Homebrewers Pick The Best Beers In America 2013

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For the 11th 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 eleventh year, over 1,100 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 also printed in the latest issue.
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Top Rated Beers
(T indicates tie)

Seven of the top ten are California beers, with 26 making the list. This is the fifth year in a row AHA members chose Pliny the Elder as the top beer. This also the fourth consecutive year that Bell’s Two Hearted Ale came in second.

1. Russian River Pliny the Elder
2. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
3. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
4. Bell’s Hopslam Ale
5. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
6. Founders Breakfast Stout
7. Arrogant Bastard Ale
8. Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA
T9. Lagunitas Sucks
T9. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
T9. Stone Ruination IPA
T12. North Coast Old Rasputin
T12. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA
T12. Stone Enjoy By IPA
15. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
16. The Alchemist Heady Topper
T17. Firestone Walker Double Jack
T17. Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
19. Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale
20. Firestone Walker Wookey Jack
T21. Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA
T21. Three Floyds Zombie Dust
T23. Firestone Walker Union Jack
T23. Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’
25. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
26. Surly Furious
T27. Deschutes Black Butte Porter
T27. Green Flash West Coast IPA
T27. Troegs Nugget Nectar
30. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
31. Russian River Consecration
T32. Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale
T32. New Belgium La Folie
T32. Russian River Supplication
35. Avery the Maharaja
36. Lagunitas IPA
37. Stone IPA
38. Odell IPA
T39. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald
T39. Left Hand Milk Stout
T39. Russian River Pliny the Younger
T42. Odell Myrcenary
T42. Russian River Blind Pig I.P.A.
T42. Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous
45. Firestone Walker Parabola
T46. Ommegang Hennepin Saison Ale
T46. Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro
T48. Ommegang Three Philosophers
T48. Deschutes the Abyss
T48. Green Flash Palate Wrecker
T48. Lagunitas Brown Shugga’

Brewery Rankings

Brewery rankings are based on total votes received by each brewery’s beers. This year’s top brewery is Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido, Calif. Stone placed five beers in the top 50, including its Arrogant Bastard Ale. Best Beer in America producer, Russian River Brewing Company finished second. Seven California breweries made the list, with five from Colorado, and two apiece from Michigan and Pennsylvania.

1. Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, Calif.
2. Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa, Calif.
3. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico, Calif.
4. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, Del.
5. Bell’s Brewery, Kalamazoo, Mich.
6. Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Paso Robles, Calif.
7. Founders Brewing Company, Grand Rapids, Mich.
8. Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma, Calif.
9. New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins, Colo.
10. Deschutes Brewery, Bend, Ore.
11. Odell Brewing Company, Fort Collins, Colo.
12. Three Floyds Brewing Company, Munster, Ind.
13. Avery Brewing Company, Boulder, Colo.
14. Oskar Blues Brewery, Longmont, Colo.
15. Green Flash Brewing Company, San Diego, Calif.
16. The Boston Beer Company, Boston, Mass.
17. Boulevard Brewing Company, Kansas City, Mo.
18. Goose Island Beer Company, Chicago, Ill.
19. New Glarus Brewing Company, New Glarus, Wis.
T20. Great Divide Brewing Company, Denver, Colo.
T20. Ballast Point Brewing Company, San Diego, Calif.
22. Troegs Brewing Co., Hershey, Pa.
23. Great Lakes Brewing Company, Cleveland, Ohio
24. Victory Brewing Company, Downington, Pa.
25. Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, N.Y.

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.

1. The Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) (40 beers)
2. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (38 beers)
3. Avery Brewing Company (35 beers)
4. Cigar City Brewing (30 beers)
5. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (29 beers)
6. Bell’s Brewery (28 beers)
7. New Belgium Brewing (27 beers)
T8. Stone Brewing Co. (26 beers)
T8. Goose Island Beer Company (26 beers)
9. Boulevard Brewing Company (25 beers)
10. Deschutes Brewery (24 beers)
T11. Foudners Brewing Company (23 beers)
T11. New Glarus Brewing Company (23 beers)
T11. The Bruery (23 beers)
T11. The Saint Louis Brewery (23 beers)
T15. Rogue Ales (21 beers)
T15. Lagunitas Brewing Company (21 beers)
T15. Odell Brewing Company (21 beers)
T15. Great Divide Brewing Company (21 beers)
T19. Firestone Walker Brewing Company (20 beers)
T19. Three Floyds Brewing Company (20 beers)
T19. Manayunk Brewing Company (19 beers)
22. Papago Brewing Company (19 beers)
T23. Great Lakes Brewing Company (18 beers)
T23. Southern Tier Brewing Company (18 beers)
T23. Victory Brewing Company (18 beers)
T23. Russian River Brewing Company (18 beers)

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 Orval claimed the number one spot among imports.

