The Beer Tourism Index

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Undoubtedly beer tourism is growing phenomenon, and has been for some time. Fifteen years ago, when I was GM of the Celebrator Beer News, the “Hopspots” sections were the most popular in the brewspaper, as many readers reported that they always kept one in their car when they travelled to help them find a beer spot (remember that was before smartphones and GPS were ubiquitous). I know for at least thirty years I’ve been including beer destinations any time I travel, even before I did so as part of my profession. Having that information at your fingertips through apps, websites and GPS has only helped to increase beer travel, I think, and at least part of the success of beer weeks has to do with the goal of bringing tourism to specific geographic areas; essentially making the week the destination rather than a side trip. So it’s interesting to see that a popular travel website, Travelocity, is not only recognizing how beer people travel, but has created a Beer Tourism Index to rank the Top Beer Destinations, dividing them by large and small metro areas (though I’m surprised they consider Santa Rosa-Petaluma, Lancaster PA and a few others as “large”). Also somewhat curious is the total absence of the San Francisco Bay Area, or even San Francisco or Oakland/East Bay in the listings. What’s especially odd about that is that San Francisco is one of the top tourist destination cities (it’s number two according to EscapeHere and #5 according to TripAdvisor and #3 via Business Insider). At any rate, according to their press release.

By examining the location of all breweries in the U.S. and looking at other factors important to a successful “beercation,” including the availability of rideshare services, accessibility via air, and the average cost of lodging, this index identified the best large and small metro areas to sample some of the nation’s best craft beers.

Here’s the full list below:

Travelocity-BeerDestinations

And here’s the criteria used to arrive at this list:

*To find the top metropolitan areas for beer tourism, Travelocity scored the over 300 US MSAs (Metropolitan Statistical Areas) on four factors:

  • Breweries per 1 million residents: Working with the Brewers Association (an organization representing the majority of independent brewers in the US), every MSA was scored by the number of breweries and brewpubs per 1 million residents
  • Rideshare availability: To get a full sampling of a region’s beer culture, a beer tourist may need to visit multiple breweries across the area. Rideshare services like Uber or Lyft are invaluable for this, so each MSA was scored on availability of both, either, or neither of these services.
  • Nonstop air destinations: If the MSA has an airport with scheduled air service – from how many destinations is nonstop service available?
  • Lodging score: Each MSA was scored on the price of an average room night for the 2015 calendar year. The lower the price, the higher the score for the MSA.

The Brewers Association also released a joint press release, adding:

Beer tourism is a big deal. We estimate that in 2014, more than 10 million people toured small and independent craft breweries. That’s a lot of brewery tours. Just search “beercations” and you’ll get a plethora of results on where to tour local breweries.

More than 7 percent of craft sales (by volume) now happen at the source—the brewery. Craft brewers are now a main attraction for travelers. For example, in 2015, the Brewers Association’s three-day Great American Beer Festival generated the equivalent of 2 percent of Denver’s GDP, accounting for $28.6 million. Beer tourism is so strong that travel website Travelocity just published a beer tourism index.

In a Travelocity survey of 1,003 people, more than three-quarters said they would like to go on a trip where they visited craft breweries and sampled local beer. With numerous beer trails flourishing across the U.S. and beer events including festivals and special beer releases racking up millions upon millions of tourism trips and dollars, the modern beercation is a boon to beer.

The Brewers Association commissioned a Nielsen Omnibus panel in June 2016 that asked, “How many, if any, craft breweries have you visited at their site in the past 12 months while traveling?” The answer: on average 2.1 breweries. Impressive.

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The Top 20 Most Popular Beers Sold In America

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Despite being primarily a wine site, Vinepair often has some interesting beer content. A few months ago, they created a chart of The 20 Most Popular Beers in America. The rankings are based on IRI data from 2013, which is a little odd since more recent figures are undoubtedly available. But in the top sellers, they don’t change all that often so it’s likely still reasonably accurate.
top-20-beers-in-america-2015
In the “Details” below, the twenty beers are listed with a number of pieces of other interesting data, including the number of cases, price per case and their Beer Advocate score.
top-20-beers-in-america-2015-details

Travel Channel Picks The “Top 7 Beer Destinations”

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Okay, these things are pretty easy to pick apart because no one will ever agree on where the “best” or “top” destinations are for anything, beer or otherwise. I understand that top x lists are very popular. Hell, I enjoy making them myself. They can be fun. But take a look at what the Travel Channel, written by NYC-based travel writer Jimmy Im, has chosen as the Top 7 Beer Destinations.

  1. Asheville, North Carolina
  2. Los Angeles’ Popular Breweries
  3. Virginia’s Lagers and Ales
  4. Toronto’s Craft Breweries
  5. Finger Lakes, New York’s Beer Hub
  6. Atlanta’s New Brews
  7. Traverse City, Emerging Beer Town

So while I’m sure none of the places he’s listed are bad beer destinations, and certainly a few of them deserve to be on this list, I have a hard time accepting these as the very top destinations. The list strikes me as being from someone who’s not really connected to the beer community in any meaningful way. If they had only resisted calling them the top beer destinations and called them instead something like “seven beer destinations worth visiting” that might have worked, but they didn’t. Im specifically states that “these destinations that are fast becoming beer scene kings that offer some of the best suds in town.”

