Homebrewers Pick The Best Beers In America 2016

aha-new
For the 14th straight year, the readers of Zymurgy magazine were asked to send in a list of their 20 favorite commercially available beers. With a record number of votes in the poll’s fourteenth year — over 18,000 votes. The results were not exactly shocking, and most of the beers and breweries that got the most votes were what you’d expect, I think, but it’s an interesting list all the same, but boy is there a lot of complaining going on in the comments. The results are, as usual, printed in the latest issue, July 2016.
best-beers-amer
Top Rated Beers
KEY: T indicates tie / (#) indicates rank last year / [Arrow indicates their movement over the previous year].

Four of the top ten are California beers (the same number as last year), with again 24 making the list. This is the eighth year in a row AHA members chose Pliny the Elder as the top beer. This also the seventh consecutive year that Bell’s Two Hearted Ale came in second.

1. Russian River Pliny the Elder [↔]
2. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale [↔]
3. The Alchemist Heady Topper (6) [↑3]
4. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA (3) [↓1]
5. Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin (T33) [↑28]
6. Founders Breakfast Stout (5) [↓1]
7. Three Floyds Zombie Dust (8) [↑1]
8. Bell’s Hopslam Ale (7) [↓1]
9. Goose Island Bourbon Country Brand Stout (15) [↑6]
T10. Stone Enjoy By IPA (4) [↓4]
T10. Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA [↔]
12. Founders KBS (17) [↑5]
13. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (T12) [↓1]
14. Lawson’s Finest Liquids Sip of Sunshine (not on last year’s list)
15. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA (9) [↓6]
T16. Founders All Day IPA (27) [↑11]
T16. Sierra Nevada Celebration (T28) [↑12]
18. Cigar City Jai Alai (40) [↑22]
19. Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale (T33) [↑14]
20. Firestone Walker Wookey Jack (10) [↓10]
21. Arrogant Bastard Ale (T17) [↓4]
22. Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ (32) [↑10]
23. Deschutes Black Butte Porter (21) [↓2]
T24. Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro (T12) [↓12]
T24. Tröegs Nugget Nectar [↔]
26. Firestone Walker Union Jack (T22) [↓4]
T27. Founders Backwoods Bastard (44) [↑17]
T27. Russian River Blind Pig I.P.A. (16) [↓11]
T29. Lagunitas IPA (30) [↑1]
T29. Odell IPA (T24) [↓5]
T29. Russian River Consecration (T19) [↓10]
32. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA (T12) [↓20]
33. Tree House Julius (not on last year’s list)
T34. Ballast Point Victory at Sea (T49) [↑15]
T34. Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA (T28) [↓6]
T34. Fat Head’s Head Hunter (T45) [↑11]
T34. Firestone Walker Double Jack (T24) [↓10]
38. North Coast Old Rasputin (31) [↓7]
T39. Oskar Blues Ten Fidy [↔]
T39. Russian River Supplication (T19) [↓20]
T39. Topping Goliath pesudoSue (not on last year’s list)
T42. Firestone Walker Parabola (T22) [↓20]
T42. Surly Todd the Axe Man (not on last year’s list)
44. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (T41) [↓3]
45. Russian River Pliny the Younger (T49) [↑4]
T46. Prairie Artisan Ales Bomb! (not on last year’s list)
T46. Surly Furious (35) [↓11]
T46. Victory DirtWolf Double IPA (T45) [↑1]
49. Maine Beer Lunch (not on last year’s list)
T50. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (not on last year’s list)
T50. New Belgium La Folie (T41) [↓9]

Brewery Rankings

Brewery rankings are based on total votes received by each brewery’s beers. This year’s top brewery is the same as last year, Russian River Brewing Co., in Santa Rosa, Calif. Russian River again placed five beers in the top 50, including both its Plinys. Founders Brewing finished second, while Bell’s Brewery came in third. Six California breweries made the list (two less than last year), with five from Colorado, and two each from Michigan and Pennsylvania. Again, (#) indicates their rank last year, while [Arrow indicates their movement over the previous year].

1. Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, CA [↔]
2. Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, MI (4) [↑2]
3. Bell’s Brewery, Inc., Kalamazoo, MI [↔]
4. Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, CA (2) [↓2]
5. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA & Mill River, NC (6) [↑1]
6. Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA (5) [↓1]
7. Ballast Point Brewing, San Diego, CA (9) [↑2]
8. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE (7) [↓1]
9. Lagunitas Brewing Co., Petaluma, CA & Chicago, IL (8) [↓1]
10. Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR [↔]
11. Avery Brewing Co., Boulder, CO (12) [↑1]
12. Three Floyds Brewing Co., Munster, IN (14) [↑2]
13. New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO (11) [↓2]
14. Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, IL (16) [↑2]
15. Surly Brewing Co., Minneapolis, MN (18) [↑3]
16. Oskar Blues Brewery, Longmont, CO (15) [↓1]
17. The Alchemist, Waterbury, VT (not on last year’s list)
T18. Boulevard Brewing Co., Kansas City, MO (not on last year’s list)
T18. Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO (13) [↓5]
20. New Glarius Brewing Co., New Glarus, WI (17) [↓3]
21. Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL (T23) [↑2]
22. Victory Brewing Co., Downington, PA (T25) [↑3]
23. Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, CO (not on last year’s list)
24. Tree House Brewing, Monson, MA (not on last year’s list)
25. Tröegs Brewing Co., Hershey, PA (19) [↓6]

Best Portfolio

They also determined which breweries got the most votes for different beers that they produce, and called that list “best portfolio.” The number following their name is how many of their beers got at least one vote. (#) indicates their rank last year, while [Arrow indicates their movement over the previous year].

1. Stone Brewing Co. [67 Beers] (2) [↑1]
T2. Bell’s Brewery, Inc. [47 Beers] (3) [↑1]
T2. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. [47 Beers] (1) [↓1]
4. Avery Brewing Co. [42 Beers] (5) [↑1]
5. New Belgium Brewing [41 Beers] (4) [↓1]
6. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery [39 Beers] (T6) [↔]
T7. Firestone Walker Brewing Co. [38 Beers] (T8) [↑1]
T7. The Bruery [38 Beers] (T8) [↑1]
9. Boulevard Brewing Co. [37 Beers] (not on last year’s list)
10. Founders Brewing Co. [33 Beers] (not on last year’s list)

Top Imports

With a few ties, several imports also received votes as readers’ favorite beers. For at least a third year in a row, Unibroue’s La Fin du Monde claimed the number one spot among imports. Again, (#) indicates their rank last year, while [Arrow indicates their movement over the previous year].

1. Unibroue La Fin Du Monde, Canada [↔]
T2. St. Bernardus Abt 12, Belgium (2) [↔]
T2. Guinness Draught, Ireland (4) [↑2]
4. Saison Dupont, Belgium (5) [↑1]
T5. Orval, Belgium (T6) [↑1]
T5. Rodenbach Grand Cru, Belgium (3) [↓2]
7. Chimay Grande Reserve/Blue Label, Belgium (T6) [↓1]
8. Duchess De Bourgogne (not on last year’s list)
9. Weihenstephan Hefeweissbier, Germany [↔]
10 Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout, England (8) [↓2]

Homebrewers Pick The Best Beers In America 2015

aha-new
For the 13th straight year, the readers of Zymurgy magazine were asked to send in a list of their 20 favorite commercially available beers. With a record number of votes in the poll’s thirteenth year, over 1,900 different breweries were represented in the voting. The results were not exactly shocking, and most of the beers and breweries that got the most votes were what you’d expect, I think, but it’s an interesting list all the same. The results are, as usual, printed in the latest issue, July 2015.
best-beers-amer
Top Rated Beers
KEY: T indicates tie / (#) indicates rank last year / [Arrow indicates their movement over the previous year].

Four of the top ten are California beers (the same number as last year), with again 24 making the list. This is the seventh year in a row AHA members chose Pliny the Elder as the top beer. This also the sixth consecutive year that Bell’s Two Hearted Ale came in second.