T1. Orval (Belgium)
T1. Saison Dupont (Belgium)
3. Guinness Draught (Ireland)
T4. Rodenbach Grand Cru (Belgium)
T4. Unibroue La Fin du Monde (Canada)
6. St. Bernardust Abt 12 (Belgium)
7. Duchesse De Bourgogne (Belgium)
T8. Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout (England)
T8. Chimay Grande Reserve/Blue Label (Belgium)
T10. Duvel (Belgium)
T10. Cantillon Gueuze (Belgium)

Codex Fermentarius

10-commandments
Here’s another interesting list of the The Brewer’s Ten Commandment, this one more contemporary. It was created by Kelly Ryan, my friend Luke’s assistant brewer at Epic Brewing in New Zealand. He apparently recently left to take a job at a new brewpub in Hamilton, and on his new blog, BeeRevolution, proposed the following as his Codex Fermentarius:

Codex Fermentarius

  1. Thou shalt not covet another brewers’ kegs or casks.
  2. Honour thy other brewer’s recipe choice.
  3. Rejoice to thy daughter yeast and thy mother yeast.
  4. Thy glass shalt always be full. Never half full. Never half empty.
  5. Remember thy first brew day. And keep it holy.
  6. Thou shalt not steal another brewer’s hop combination. This is hopdultery.
  7. Thou shalt not covet another brewery’s name. Or beer name. Especially if it is that of a German cyclist.
  8. Seven days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work. Thou art a brewer. Drinking is work.
  9. Taste thy water, taste thy malted grains, taste thy yeast. Don’t taste thy hop flowers.
  10. Thou shalt not drink false beverages. We know what thee are.

In the body of the text, Ryan also offered to expand the list, and invited people to suggest additional commandments. Here’s a sample of some of the ones he got so far:

  • Release not the fruits of thy labour until thou has rested (at least) upon the seventh day (to banish all traces of the unholy VDK).
  • Thou shall wasteth NO beer. Even if it is 8am.
  • Thou shalt have no other beverage before Beer. A whiskey chaser afterwards, fine, but not before.
  • Ever shalt thou have full tanks and clean lines.
  • Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s brewsheet.
  • Thou shall worship local brews, locally – only if your hair doesn’t drop out.
  • Thou shall cry over spilt beer.
  • Thou shall burp as a sign of worship.

There’s some good ones in there. What would you add?

The Brewer’s 10 Commandments

10-commandments
Here’s an interesting list of the The Brewer’s 10 Commandments, or Die 10 Gebote des Bierbrauers, that I found on the website for the Museum of Beer & Brewing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It’s origin is apparently from “the Brewers 1887 Convention.”

The Brewer’s 10 Commandments

  1. Thou shalt love the god Gambrinus above all and not cloud his honor with bad beer.
  2. Thou shalt not honor any other beer gods and not stretch your beers with chemical additions.
  3. Thou shalt brew good beer during the week so the people can become healthy again on Sundays.
  4. Thou shalt obey mother Hops and father Barley, honor them as providers of your wealth.
  5. Thou shalt not kill, with beers of poor quality.
  6. Thou shalt watch your taverner more, than the pretty waitresses and women.
  7. Thou shalt not steal money from the people’s pockets, nor fill kegs and bottles with water.
  8. Thou shalt not mix unlawful materials into the beer, nor sell bad beer as good.
  9. Thou shalt not expect more from the people than thy beer hath worth because there is already enough poor quality on the market.
  10. Thou shalt not demand that your wife, children and workers drink your beer if it is spoiled, watered down or of poor taste.

Travel Channel Picks The “Top 7 Beer Destinations”

top-7
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

catholic-vatican
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.

Travel + Leisure Chooses The Best American Beer Cities

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Travel + Leisure magazine, in their July 2011 issue, made their picks for America’s Best Beer Cities. Actually, the title is a bit misleading. It’s not really the “best” cities so much as the most “popular;” and most popular according to the magazine’s readers; and not all of their readers but specifically the ones who took the time to answer the poll. Looking more closely, the readers polled were asked to choose among 35 pre-chosen cities, too, meaning there was no chance for any town not on the starting list, too. Asheville, NC, for example, was presumably not among the 35 cities on Travel + Leisure’s list.