So while I have no problem with Asheville being here, ignoring Philly, Portland (both Oregon and Maine), San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Denver, Boston, Chicago and several others makes this list more infamous for what it’s left out than what was chosen. Certainly L.A. is an up and coming beer city, and has made great strides over the last few years, but I’m not sure I’d put it as the second-best beer destination, especially over so many others left out. And he singles out the Strand Brewing Co. and El Segundo Brewing Company as “two of the more popular breweries.” No disrespect to those two breweries — I haven’t been to either of them but I’m sure they’re fine places — but those are not the L.A breweries that are making a splash lately.

Third is the entire state of Virginia, and Im seems to have chosen the Old Dominion State because it’s “so obsessed with its beer culture, it is officially naming the month of August ‘Virginia Craft Brew Month'” and now has 40 breweries. Well July is Oregon Beer Month and February is California Beer Month. Oregon has over 160 breweries and California around 325. So while Virginia is a terrific state and undoubtedly has some fine breweries, if obsession, state beer months and the number of breweries is his criteria, then I’m just not sure Virginia is the right one to choose.

The remaning four, Toronto, the New York Finger Lakes, Atlanta and Traverse City, Michigan, again I’m sure are all fine beer places, but do they deserve to be among the “top 7?” By choosing Toronto, he’s also opened the door to other international beer destinations, of which there are numerous examples, many of which most people would choose over some of the destinations on the Travel Channel’s list. With the last one, Traverse City, Im seems even to have forgotten his own mandate, when he refers to the Michigan town as an “emerging beer town.” It may well be, but shouldn’t we wait until it’s emerged before putting it on the list of the top spots?

So while these things are, as I alluded to, very subjective and depend greatly on how you define the criteria used to rank them, these choices wouldn’t pass muster for even a casual beer lover. It could have been a fun list if they’d only resisted the temptation to declare them the “Top 7 Beer Destinations.” They’re just not.

10 Healthy Reasons To Drink Beer

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I may not always see eye-to-eye with the roman catholic church, but I’m with them all the way on this one. While many religious denominations forbid their followers from drinking alcohol and others preach against it, it’s nice to see at least one take a more rational approach. Not only does Catholic Online tell everyone: “Have a beer. Really, go ahead and have one.” They even go so far as to encourage you to spread the word to your fellow man (and woman): “Tell everyone we said it’s okay to pop a cold one.” Talk about a great beginning.

The article published today on the catholic website is entitled 10 healthy reasons to have a beer! and also carries this subtitle: “Beer outperforms wine as a healthy beverage in several categories.” After detailing beer’s long history and its changing perception today, they get to the meat of their thinking:

Several years ago, it became understood that wine had a surprising number of health benefits. Since then, beer drinkers have had to endure a litany of praises about how great wine was for health as opposed to beer. But now, it turns out that the wine drinkers needn’t be so smug when comparing their beverage to beer.

Researchers from around the world have spent years studying one of our favorite beverages in detail, and there’s some good news. The latest collection of studies from around the world reveals that if the beer is enjoyed in moderation, meaning one for women, and no more than two for men, per day, then it can yield a surprising number of health benefits.

Below is the list of their ten reasons to drink a beer, but check out the original story to read the background for each of these ten.

  1. Strong Bones
  2. Strong Heart
  3. Kidney Stone Prevention
  4. Dementia Prevention
  5. Reduced Cancer Risk
  6. Taking Your Vitamins
  7. Stroke Prevention
  8. Diabetes Prevention
  9. Blood Pressure
  10. Long Life

I’ve seen, read and even written about most, if not all, of these health benefits from drinking beer in moderation, but it’s nice to see them all in one place. The article ends with this appropriate suggestion. “So the next time you decide to have a beer, you can enjoy it without the guilt.” Amen to that.

Top 10 Alcohol Drinking Cities

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I’m not sure where the source data comes from, but the latest issue of Playboy — in the Raw Data section — had an interesting Top 10 list of what they referred to as the “Tipsiest Towns in the U.S.” The list is “based on the average number of alcoholic drinks consumed per person.”

  1. Milwaukee, WI
  2. Fargo, ND
  3. San Francisco, CA
  4. Austin, TX
  5. Reno, NV
  6. Burlington, VT
  7. Omaha, NE
  8. Boston, MA
  9. Anchorage, AK
  10. San Diego, CA

Craft Beer’s 10 Commandments

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Jim, the beer-half of the Beer & Whiskey Brothers blog with his brother Don, has a fun list they created; The Ten Commandments of Craft Beer. They’re not so much “commandments” in the sense that you’re being commanded, but it’s a pretty good list of things you can do to get the most out of enjoying craft beer. What would you add? Is there anything you disagree with?

tencommandmentsofcraftbeer

Beer Advocate’s Top 100 Beers On Planet Earth Annotated, Part 2

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The latest list of the Top Beers on Planet Earth that Beer Advocate released yesterday was an experimental list, aimed at sparking a discussion so they could consider the best way to approach such lists in the future. After a day of constructive feedback, and some not so constructive I’m told, they’ve again redone the list introducing several new changes to the formula, based on feedback they received during the experiment. The biggest difference between the two lists is to be included on yesterday’s list required a minimum of 1,000 reviews. The current list requires only 105 reviews to be eligible. So since so many people seemed to enjoy yesterday’s analysis of the list, I’ve looked at the new list in the same way and again pulled out some interesting statistics about the Top 100 Beers.

In the Top 100, there are beers from 60 breweries, 16 more than yesterday’s list (the Experimental or E-List). Those breweries are from six countries, one less than the E-List. Two countries dropped off (the Czech Republic and Ireland) and one new one was added (Denmark).

The U.S. again has by far the most, with 72 (one more than yesterday’s). The American beers on the list are located in 19 states, 6 more than the E-List. California still has the most, by far, with two more than yesterday’s list, bringing their total to 25, meaning one in four beers on the list is from California. Seven new states had beers that made the list (Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Texas and Wisconsin) and one dropped off (Maryland). Here’s how the new list shakes out:

Countries in Top 100

  1. U.S. = 72
  2. Belgium = 17
  3. Canada = 4
  4. Germany = 3
  5. UK = 3
  6. Denmark = 1

U.S. States in Top 100

  1. California = 25
  2. Michigan = 9
  3. Colorado = 5
  4. Indiana = 5
  5. Minnesota = 4
  6. Illinois = 3
  7. New York = 3
  8. Ohio = 3
  9. Oregon = 3
  10. Pennsylvania = 2
  11. Wisconsin = 2
  12. Connecticut = 1
  13. Delaware = 1
  14. Florida = 1
  15. Maine = 1
  16. Massachusetts = 1
  17. Missouri = 1
  18. New Hampshire = 1
  19. Texas = 1

The diversity of styles represented by the list dropped to 24, losing a dozen but picking up five new ones, and again I simplified and combined a few from Beer Advocate’s list. Around 11 styles have only one beer on the list. The most popular, Imperial Stout, more than doubled over yesterday’s list, while the second most popular, Double IPAs, remained the same. The top 13 (the styles with more than 1) break down as follows.

Most Popular Beer Styles in Top 100

  1. Imperial Stout = 30
  2. Imperial IPA = 10
  3. India Pale Ale = 10
  4. American Strong Ale = 6
  5. American Wild Ale = 2
  6. Belgian Strong Dark Ale = 4
  7. Quadrupel = 4
  8. Stout = 4
  9. Tripel = 4
  10. Doppelbock = 3
  11. Fruit Beer = 2
  12. Saison/Farmhouse = 3
  13. Barley Wine = 2
  14. Hefeweizen = 2

Extreme beers (9% and above) took the lead, with 53, over half, whereas yesterday they numbered only 32. Beers below 5% also dropped in half, from 10 to 5. Beers of middle-strength (over 5% but below 9%) likewise fell from 58 to 42. In the new list extreme beers make up 53%, middle-strength 42% and session beers 5%. In the Top 25, things stayed more constant, with 16 (1 more than the E-List) being 9% or above. The Top 25 also represent less styles, 9 as opposed to 12 yesterday, from 16 different breweries in 4 countries, shaking out like so:

Countries in Top 25

  1. U.S. = 18
  2. Belgium = 4
  3. Canada = 2
  4. Germany = 1

U.S. States in Top 25

  1. California = 6
  2. Michigan = 4
  3. Illinois = 2
  4. Indiana = 2
  5. Minnesota = 1
  6. New Hampshire = 1
  7. Oregon = 1
  8. Pennsylvania = 1

Most Popular Beer Styles in the Top 25

  1. Imperial Stout = 11
  2. Imperial IPA = 4
  3. Quadrupel = 3
  4. American IPA = 2

The top 50 is no longer as middle of the road as it was. Yesterday, extreme and middle-strength beers were nearly equal. Today’s list has extreme beers at about 56%. Again, Oskar Blues was the highest ranked canned beer, but came in at #45 instead of #30.

The diversity of breweries also changed dramatically, with several having a great number on yesterday’s list being reduced to very few or even none, notably Anchor, Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada. Thirteen breweries, many of them world class, fell of the new list but 30 news ones made the cut, giving the whole list greater diversity. The breweries having the most beers on the Top 100 list is below.

Breweries in the Top 100

  1. Russian River = 7
  2. Stone Brewing = 7
  3. Founder’s Brewing = 5
  4. Three Floyds =5
  5. AleSmith = 4
  6. Bell’s Brewery = 3
  7. Great Divide Brewing = 3
  8. Surly Brewing = 2
  9. Bear Republic Brewing = 2
  10. Goose Island = 2
  11. De Struise = 2
  12. New Glarus = 2
  13. Rochefort = 2
  14. Rogue Ales = 2
  15. Samuel Smith = 2
  16. Unibroue = 2
  17. Westvleteren = 2

And here’s the new list:

top-100-gold

Beer Advocate’s Top 100 Beers On Planet Earth (as of 8.10.2010)

  1. Trappist Westvleteren 12, Brouwerij Westvleteren (Quadrupel; 10.2%)
  2. Pliny The Elder, Russian River Brewing (American Double/Imperial IPA; 8%)
  3. Pliny The Younger, Russian River Brewing (American Double/Imperial IPA; 11%)
  4. The Abyss, Deschutes Brewing (American Double/Imperial Stout; 11%)
  5. Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout, Founders Brewing (American Double/Imperial Stout; 11.2%)
  6. Trappistes Rochefort 10, Brasserie de Rochefort (Quadrupel; 11.3%)
  7. Trappist Westvleteren 8, Brouwerij Westvleteren (Dubbel; 8%)
  8. Founders Breakfast Stout, Founders Brewing (American Double/Imperial Stout; 8.3%)
  9. HopSlam Ale, Bell’s Brewery (American Double/Imperial IPA; 10%)
  10. Stone Imperial Russian Stout, Stone Brewing (Russian Imperial Stout; 10.5%)
  11. St. Bernardus Abt 12, Brouwerij St. Bernardus (Quadrupel; 10.5%)
  12. Dark Lord Imperial Stout, Three Floyds Brewing (Russian Imperial Stout; 15%)
  13. Supplication, Russian River Brewing (American Wild Ale; 7%)
  14. Speedway Stout, AleSmith Brewing (American Double/Imperial Stout; 12%)
  15. Péché Mortel (Imperial Stout Au Cafe), Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel (American Double/Imperial Stout; 9.5%)
  16. Kate The Great, Portsmouth Brewery (Russian Imperial Stout; 9.5%)
  17. Dreadnaught IPA, Three Floyds Brewing (American Double/Imperial IPA; 9.5%)
  18. Sculpin IPA, Ballast Point Brewing (American IPA; 7%)
  19. Canadian Breakfast Stout, Founders Brewing (American Double/Imperial Stout; 9.4%)
  20. Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, Brauerei Weihenstephan (Hefeweizen; 5.4%)
  21. Masala Mama IPA, Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery (American IPA; 5.9%)
  22. Bourbon County Stout, Goose Island (American Double/Imperial Stout: 13%)
  23. Nugget Nectar, Tröegs Brewing (American Amber/Red Ale; 7.5%)
  24. Bourbon County Coffee Stout, Goose Island (American Double/Imperial Stout; 13%)
  25. Celebrator Doppelbock, Brauerei Aying (Doppelbock; 6.7%)
  26. Darkness, Surly Brewing (Russian Imperial Stout; 10.3%)
  27. Temptation, Russian River Brewing (American Wild Ale; 7.25%)
  28. Furious, Surly Brewing (American IPA; 6.2%)
  29. Duvel, Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat (Belgian Strong Pale Ale; 8.5%)
  30. La Fin Du Monde, Unibroue (Tripel; 9%)
  31. Schneider Aventinus, Private Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider & Sohn (Weizenbock; 8.2%)
  32. AleSmith IPA, AleSmith Brewing (American IPA; 7.25%)
  33. Consecration, Russian River Brewing (American Wild Ale; 10%)
  34. Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, North Coast Brewing (Russian Imperial Stout; 9%)
  35. Double Bastard Ale, Stone Brewing (American Strong Ale; 10.5%)
  36. Trappistes Rochefort 8, Brasserie de Rochefort (Belgian Strong Dark Ale; 9.2%)
  37. Hop Rod Rye, Bear Republic Brewing (American IPA; 8%)
  38. Ruination IPA, Stone Brewing (American Double/Imperial IPA; 7.7%)
  39. Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, Great Lakes Brewing (American Porter; 5.8%)
  40. Two Hearted Ale, Bell’s Brewery (American IPA; 7.1%)
  41. Wisconsin Belgian Red, New Glarus Brewing (Fruit Beer; 4%)
  42. Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue), Bières de Chimay, a.k.a. Abbaye Notre Dame de Scourmont (Belgian Strong Dark Ale; 9%)
  43. YuleSmith (Summer), AleSmith Brewing (American Double/Imperial IPA; 8.8%)
  44. Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, Great Divide Brewing (Russian Imperial Stout; 9.5%)
  45. Ten FIDY, Oskar Blues Grill & Brewery (Russian Imperial Stout; 9.5%)
  46. Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout, Cigar City Brewing (American Double/Imperial Stout; 11.5%)
  47. Chocolate Stout, Rogue Ales (American Stout; 6%)
  48. 90 Minute IPA, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (American Double/Imperial IPA; 9%)
  49. Blind Pig IPA, Russian River Brewing (American IPA; 6.1%)
  50. Pannepot: Old Fisherman’s Ale, De Struise Brouwers (Quadrupel; 10%)
  51. Raspberry Tart, New Glarus Brewing (Fruit Beer; 4%)
  52. Fantôme Saison, Brasserie Fantôme (Saison/Farmhouse Ale; 8%)
  53. Yeti Imperial Stout, Great Divide Brewing (Russian Imperial Stout; 9.5%)
  54. Choklat, Southern Tier Brewing (American Double/Imperial Stout; 11%)
  55. Alpha King Pale Ale, Three Floyds Brewing (American Pale Ale; 6%)
  56. Stone IPA, Stone Brewing (American IPA; 6.9%)
  57. Westmalle Trappist Tripel, Brouwerij Westmalle (Tripel; 9.5%)
  58. J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale, J.W. Lees & Co. (English Barleywine; 11.5%)
  59. Kuhnhenn Raspberry Eisbock, Kuhnhenn Brewing (Eisbock; 13.5%)
  60. Old Ruffian Barley Wine, Great Divide Brewing (American Barleywine; 10.2%)
  61. Black Tuesday, The Bruery (American Double/Imperial Stout; 19.5%)
  62. Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout, Rogue Ales (Oatmeal Stout; 6.1%)
  63. Arrogant Bastard Ale, Stone Brewing (American Strong Ale; 7.2%)
  64. Storm King Stout, Victory Brewing (Russian Imperial Stout; 9.1%)
  65. Live Oak HefeWeizen, Live Oak Brewing (Hefeweizen; 4.1%)
  66. Cuvée Van De Keizer Blauw (Blue), Brouwerij Het Anker (Belgian Strong Dark Ale; 11%)
  67. Vanilla Bean Aged Dark Lord, Three Floyds Brewing (Russian Imperial Stout; 13%)
  68. Founders Imperial Stout, Founders Brewing (Russian Imperial Stout; 10.5%)
  69. Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, Brooklyn Brewery (Russian Imperial Stout; 10.1%)
  70. St. Bernardus Tripel, Brouwerij St. Bernardus (Tripel; 8%)
  71. Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout, Samuel Smith Old Brewery at Tadcaster (Russian Imperial Stout; 7%)
  72. Bell’s Expedition Stout, Bell’s Brewery (Russian Imperial Stout; 10.5%)
  73. Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel, Klosterbrauerei Andechs (Doppelbock; 7.1%)
  74. Girardin Gueuze 1882 Black Label (unfiltered), Brouwerij Girardin (Gueuze; 5%)
  75. Pure Hoppiness, Alpine Beer Co. (American Double/Imperial IPA; 8%)
  76. Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale, Stone Brewing (American Strong Ale; 7.2%)
  77. Saint Lamvinus, Brasserie Cantillon (Lambic, Fruit; 6%)
  78. Thomas Hooker Liberator Doppelbock, Thomas Hooker Ales & Lagers (Doppelbock; 8%)
  79. Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel, Brasserie d’Achouffe (Belgian IPA; 9%)
  80. B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher Oatmeal-Imperial Stout, Hoppin’ Frog Brewery (Russian Imperial Stout; 9.4%)
  81. Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, Stone Brewing (American Strong Ale; 8.7%)
  82. Hennepin (Farmhouse Saison), Brewery Ommegang (Saison/Farmhouse Ale; 7.7%)
  83. Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout, Samuel Smith Old Brewery at Tadcaster (Oatmeal Stout; 5%)
  84. Founders Red’s Rye PA, Founders Brewing (Rye Beer; 6.8%)
  85. Samuel Adams Utopias, Boston Beer Co. (American Strong Ale; 27%)
  86. Beatification, Russian River Brewing (American Wild Ale; 5.5%)
  87. AleSmith Speedway Stout, Barrel Aged, AleSmith Brewing (American Double/Imperial Stout; 12%)
  88. Abrasive Ale, Surly Brewing (American Double/Imperial IPA; 9%)
  89. Trois Pistoles, Unibroue (Belgian Strong Dark Ale; 9%)
  90. Tripel Karmeliet, Brouwerij Bosteels (Tripel; 8.4%)
  91. Racer 5 India Pale Ale, Bear Republic Brewing (American IPA; 7%)
  92. Cadillac Mountain Stout, Bar Harbor Brewing (American Stout; 6.7%)
  93. Siberian Night Imperial Stout, Thirsty Dog Brewing (Russian Imperial Stout; 9%)
  94. Maharaja, Avery Brewing (American Double/Imperial IPA; 10.3%)
  95. Oak Aged Dark Lord Imperial Stout, Three Floyds Brewing (Russian Imperial Stout; 13%)
  96. Ølfabrikken Porter, Ølfabrikken (Baltic Porter; 7.5%)
  97. The Angel’s Share, Bourbon Barrel-Aged, The Lost Abbey (American Strong Ale; 12%)
  98. Saison, Brett, Boulevard Brewing (Saison/Farmhouse Ale; 8.5%)
  99. Black Albert, De Struise Brouwers (Russian Imperial Stout; 13%)
  100. Night Stalker, Goose Island (American Double/Imperial Stout; 11.7%)

Beer Advocate’s Top 100 Beers On Planet Earth Annotated

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Beer Advocate just released their latest list of the Top Beers on Planet Earth, at least according to their ratings. Just for fun, I’ve also looked through them and pulled out some interesting statistics about the list.

In the Top 100, there are beers from 44 breweries. Those breweries are from seven countries, with the U.S. having by far the most. In fact, 71 of the beers on the list are American, and are located in just 13 states. California, with 23 beers has the most. Here’s how they shake out:

Countries in Top 100

  1. U.S. = 71
  2. Belgium = 11
  3. Germany = 7
  4. UK = 5
  5. Canada = 4
  6. Czech = 1
  7. Ireland = 1

U.S. States in Top 100

  1. California = 23
  2. Delaware = 10
  3. Colorado = 6
  4. Michigan = 6
  5. Pennsylvania = 6
  6. Massachusetts = 5
  7. Oregon = 5
  8. New York = 4
  9. Indiana = 2
  10. Illinois = 1
  11. Maryland = 1
  12. New Hampshire = 1
  13. Ohio = 1

The styles represented by the list are around 30, though I simplified and combined a few from Beer Advocate’s list. Around 14 styles have only one beer on the list. The top 15 break down as follows.

Most Popular Beer Styles in Top 100

  1. Imperial Stout = 14
  2. Imperial IPA = 10
  3. India Pale Ale = 10
  4. Stout = 6
  5. Belgian Strong Dark Ale = 5
  6. Porter = 5
  7. American Strong Ale = 4
  8. Brown Ale = 4
  9. Pale Ale = 4
  10. Tripel = 4
  11. Belgian Strong Pale Ale = 3
  12. Doppelbock = 3
  13. Hefeweizen = 3
  14. Pilsener = 3
  15. Quadrupel = 3
  16. Herb/Spice Beer = 2

Nearly 60% (58) are above 5% a.b.v. but below 9%. 32 of the beers are 9% or above and ten of them are 5% and under. That’s far more middle of the road than I expected and it is quite different if you look at just the top 25. For the top 25 beers, 15 (or 60%) are extreme beers over 9% and the remaining 10 (0r 40%) are all over 5% but below 9%. The Top 25 also represent only 12 beer styles from 19 different breweries in 4 countries, shaking out like so:

