oregon

Founded as a brewpub in 1988, Deschutes’ main focus has always been on quality over quantity, but they’ve been fortunate enough to find both. More than a quarter-century later, the brand is still evolving. Their beers, including a Black Butte Porter and Mirror Pond Pale Ale, can be purchased in most cities across the country. And Deschutes isn’t done yet: They recently announced that they’ll be opening an east coast brewery in Roanoke, Virginia.

38. PENNSYLVANIA // VOODOO BREWERY

Location: Meadville, Pennsylvania

Voodoo Brewery has been producing some of the country’s quirkiest microbrews for than a decade, and the beer world has taken notice. Their Big Black Voodoo Daddy Imperial Stout took home a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival.

39. RHODE ISLAND // PROCLAMATION ALE COMPANY

Location: West Kingston, Rhode Island

The smallest state is packing some big beer flavor with Proclamation Ale, which was founded by Dave Witham in 2014. And his impact was felt pretty much immediately, with a lot of love being shown for his unique brews, including Derivative: Galaxy.

40. SOUTH CAROLINA // WESTBROOK BREWING COMPANY

Location: Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina

Westbrook defines its mission this way: “to make the most interesting, drinkable, and generally awesome beer possible.” Always game to experiment with new ingredients and brewing techniques, it’s clear from their lineup of beers—like Poppin’ Pils, Weisse Weisse Baby, and Shane’s Big DIPA—that these brewers are having fun.

41. SOUTH DAKOTA // CROW PEAK BREWING

Location: Spearfish, South Dakota

Founded in 2007, Crow Peak says that it’s been “crafting South Dakota’s beer culture” with its rich brews, including a Pile O’ Dirt Porter and Canyon Cream Ale.

42. TENNESSEE // WISEACRE BREWING CO.

Location: Memphis, Tennessee

Wiseacre is the product of brothers Davin and Kellan Bartosch’s longtime fascination with great beer (they count the time they stole their parents’ rental car and drove to Boston’s Sam Adams Brewery in 1997 as a formative part of their journey to Wiseacre). Their fun-loving attitude carries over to their cans of beers, which boast creative names and packaging, like the Gotta Get Up to Get Down Coffee Milk Stout.

43. TEXAS // JESTER KING BREWERY

Location: Austin, Texas

Fans of Jester King have learned to expect the unexpected from this farmhouse brewery that uses well water, local grains, and native wild yeast in their brewing process.

44. UTAH / UINTA BREWING CO.

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Founded in a former mechanic’s garage in 1993, it didn’t take long for Uinta’s reputation within the industry to grow. By 2001, they had outgrown their space, and were able to customize a 26,000 square foot brewery that allowed them to maximize production of their Utah-inspired brews, like their flagship Cutthroat Pale Ale, which is named after the official state fish (the Bonneville cutthroat trout).

45. VERMONT // THE ALCHEMIST

Location: Waterbury, Vermont

One of the smallest operations on this list, The Alchemist is a tiny, family-run brewery that specializes in one beer: Heady Topper, an unfiltered, American Double IPA.

46. VIRGINIA // HARDYWOOD PARK CRAFT BREWERY

Location: Richmond, Virginia

Founded in 2011, Hardywood’s dedication to crafting truly unique beverages didn’t go unnoticed by beer lovers. Five years after the company’s founding, Hardywood has already won a slew of awards for its naturally conditioned, unpasteurized, and unfiltered lineup of beers, including a few more experimental beverages, like its top-rated, bourbon barrel-aged Hardywood Foolery Milk Stout. Hardywood was also recently named Virginia’s Top Brewer by RateBeer.

47. WASHINGTON // FREMONT BREWING COMPANY

Location: Seattle, Washington

“Sustainability” is the key word at Fremont, Seattle’s seven-year-old, small-batch brewery that promotes “activism through beer.” Which means that they conserve energy as much as possible in the brewing process and implement various zero-waste production processes. They also source a variety of local ingredients, both toward that cause and as a way to give back to the community. All of which makes for a collection of award-winning beers, like the Cowiche Canyon Fresh Hop Ale, which Men’s Journal recently named one of the 101 Best Beers in America.