So that’s a very different thing and probably accounts for what I can only describe as some odd, but interesting, inconsistencies with other similar polls. Certainly Portland deserves the top spot, though it probably goes without saying I’d place San Francisco a tad higher than ninth. But Philly fourth from the cellar — along with San Diego even lower? — that seems like a travesty.

It does, however, tell us how people who like travel enough to subscribe to a periodical devoted to it perceive which cities are best for beer. Undoubtedly, many people voted for their local city so in a sense it’s partly a reflection of the magazine’s geographic readership. But that probably doesn’t tell the whole story. When asked to rank 35 cities, most people (apart from the very well traveled) I’d wager have not been to all of the cities. That would mean they’d be inclined to go with what they’d heard or read about the cities they hadn’t personally visited. They’d make a value judgment based on that particular city’s perception of beer-worthiness. Seen through that prism, it’s a more interesting list, to me at least. It also means I need to visit Savannah. What’s your take on the list?

Travel + Leisure’s 2011 Poll: America’s Best Beer Cities

  1. Portland, OR
  2. Denver, CO
  3. Seattle, WA
  4. Providence, RI
  5. Portland, ME
  6. Savannah, GA
  7. Boston, MA
  8. Austin, TX
  9. San Francisco, CA
  10. Nashville, TN
  11. Kansas City, MO
  12. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
  13. Charleston, SC
  14. Chicago, IL
  15. Anchorage, AK
  16. New Orleans, LA
  17. Philadelphia, PA
  18. San Diego, CA
  19. Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ
  20. Houston, TX

Best Beers In America 2011

usa
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 third year, 1,306 different beers from 433 breweries made the full list. 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 also printed in the latest issue.

Zymurgy-2011

Top Rated Beers
(T indicates tie)

Six of the top ten are California beers, with sixteen making the list.

1. Russian River Pliny the Elder
2. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
T3. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
T3. Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
5. Bell’s Hopslam
6. Stone Arrogant Bastard
7. Sierra Nevada Celebration
T8. Sierra Nevada Torpedo
T8. Stone Ruination
10. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
11. Stone Sublimely Self Righteous
12. Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine
13. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
T14. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter
T14. Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale
T16. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
T16. New Glarus Belgian Red
18. North Coast Old Rasputin
19. Bell’s Expedition Stout
T20. Deschutes The Abyss
T20. Left Hand Milk Stout
T20. Odell IPA
T20. Samuel Adams Noble Pils
T20. Surly Furious
T20. Troegs Nugget Nectar
T26. Rogue Dead Guy Ale
T26. Samuel Adams Boston Lager
28. Anchor Steam
T29. Bear Republic Racer 5
T29. Ommegang Three Philosophers
T29. Oskar Blues Ten Fidy
T29. Three Floyds Alpha King
T29. Three Floyds Dark Lord
T34. Avery Maharaja
T34. Dogfish Head Indian Brown
T34. Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron
T34. Three Floyds Gumballhead
T38. Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA
T38. Lost Abbey Angel’s Share
T38. New Belgium La Folie
T38. New Belgium Ranger
T38. Oskar Blues Old Chub
T43. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
T43. Great Divide Yeti
T43. New Belgium 1554
T43. Russian River Blind Pig
T43. Ska Modus Hoperandi
T48. Alesmith Speedway Stout
T48. Dark Horse Crooked Tree
T48. Green Flash West Coast IPA
T48. Summit EPA
T48. Victory Prima Pils

Brewery Rankings

Based on the total number of votes a beer from the same brewery received, the following list is of the top 50 breweries based on the voting. Seven California breweries made the list, with six from Colorado, and two apiece from Michigan and Oregon.

1. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, Del.
2. Bell’s Brewery, Kalamazoo, Mich.
3. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, Calif.
4. Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, Calif.
5. Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, Calif.
6. Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.
7. New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, Colo.
8. Boston Beer Co. (Samuel Adams), Boston, Mass.
9. Three Floyds Brewing Co., Munster, Ind.
10. Oskar Blues Brewing Co., Longmont, Colo.
11. Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, Ill.
T12. Lagunitas Brewing Co., Petaluma, Calif.
T12. New Glarus Brewing Co., New Glarus, Wis.
14. Deschutes Brewery, Bend, Ore.
15. Great Lakes Brewing Co., Cleveland, Ohio
16. Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins, Colo.
17. Avery Brewing Co., Boulder, Colo.
18. Great Divide Brewing Co., Denver, Colo.
19. Victory Brewing Co., Downington, Pa.
20. Surly Brewing Co., Minneapolis, Minn.
21. Rogue Ales, Newport, Ore.
22. Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, Calif.
T23. Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, N.Y.
T23. North Coast Brewing Co., Fort Bragg, