Homebrewers Pick The Best Beers In America 2014

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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.
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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]

Beer Birthday: Drew Beechum

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Today is the 40th birthday of Drew Beechum, who’s a past president of the Maltose Falcons homebrewing club and its current webmeister. He’s also the author of The Everything Homebrewing Book: All you need to brew the best beer at home! and writes a regular column for Beer Advocate magazine. Join me in wishing Drew a very happy birthday.

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Drew’s Facebook Profile picture.

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Drew at 21st Amendment.

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Drew in a Jayne hat — from Firefly — with his fiancee, Amy.

NOTE: All photos purloined from Facebook.

Beer Birthday: Gary Glass

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Today is the 41st birthday of Gary Glass, Director of the American Homebrewers Association. Gary’s been with the Brewers Association for many a moon and has become the face of homebrewing in America. Join me in wishing Gary a very happy birthday. And relax, drink a homebrew, if you have one.

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Gary at Anchor Brewery with his wife Erin after an AHA rally there in 2008.

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Gary talking with Fred Eckhardt at Hopworks Urban Brewery, flanked by Christian Ettinger and Brian Butenschoen, Oregon Brewers Guild Director. Photo by Oregon Brewers Guild.

Beer In Film #58: A Chat With Ron Pattinson

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Today’s beer video is a short interview of beer historian Ron Pattinson, the description for which reads. “Ron talks old beers with Bocky whilst sitting next to a very bad gnome. Find out about the latest Once Upon A Time Beers as well as Ron’s pursuit of the truth about porters.”

Beer Birthday: Charlie Papazian

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Today is the 65th birthday of Charlie Papazian, one of the most influential persons in modern brewing. Charlie founded the AHA, the AOB and the IBS back in 1978 (which today is the Brewers Association) and organized the first Great American Beer Festival. His book, the Complete Joy of Homebrewing was one of the seminal works on the subject, and is now in its fourth edition. Join me in wishing Charlie a very happy birthday.

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My favorite press photo of Charlie.

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Just before taking the stage during GABF 2007, from left, Glenn Payne (of Meantime Brewing), Charlie, Mark Dorber (formerly of the White Horse on Parson’s Green but now at the Anchor Pub), Garrett Oliver, and Steve Hindy (both from Brooklyn Brewing), Dave Alexander (from the Brickskeller), and Tom Dalldorf (from the Celebrator Beer News).

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Some NBWA luminaries at the 2008 NBWA welcome reception. From left, Jamie Jurado (with Gambrinus), Lucy Saunders (the Beer Cook), Charlie Papazian (President of the Brewers Association), Kim Jordan (from New Belgium Brewing) and Tom Dalldorf (from the Celebrator Beer News).

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On stage at the Beer Wars Live premiere with Ben Stein and Greg Koch.

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Charlie with Pete Slosberg at last year’s Craft Brewers Conference in San francisco.

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Of the literally hundreds of GABF and World Beer Cup award-accepting photos I have with Charlie in them, this is one of my favorites.