1. Russian River Pliny the Elder [↔]
2. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale [↔]
3. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA [↔]
4. Stone Enjoy By IPA (8) [↑4]
5. Founders Breakfast Stout (9) [↑4]
6. The Alchemist Heady Topper (5) [↑1]
7. Bell’s Hopslam Ale (4) [↓3]
8. Three Floyds Zombie Dust (14) [↑6]
9. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA (7) [↓2]
10. Firestone Walker Wookey Jack (13) [↑3]
11. Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA (not on last year’s list)
T12. Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro (not on last year’s list, though plain Milk Stout was 29)
T12. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale [↔]
T12. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA (20) [↑8]
15. Goose Island Bourbon Country Stout (10) [↓5]
16. Russian River Blind Pig I.P.A. (22) [↑6]
T17. Arrogant Bastard Ale (18) [↑1]
T17. Founders KBS (11) [↓6]
T19. Russian River Consecration (39) [↑20]
T19. Russian River Supplication (30) [↑11]
21. Deschutes Black Butte Porter (23) [↑2]
T22. Firestone Walker Parabola (not on last year’s list)
T22. Firestone Walker Union Jack (18) [↓4]
T24. Firestone Walker Double Jack (15) [↓9]
T24. Odell IPA (49) [↑25]
T24. Tröegs Nugget Nectar (39) [↑15]
27. Founders All Day IPA (34) [↑7]
T28. Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA (27) [↓1]
T28. Sierra Nevada Celebration (15) [↓13]
30. Lagunitas IPA (38) [↑8]
31. North Coast Old Rasputin (23) [↓8]
32. Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ (15) [↓17]
T33. Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin (not on last year’s list)
T33. Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale (25) [↓8]
35. Surly Furious (32) [↓3]
36. Stone Ruination IPA (26) [↓10]
37. Deschutes The Abyss (41) [↑4]
38. Green Flash West Coast IPA (31) [↓7]
39. Oskar Blues Ten Fidy (44) [↓5]
40. Cigar City Jai Alai (42) [↓2]
T41. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (47) [↑6]
T41. New Belgium La Folie (33) [↓8]
43. Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale (36) [↓7]
44. Founders Backwoods Bastard (49) [↑5]
T45. Victory DirtWolf Double IPA (not on last year’s list)
T45. Fat Head’s Head Hunter (not on last year’s list)
T45. Lagunitas Sucks (6) [↓39]
T45. Stone IPA (37) [↓8]
T49. Odell Myrcenary (not on last year’s list)
T49. Russian River Pliny the Younger (28) [↓21]
T49. Ballast Point Victory at Sea (not on last year’s list)

Brewery Rankings

Brewery rankings are based on total votes received by each brewery’s beers. This year’s top brewery is the same as last year, Russian River Brewing Co., in Santa Rosa, Calif. Russian River placed five beers in the top 50, including both its Plinys. Stone Brewing finished second, while Bell’s Brewery came in third, exchanging places from last year.

finished second, while last year’s winner, Stone Brewing Co., came in third this year. Eight California breweries made the list (one more than last year), with five from Colorado, and two each from Michigan and Pennsylvania. Again, (#) indicates their rank last year, while [Arrow indicates their movement over the previous year].

1. Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, CA [↔]
2. Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, CA (3) [↑1]
3. Bell’s Brewery, Inc., Kalamazoo, MI (2) [↓1]
4. Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, MI (6) [↑2]
5. Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA (7) [↑2]
6. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA & Mill River, NC (5) [↑1]
7. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE (4) [↓3]
8. Lagunitas Brewing Co., Petaluma, CA & Chicago, IL [↔]
9. Ballast Point Brewing, San Diego, CA (13) [↑4]
10. Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR (9) [↓1]
11. New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO (10) [↓1]
12. Avery Brewing Co., Boulder, CO (20) [↑8]
13. Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO (14) [↑1]
14. Three Floyds Brewing Co., Munster, IN (11) [↓3]
15. Oskar Blues Brewery, Longmont, CO (17) [↑2]
16. Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, IL (12) [↑4]
17. New Glarius Brewing Co., New Glarus, WI (18) [↑1]
18. Surly Brewing Co., Minneapolis, MN (21) [↑3]
19. Tröegs Brewing Co., Hershey, PA (not on last year’s list)
20. The Bruery, Placentia, CA (not on last year’s list)
21. Green Flash Brewing Co., San Diego, CA (not on last year’s list)
22. The Boston Beer Co., Boston, MA (15) [↓7]
T23. Great Divide Brewing Co., Denver, CO (22) [↓1]
T23. Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL (not on last year’s list)
T25. Victory Brewing Co., Downington, PA (19) [↓6]

Best Portfolio

They also determined which breweries got the most votes for different beers that they produce, and called that list “best portfolio.” The number following their name is how many of their beers got at least one vote. (#) indicates their rank last year, while [Arrow indicates their movement over the previous year].

1. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. [60 Beers] (3) [↑2]
2. Stone Brewing Co. [54 Beers] (5) [↑3]
3. Bell’s Brewery, Inc. [52 Beers] (6) [↑3]
4. New Belgium Brewing [47 Beers] (1) [↓3]
5. Avery Brewing Co. [39 Beers] (10) [↑5]
T6. Goose Island Beer Co. [37 Beers] (10) [↑4]
T6. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery [37 Beers] (4) [↓2]
T8. Firestone Walker Brewing Co. [35 Beers] (not on last year’s list)
T8. The Boston Beer Co. (Samuel Adams) [35 Beers] (2) [↓6]
T8. The Bruery [35 Beers] (9) [↓1]

Top Imports

With a few ties, several imports also received votes as readers’ favorite beers. For at least a second year in a row, Unibroue’s La Fin du Monde claimed the number one spot among imports. Again, (#) indicates their rank last year, while [Arrow indicates their movement over the previous year].

1. Unibroue La Fin Du Monde, Canada [↔]
2. St. Bernardus Abt 12, Belgium (3) [↓1]
3. Rodenbach Grand Cru, Belgium (5) [↑2]
4. Guinness Draught, Ireland (1) [↓3]
5. Saison Dupont, Belgium (not on last year’s list)
T6. Orval, Belgium (not on last year’s list)
T6. Chimay Grande Reserve/Blue Label, Belgium (not on last year’s list)
8 Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout, England (not on last year’s list)
T9. Weihenstephan Hefeweissbier, Germany (not on last year’s list)
T9. Cantillon Gueuze, Belgium (not on last year’s list)

Homebrewers Pick The Best Beers In America 2014

aha-new
For the 12th straight year, the readers of Zymurgy magazine were asked to send in a list of their 20 favorite commercially available beers. With a record number of votes in the poll’s twelfth year, over 1,600 different breweries were represented in the voting. The results were not exactly shocking, and most of the beers and breweries that got the most votes were what you’d expect, I think, but it’s an interesting list all the same. The results are, as usual, printed in the latest issue, July 2014.
best-beers-amer
Top Rated Beers
KEY: T indicates tie / (#) indicates rank last year / No # indicates same rank as last year

Four of the top ten are California beers (there were seven last year), with 24 making the list. This is the sixth year in a row AHA members chose Pliny the Elder as the top beer. This also the fifth consecutive year that Bell’s Two Hearted Ale came in second.

1. Russian River Pliny the Elder
2. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
3. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA (5)
4. Bell’s Hopslam
5. The Alchemist Heady Topper (16)
6. Lagunitas Sucks (9)
7. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA (3)
8. Stone Enjoy By IPA (12)
9. Founders Breakfast Stout (6)
10. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (25)
11. Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout (17)
12. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (15)
13. Firestone Walker Wookey Jack (20)
14. Three Floyds Zombie Dust (21)
T15. Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ (23)
T15. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (9)
17. Firestone Walker Double Jack
T18. Firestone Walker Union Jack (23)
T18. Arrogant Bastard Ale (7)
20. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA (12)
21. Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA (8)
22. Russian River Blind Pig I.P.A. (42)
T23. Deschutes Black Butte Porter (27)
T23. North Coast Old Rasputin (12)
25. Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale (32)
26. Stone Ruination IPA (9)
27. Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA (not on last year’s list)
28. Russian River Pliny the Younger (39)
29. Left Hand Milk Stout (39)
30. Russian River Supplication (32)
31. Green Flash West Coast IPA (27)
32. Surly Furious (26)
33. New Belgium La Folie (32)
T34. Founders All Day IPA (not on last year’s list)
T34. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (30)
36. Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale (19)
37. Stone IPA
38. Lagunitas IPA (36)
T39. Russian River Consecration (31)
T39. Troegs Nugget Nectar (27)
41. Deschutes the Abyss (48)
42. Cigar City Jai Alai IPA (not on last year’s list)
43. Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA (21)
44. Oskar Blues Ten Fidy (not on last year’s list)
45. Surly Abrasive IPA (not on last year’s list)
46. New Belgium Ranger IPA (not on last year’s list)
T47. Ommegang Three Philosophers (48)
T47. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (39)
T49. Founders Backwoods Bastard (not on last year’s list)
T49. Odell IPA (38)

Brewery Rankings

Brewery rankings are based on total votes received by each brewery’s beers. This year’s top brewery is Russian River Brewing Co., in Santa Rosa, Calif. Russian River placed five beers in the top 50, including both its Plinys. Bell’s Brewery finished second, while last year’s winner, Stone Brewing Co., came in third this year. Seven California breweries made the list, with six from Colorado, and two from Michigan. Again, (#) indicates their rank last year.

1. Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, Calif. (2)
2. Bell’s Brewery, Kalamazoo, Mich. (5)
3. Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, Calif. (1)
4. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, Del.
5. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, Calif. (3)
6. Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich. (6)
7. Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, Calif. (6)
8. Lagunitas Brewing Co., Petaluma, Calif.
9. Deschutes Brewery, Bend, Ore. (10)
10. New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, Colo. (9)
11. Three Floyds Brewing Co., Munster, Ind. (12)
12. Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, Ill. (18)
13. Ballast Point Brewing Co., San Diego, Calif. (not on last year’s list)
14. Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins, Colo. (11)
15. The Boston Beer Co., Boston, Mass. (16)
16. Boulevard Brewing Co., Kansas City, Mo. (17)
17. Oskar Blues Brewery, Longmont, Colo. (14)
18. New Glarus Brewing Co., New Glarus, Wis. (19)
19. Victory Brewing Co., Downington, Pa. (24)
20. Avery Brewing Co., Boulder, Colo. (13)
21. Surly Brewing Co., Minneapolis, Minn. (not on last year’s list)
22. Great Divide Brewing Co., Denver, Colo. (20)
23. Great Lakes Brewing Co., Cleveland, Ohio
24. The Bruery, Placentia, Calif. (not on last year’s list)
25. Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, Colo. (not on last year’s list)

Best Portfolio

They also determined which breweries got the most votes for different beers that they produce, and called that list “best portfolio.” The number following their name is how many of their beers got at least one vote. [#] indicates their rank last year.

1. New Belgium Brewing (60 beers) [7]
2. The Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) (53 beers) [1]
3. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (49 beers) [5]
4. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (48 beers) [2]
5. Stone Brewing Co. (46 beers) [8]
T6. Bell’s Brewery (41 beers) [6]
T6. Short’s Brewing Co. (41 beers) [not on last year’s list]
8. Deschutes Brewery (40 beers) [10]
9. The Bruery (38 beers) [11]
T10. Avery Brewing Company (37 beers) [3]
T10. Boulevard Brewing Company (37 beers) [9]
T10. Goose Island Beer Company (26 beers) [8]

Top Imports

With a lot of ties, a few imports also received votes as readers’ favorite beers. As in years past, there was a decidedly all-American bent to the voting. Of the top 50 beers in the poll, none were produced by a foreign brewery, although Unibroue’s La Fin du Monde claimed the number one spot among imports. Again, [#] indicates their rank last year.

T1. Unibroue La Fin du Monde (Canada) [4]
T1. Guinness Draught (Ireland) [3]
3. St. Bernardus Abt 12 (Belgium) [6]
4. Westvletern XII (Belgium) [not on last year’s list]
T5. Rodenbach Grand Cru (Belgium) [4]
T5. Duvel (Belgium) [10]

Homebrewing Finally Legal In All 50 States

aha-new
As Mississippi’s ban on homebrewing was lifted today, for the first time since Prohibition made brewing illegal in 1919, homebrewing is finally allowed in all fifty states. My only comment is it’s about damn time. That a supposed clerical error — a typo — made home winemaking legal after prohibition ended while keeping homebrewing illegal is the biggest anti-alcohol bullshit move of all-time, especially when you consider it took a full seventy years to correct that “typo,” at least for all states. The American Homebrewers Association released a statement this morning, as did the Brewers Association:

Unifying the United States homebrew community has long been an aspiration of the American Homebrewers Association (AHA), and we are proud to announce this goal has been achieved with the help of countless dedicated homebrewers and AHA members like you. July 1, 2013 marks the day Mississippi lifts its homebrew restriction, unifying homebrewers in all fifty states for the first time since before prohibition.

Beer history in the United States region predates the very existence of the country as we know it. Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere produced a watery maize-beer, a pre-cursor to modern American adjunct beer, and as the earliest explorers settled down in the New World, America’s contemporary brewing culture was born.

“From our nation’s founders to our current President, this country has a long and storied tradition of homebrewing,” said AHA director Gary Glass.

Even after prohibition was eradicated with the implementation of the 21st Amendment in 1933, homebrewers would still be criminals in the eyes of the federal law for over four-and-a-half decades. President Jimmy Carter signed a bill that went into effect on February 1, 1979 federally legalizing homebrewing, but it remained up to each state to determine their individual alcohol policies, including home beer production. Over the course of the next forty-six years, states adopted legislation, permitting the making of beer at home.

It’s terrific news that finally homebrewing is permitted in every state. It’s been a long time coming.

ask-me-homebrew