48. WEST VIRGINIA // MOUNTAIN STATE BREWING CO.

Location: Thomas, West Virginia

Mountain State is “West Virginia born and brewed”—and proud of it! As one of West Virginia's oldest microbreweries and tap rooms, the company is doing its part to make a name for the state on the beer scene, and they’re succeeding. Brews like Cold Trail Blonde Ale, Almost Heaven Amber Ale, and Miner’s Daughter Stout are complex yet approachable for even newbie microbrew drinkers.

49. WISCONSIN // CENTRAL WATERS BREWING COMPANY

Location: Amherst, Wisconsin

Central Waters may not be the only brewery to hop on the barrel-aging bandwagon, but they're clearly doing something right. Special, brewery-only releases have resulted in long lines and quick sellouts—and even an uptick in the local tourism industry. In January, the Stevens Point Journal wrote that “Like any rock star worth its froth, these beers attract dedicated fans with some making seven-hour drives, others booking flights and reserving so many hotel rooms that folks at the nearby Stevens Point Area Convention and Visitors Bureau have noticed a coinciding spike in occupancy rates.” Who knew beer could be good for business?

50. WYOMING // SNAKE RIVER BREWING

Location: Jackson, Wyoming

Snake River may be Wyoming’s oldest brewery, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not open to change. In 2011, after nearly 20 years of bottling their beer, they made the (eco)conscious decision to switch to cans. Their dedication to the environment goes even beyond that; in 2006, they received USDA Organic Certification for their OB-1 (Organic Beer Number 1), a brown ale made from all-organic malt and hops. That’s what we call responsible consumption.

10 Terrifyingly Huge Birds You Should Know

AndreaWillmore/iStock via Getty Images
AndreaWillmore/iStock via Getty Images

They’re gigantic, they’re often defensive, and you wouldn’t want to run into them in a zoo after hours. Meet a few of the world’s biggest birds with attitude, from flightless giants to modern-day pterodactyls.

1. Ostrich

Everyone knows that the ostrich is the world’s biggest bird, weighing an average of 230 pounds and standing 7 feet tall (and some individuals can grow up to 9 feet). They can also chase you down: Ostriches are the fastest species on two legs, with a top speed of about 43 mph. They can maintain a swift 30 mph pace for 10 miles, making them the marathon champs of the avian world.

2. Southern Cassowary

Often called the most dangerous bird on Earth, in addition to being one of the planet’s biggest birds, the southern cassowary is roughly 150 pounds of mean. On each foot is a 5-inch claw that cassowaries use to defend themselves. At least two people have been kicked to death by cassowaries, the most recent being a Florida man who unwisely kept one of the birds as a pet.

3. Emu

Emu with eggs
JohnCarnemolla/iStock via Getty Images

Like a smaller, shaggier ostrich, the 5- to 6-foot emu is the second-largest bird on Earth (as well as a goofy spokesbird for insurance). During the breeding season, female emus fight enthusiastically over unattached males. But the results of this mating ritual are impressive: clutches of forest-green, oval eggs that resemble giant avocados.

4. Greater Rhea

This flightless bird is named for the Titan goddess Rhea, who gave birth to all of the Olympian gods and goddesses in Greek mythology. At up to 5 feet tall and 66 pounds, the greater rhea may not seem like as much of a terror as the ostrich. But it gathers in massive flocks of up to 100 birds during the non-breeding season, so watch out if you happen to be in its South American habitat.

5. Dalmatian Pelican

Dalmatian pelicans
musicinside/iStock via Getty Images

How scary can a pelican be, you ask? When it stands almost 6 feet tall, weighs 33 pounds, and has a wingspan of 9 feet—all traits of the Dalmatian pelican—it's pretty petrifying. These scruffy-feathered monsters, native to Europe and Asia, breed in colonies of up to 250 pairs and can gulp impressive mouthfuls of fish in one go.

6. Mute Swan

One of the heaviest flying birds, mute swans look harmless as they glide over ponds, lakes, and rivers. But mute swans are far from silent when defending their families and territory. Male swans warn interlopers that they’re getting too close with a hiss, then can launch a straight-up assault, bashing the intruder with their wings. They’ll even attack kayakers, canoeists, and people just minding their own business.

7. Andean Condor

Andean condor
Donyanedomam/iStock via Getty Images

This freakishly big vulture isn’t satisfied with just any carrion—it prefers large carcasses like cattle and deer for dinner. Maintaining its average weight of 25 pounds requires a lot of calories, after all. Its wingspan is slightly less than its northern cousin, the California condor, but it still reaches a dramatic 9 to 10 feet.

8. Cinereous Vulture

Another big bird with a 10-foot wingspan, this Old World vulture has excellent vision to spot carrion while it flies, and a featherless head that resists the accumulation of gore when it feeds. Though it’s intimidating to look at, the cinereous vulture plays an important role in its ecosystem by cleaning up roadkill and other dead animals.

9. Marabou Stork

Marabou stork
Sander Meertins/iStock via Getty Images

As if its red-tinged wattle, black back, and dagger-esque bill weren’t alarming enough, the marabou stork is sometimes called the “undertaker bird” thanks to its Dracula-like appearance. It also eats other birds. The largest verified wingspan on a marabou stork measured 10.5 feet, though unverified reports cited a specimen with 13.3-foot span.

10. Shoebill

Shoebill storks may not be the tallest, heaviest, or widest-winged birds, but just look at that death stare. On top of having a nutcracker for a face, the 5-foot-tall shoebill leads a fearsome lifestyle. It stands absolutely still for hours to hunt prey, watching for lungfish or baby crocodiles, then spreads its wings and collapses over it while trapping the target in its bill.

10 Dramatic Downton Abbey Fan Theories

Jim Carter as Mr. Carson in Downton Abbey (2019).
Jim Carter as Mr. Carson in Downton Abbey (2019).
Focus Features

Despite its exhaustively polished veneer, Downton Abbey was always a soap opera. Julian Fellowes's historical drama about a family of aristocrats and their many servants could never resist a good shocker, and it deployed plenty of them over the course of six seasons. The valet was suspected of murder (twice). One of the Crawley sisters got knocked up by her older married boyfriend, who promptly went missing. And another sister’s first sexual encounter ended in death. Considering all this, it should come as no surprise that fans have developed similarly wacky theories about the show. These fan theories include secret parentage, undercover spies, and, of course, poison.

Brush up on the best of them before the Downton Abbey movie hits theaters—just in case the whole miscarriage curse comes up.

1. Mr. Carson is Lady Mary’s father.

This theory all comes down to eyes. As you may recall from science class, certain genes are dominant and others are recessive. This is perhaps most easily understood through eye color, where brown eye color, a dominant gene, is expressed as BB and blue eye color, a recessive gene, is expressed as bb. A parent with brown eyes might carry the recessive blue eye gene (i.e. Bb), but if you plot out genetic probabilities on a basic Punnett square, two blue-eyed parents with double bbs have seemingly no shot at producing a Bb baby. Now, what does any of this have to do with Downton Abbey? Both Lord and Lady Grantham have blue eyes, but their eldest daughter, Mary, has brown eyes. This has led some fans to speculate that Lady Mary is actually the daughter of Carson, the family’s beloved butler who has always acted as as sort of second father to Mary. As debunkers have noted, two blue-eyed people can have a brown-eyed child, because recessive genes aren’t that simple. But isn’t it wild to think of Carson and Cora having an affair?

2. Thomas Barrow poisoned Kemal Pamuk.

One of the soapiest subplots of Downton Abbey's first season involved “poor Mr. Pamuk,” the dashing Turkish diplomat who makes a fateful visit to the Abbey. After enjoying a day of fox hunting and an evening of sparkling conversation, Kemal Pamuk drops dead ... right in Lady Mary’s bed. The cause, it is later revealed, was a heart attack, but many viewers suspected something more sinister. Earlier in the episode, the Crawleys’ closeted footman, Thomas Barrow, made a pass at Pamuk, which the diplomat rejected quite forcefully—so much so that he threatened to get Thomas fired. That placed the footman in a tricky situation, but it was nothing a little poison couldn't fix, and that’s exactly why some fans believe Thomas slipped something into Mr. Pamuk’s dinner.

3. Lady Grantham’s miscarriage started a curse.

In the Season 1 finale, tragedy strikes. The newly pregnant Lady Grantham slips on a bar of soap, falling onto the bathroom tiles and inducing a miscarriage. It’s a sad moment, but it’s also, Reddit claims, the source of the house’s future misfortune. According to this theory, the miscarriage kicks off a curse of deadly pregnancies: Lady Sybil dies in childbirth; Matthew Crawley dies in a car accident soon after the birth of his son; and when the maid Ethel Parks becomes pregnant with Major Bryant’s child, he dies, too.

4. Mr. Bates is actually a bad guy.

Brendan Coyle and Joanne Froggatt in Downton Abbey (2019).
Brendan Coyle and Joanne Froggatt in Downton Abbey (2019).
Focus Features

Downton Abbey invests a lot of time and effort in convincing us that John Bates, Lord Grantham's trusty, is a great guy—despite his checkered past and multiple murder allegations. But what if everyone’s assumptions about Bates are exactly right? Some Redditors believe Bates is just a remorseless serial killer, pointing to his intense hatred of his first wife and “creepy vibes” as evidence. Anna had better watch out.

5. Michael Gregson is a spy.

Lady Edith’s boss and lover Michael Gregson is the publisher of a London magazine, The Sketch. Thanks to his job, he knows tons of important people, travels all over the world, and speaks multiple languages. He eventually disappears inside Germany in season 4, and later dispatches to the Crawley family imply that he was a victim of Adolf Hitler’s “thugs.” (The show timeline places Gregson in Munich right around the time of the Beer Hall Putsch.) Or at least, that’s the official story. Another one suggests that Gregson was a British spy gathering intel on the insurgent Nazis—and he might not have died at all. His superiors simply needed to feed Edith a lie that would discourage her from poking around, so they made up a cover story that someone who follows the news would believe.

6. Lady Rosamund Painswick is Lady Edith’s mother.

When Lady Edith becomes pregnant with Michael Gregson’s child, she finds a strong support system in her aunt, Lady Rosamund Painswick. Upon learning Edith’s secret, Rosamund travels to Downton Abbey to help her niece through her pregnancy, and suggests adoption options as the due date draws near. Some fans have interpreted this empathy as a clue that Rosamund, not Lady Grantham, is Edith’s true mother. It could also explain why Edith looks (and behaves) so different from her sisters. Or it could just be a sign that Rosamund cares about her niece.

7. Lady Mary’s “operation” was IVF.

In season 3, Lady Mary claims to have undergone a “small operation” that will help her start a family with Matthew. It’s maddeningly unclear what this operation entails, but one wild guess is that she had an early version of IVF. The complete crackpot theory is that this was a cover for Matthew’s infertility, which the doctors wouldn’t disclose to him, presumably to preserve his 1920s masculinity.

8. Lady Mary’s son George becomes a Royal Air Force pilot in World War II.

Lady Mary’s son George is only five years old in the series finale of Downton Abbey. But that means he would theoretically be 18 in the fall of 1939, which is exactly when World War II broke out in Europe. He would almost certainly enlist, as show creator Julian Fellowes himself has suggested. But Decider has more specifically theorized that George would join the Royal Air Force (RAF), “with a desire to rebel against his emotionally distant mother and find purpose in a greater cause.” Sounds like George would be taking part in some dangerous missions, putting the entire family’s future at risk.

9. Public tours keep the estate alive.

The Crawleys spend much of Downton Abbey fretting about the future management of their estate—partially because Lord Grantham is kind of bad at it. But Lady Mary has taken over when the series ends, and Fellowes believes she’d find savvy ways to keep her family’s home in their hands. “She would probably have opened the house to the public in the 1960s, as so many of them did,” Fellowes told Deadline. “And she’d have retreated to a wing, and maybe only occupied the whole house during the winters. My own belief is that the Crawleys would still be there.”

10. The Dowager Countess keeps Denker and Spratt around for the drama.

Gladys Denker is a maid to the Dowager Countess. Septimus Spratt is her butler. These two do not like each other, and they’re quite public about it. Denker and Spratt’s unprofessional squabbles would’ve gotten plenty of other servants fired, but fans believe the Dowager Countess keeps them employed for her own amusement.

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