Countries in Top 25

  1. U.S. = 15
  2. Belgium = 5
  3. Germany = 3
  4. Canada = 2

U.S. States in Top 25

  1. California = 8
  2. Michigan = 4
  3. Illinois = 1
  4. Indiana = 1
  5. Pennsylvania = 1

Most Popular Beer Styles in the Top 25

  1. Imperial Stout = 6
  2. Imperial IPA = 5
  3. American IPA = 3
  4. Belgian Strong Dark Ale = 2
  5. Quadrupel = 2

The top 50, naturally, is somewhat in the middle, with extreme beers and middle-strength beers nearly equally represented, with only 1 below 5%. At fifty, only one more nation is represented, bringing the total to five. The highest canned craft beer came in at #30, with only two canned beers making the list, both of them from Oskar Blues. I don’t know what any of this ultimately means, but I thought it would be fun and interesting to take apart the beers that Beer Advocate users rated the highest and see what patterns emerged.

Obviously, the high number of American beers is a product of having been founded here and I presume the greatest number of users are still either here or at least in English-speaking countries, which may limit access to some beers. That may also be a factor in certain breweries making the list multiple times as a quick scan of them shows that the majority have fairly wide distribution throughout the U.S. The breweries having the most beers on the Top 100 list is below.

Breweries in the Top 100

  1. Dogfish Head = 10
  2. Stone Brewing = 8
  3. Sierra Nevada Brewing = 7
  4. Rogue Ales = 5
  5. Samuel Adams = 5
  6. Victory Brewing = 5
  7. Bell’s Brewery = 4
  8. Anchor Brewing = 3
  9. Chimay = 3
  10. Great Divide Brewing = 3
  11. Ommegang = 3
  12. Samuel Smith = 3
  13. Unibroue = 3
  14. Bear Republic Brewing = 2
  15. Founder’s Brewing = 2
  16. Oskar Blues = 2
  17. Paulaner = 2
  18. Rochefort = 2
  19. Spaten = 2
  20. Three Floyds =2

And here’s the original list:

top-100-gold

Beer Advocate’s Top 100 Beers On Planet Earth

  1. Pliny The Elder, Russian River Brewing (American Double/Imperial IPA; 8%)
  2. Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout, Founders Brewing (American Double/Imperial Stout; 11.2%)
  3. Trappistes Rochefort 10, Brasserie de Rochefort (Quadrupel; 11.3%)
  4. HopSlam Ale, Bell’s Brewery (American Double/Imperial IPA; 10%)
  5. Stone Imperial Russian Stout, Stone Brewing (Russian Imperial Stout; 10.5%)
  6. St. Bernardus Abt 12, Brouwerij St. Bernardus (Quadrupel; 10.50%)
  7. Founders Breakfast Stout, Founders Brewing (American Double/Imperial Stout; 8.3%)
  8. Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, Brauerei Weihenstephan (Hefeweizen; 5.4%)
  9. Péché Mortel (Imperial Stout Au Cafe), Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel (American Double/Imperial Stout; 9.5%)
  10. Celebrator Doppelbock, Brauerei Aying (Doppelbock; 6.7%)
  11. Duvel, Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat (Belgian Strong Pale Ale; 8.5%)
  12. Dreadnaught IPA, Three Floyds Brewing (American Double/Imperial IPA; 9.5%)
  13. Nugget Nectar, Tröegs Brewing (American Amber/Red Ale; 7.5%)
  14. La Fin Du Monde, Unibroue (Tripel; 9%)
  15. Bourbon County Stout, Goose Island (American Double/Imperial Stout: 13%)
  16. Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, North Coast Brewing (Russian Imperial Stout; 9%)
  17. Two Hearted Ale, Bell’s Brewery (American IPA / 7.1%)
  18. Ruination IPA, Stone Brewing (American Double/Imperial IPA; 7.7%)
  19. Schneider Aventinus, Private Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider & Sohn (Weizenbock / 8.2%)
  20. Double Bastard Ale, Stone Brewing (American Strong Ale / 10.5%)
  21. 90 Minute IPA, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (American Double/Imperial IPA; 9%)
  22. Hop Rod Rye, Bear Republic Brewing (American IPA; 8%)
  23. Trappistes Rochefort 8, Brasserie de Rochefort (Belgian Strong Dark Ale; 9.2%)
  24. Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue), Bières de Chimay, a.k.a. Abbaye Notre Dame de Scourmont (Belgian Strong Dark Ale; 9%)
  25. Stone IPA, Stone Brewing (American IPA; 6.9%)
  26. Arrogant Bastard Ale, Stone Brewing (American Strong Ale; 7.2%)
  27. Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, Great Lakes Brewing (American Porter; 5.8%)
  28. Chocolate Stout, Rogue Ales (American Stout; 6%)
  29. Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, Great Divide Brewing (Russian Imperial Stout; 9.5%)
  30. Ten FIDY, Oskar Blues Grill & Brewery (Russian Imperial Stout; 9.5%)
  31. Storm King Stout, Victory Brewing (Russian Imperial Stout; 9.1%)
  32. Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout, Rogue Ales (Oatmeal Stout; 6.1%)
  33. Alpha King Pale Ale, Three Floyds Brewing (American Pale Ale; 6%)
  34. Westmalle Trappist Tripel, Brouwerij Westmalle (Tripel; 9.5%)
  35. Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout, Samuel Smith Old Brewery at Tadcaster (Russian Imperial Stout; 7%)
  36. Yeti Imperial Stout, Great Divide Brewing (Russian Imperial Stout; 9.5%)
  37. Hennepin (Farmhouse Saison), Brewery Ommegang (Saison/Farmhouse Ale; 7.7%)
  38. Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout, Samuel Smith Old Brewery at Tadcaster (Oatmeal Stout; 5%)
  39. Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, Brooklyn Brewery (Russian Imperial Stout; 10.1%)
  40. Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale, Stone Brewing (American Strong Ale; 7.2%)
  41. Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, Stone Brewing (American Strong Ale; 8.7%)
  42. Trois Pistoles, Unibroue (Belgian Strong Dark Ale; 9%)
  43. Bell’s Expedition Stout, Bell’s Brewery (Russian Imperial Stout; 10.5%)
  44. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, Sierra Nevada Brewing (American IPA; 6.8%)
  45. Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale, Sierra Nevada Brewing (American Barleywine; 9.6%)
  46. Racer 5 India Pale Ale, Bear Republic Brewing (American IPA; 7%)
  47. Orval Trappist Ale, Brasserie d’Orval (Belgian Pale Ale; 6.9%)
  48. Hercules Double IPA, Great Divide Brewing (American Double/Imperial IPA; 10%)
  49. Maharaja, Avery Brewing (American Double/Imperial IPA; 10.3%)
  50. Maudite, Unibroue (Belgian Strong Dark Ale; 8%)
  51. Sierra Nevada Harvest Wet Hop Ale, Sierra Nevada Brewing (American IPA; 6.7%)
  52. Palo Santo Marron, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (American Brown Ale; 12%)
  53. Hop Stoopid, Lagunitas Brewing (American Double/Imperial IPA; 8%)
  54. Ommegang (Abbey Ale), Brewery Ommegang (Dubbel; 8.5%)
  55. Anchor Porter, Anchor Brewing (American Porter; 5.6%)
  56. HopDevil Ale, Victory Brewing (American IPA; 6.7%)
  57. World Wide Stout, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (American Double/Imperial Stout; 18%)
  58. Three Philosophers Belgian Style Blend, Brewery Ommegang (Quadrupel; 9.8%)
  59. Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, Wells & Young’s Ltd (Milk/Sweet Stout; 5.2%)
  60. Smuttynose IPA “Finest Kind”, Smuttynose Brewing (American IPA; 6.9%)
  61. Stone Smoked Porter, Stone Brewing (American Porter; 5.9%)
  62. Chimay Première (Red), Bières de Chimay, a.k.a. Abbaye Notre Dame de Scourmont (Dubbel; 7%)
  63. Indian Brown Ale, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (American Brown Ale; 7.2%)
  64. Chimay Tripel (White), Bières de Chimay, a.k.a. Abbaye Notre Dame de Scourmont (Tripel; 8%)
  65. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA, Sierra Nevada Brewing (American IPA; 7.2%)
  66. Prima Pils, Victory Brewing (German Pilsener; 5.3%)
  67. Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier Naturtrüb, Paulaner Salvator Thomasbraeu (Hefeweizen; 5.5%)
  68. Hazelnut Brown Nectar, Rogue Ales (American Brown Ale; 6.2%)
  69. Hop Wallop, Victory Brewing (American Double/Imperial IPA; 8.5%)
  70. Gonzo Imperial Porter, Flying Dog Brewer (Baltic Porter; 7.80%)
  71. Fuller’s ESB, Fuller Smith & Turner (Extra Special/Strong Bitter (ESB); 5.9%)
  72. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Sierra Nevada Brewing (American Pale Ale; 5.6%)
  73. Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale, Samuel Smith Old Brewery at Tadcaster (English Brown Ale; 5%)
  74. Delirium Tremens, Brouwerij Huyghe (Belgian Strong Pale Ale; 8.5%)
  75. 60 Minute IPA, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (American IPA; 6%)
  76. Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse, Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu (Hefeweizen; 5%)
  77. Sierra Nevada Porter, Sierra Nevada Brewing (American Porter; 5.6%)
  78. Anchor Liberty Ale, Anchor Brewing (American Pale Ale; 6%)
  79. Samuel Adams Cream Stout, Boston Beer Company (Milk/Sweet Stout; 4.69%)
  80. Dale’s Pale Ale, Oskar Blues Grill & Brewery (American Pale Ale; 6.5%)
  81. Mocha Porter, Rogue Ales (American Porter; 5.3%)
  82. Dead Guy Ale, Rogue Ales (Maibock/Helles Bock; 6.5%)
  83. Salvator Doppel Bock, Paulaner Salvator Thomasbraeu (Doppelbock; 7.9%)
  84. Spaten Optimator, Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu (Doppelbock; 7.2%)
  85. 120 Minute IPA, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (American Double/Imperial IPA; 18%)
  86. Hoegaarden Original White Ale, Brouwerij van Hoegaarden (Witbier; 4.9%)
  87. Punkin Ale, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Pumpkin Ale; 7%)
  88. Bell’s Oberon Ale, Bell’s Brewery (American Pale Wheat Ale; 5.8%)
  89. Anchor Steam Beer, Anchor Brewing (California Common/Steam Beer; 4.9%)
  90. Guinness Extra Stout (Original), Guinness/Diageo (Irish Dry Stout; 6%)
  91. Samuel Adams Black Lager, Boston Beer Company (Schwarzbier; 4.9%)
  92. Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Boston Beer Company (Vienna Lager; 4.75%)
  93. ApriHop, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (American IPA; 7%)
  94. Midas Touch Golden Elixir, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Herb/Spice Beer; 9%)
  95. Golden Monkey, Victory Brewing (Tripel; 9.5%)
  96. Samuel Adams Winter Lager, Boston Beer Company (Bock; 5.8%)
  97. Raison D’etre, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Belgian Strong Dark Ale; 8%)
  98. Pilsner Urquell, Plzensky Prazdroj (Czech Pilsener; 4.4%)
  99. Samuel Adams Octoberfest, Boston Beer Company (Märzen/Oktoberfest; 5.4%)
  100. Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager, Sierra Nevada Brewing (Czech Pilsener; 5%)

Zymurgy Poll Picks Best Beers In America

aha
Zymurgy magazine, which is published by the American Homebrewers Association for its members, today released the results of their latest poll, asking their readers to “readers to send us a list of their 20 favorite beers. The only rule [was] that the beer [had] to be commercially available somewhere in the United States. A record number of votes were cast this year, with 1,192 different beers from 450 breweries represented in the poll.” So while the name of the poll is 2010 Zymurgy Best Beers In America, the list does include a few imported beers that are sold in the U.S.

For the second year in a row, Russian River’s Pliny the Elder took the top spot.

rr-pliny

2010 Zymurgy Best Beers In America Poll

  1. Russian River Pliny the Elder
  2. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
  3. Stone Arrogant Bastard
  4. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
  5. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  6. Stone IPA
  7. Tie for 7th
    • Bear Republic Racer 5
    • Guinness
    • Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine
    • Sierra Nevada Celebration
  8. Stone Ruination
  9. Tie for 12th
    • North Coast Old Rasputin
    • Sierra Nevada Torpedo
    • Rahr Winter Warmer
    • Rahr Ugly Pug
    • Rahr Iron Thistle
  10. Tie for 17th
    • Oskar Blues Ten Fidy
    • New Glarus Belgian Red
    • Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
    • Duvel
  11. Tie for 21st
    • Lagunitas IPA
    • Samuel Adams Boston Lager
    • Rahr Storm Cloud
    • Saison Dupont
  12. Tie for 25th
    • Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
    • Rahr Bucking Bock
    • Ommegang Three Philosophers

That’s the top 25, but the top 50 can bee seen at Zymurgy’s press release.

They also picked the top 25 favorite breweries, of which Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. of Fort Worth, Texas was number one and they “tabulated which breweries had the most brands in the voting. That honor went to Boston Beer Co. with 22 of its Samuel Adams brews getting votes. Dogfish Head was close behind with 20 brands.” You can also see the full list of Beer Portfolios and Favorite Breweries at the American Homebrewers Association website.

Esquire’s Worst 9 Beers

worst
Esquire has an odd little piece this week choosing the Nine Worst Beers on Earth, a fairly bold claim given how many beers are brewed on our planet. The author, St. Louis columnist Evan S. Benn, has probably not tried everything yet since he’s only been writing his column since last June, but overall his list does include some truly awful beers.

And while it wasn’t my intention to disparage Benn, in a recent column, Navigate Beer Fests Like a Pro Drinker, he does recommend spit buckets with the following. “You would be surprised how quickly the alcohol in 2-ounce samples can catch up to you. You’d also be surprised at how many beers you thought would be great but end up being disappointing. Don’t be ashamed to use the spit buckets stationed near every table. If you feel like one sip is enough but still have more in your glass, dump the rest into the bucket and move on.” I think he means the “dump buckets,” which is what they’re called in the beer world, but it almost sounds like he’s suggesting not swallowing at least that first sip, a pretty important step in fully tasting any beer. I know judges who occasionally spit second, third, etc. sips when tasting a large number of beers, but that first sip, at least, must be swallowed.

But back to his list, with which, in fact, I can’t disagree with any of his choices except for one, though to be fair I haven’t tried the new Game Day Light. I received an offer to get samples, but maybe I should answer it after all, just to be sure. But the beer I strongly disagree with is the Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic. It’s not that I’d champion it as one of the world’s best, but from his write-up it appears Benn doesn’t realize that beer has been around since 1990 and the sweetness he finds so distasteful is from maple syrup. While the Sam Adams’ version of a lambic may not make my top 100 beers, it’s nowhere near my bottom 100 and I can think of sweeter, less appealing fruit lambics just off the top of my head.

Here’s Esquire’s list:

  1. Bud Light & Clamato Chelada
  2. 7-11 Game Day Light
  3. Rock Ice
  4. Sleeman Clear
  5. Michelob Ultra Pomegranate Raspberry
  6. Camo 24 Extra Smooth Super Premium High Gravity Lager xxXxx
  7. MGD 64
  8. Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic
  9. Olde English 800

Why nine, and not ten — especially with so many bad beers out there — I can’t explain. But there are certainly many more beers that I’d put on such a list, beers that if offered to me outside of work, I’d politely decline. Corona and Heineken (and their light versions) leap to mind, as does Stella Artois and most of the nearly interchangeable American-style, European-style, New Zealand-style, Latin American-style, etc. mass produced light lagers. It’s not that they’re poorly made, in fact most are quite well-constructed, but I’m still not interested in drinking them. I want something with flavor … or more flavor, at least.

What beers would make your list of the worst?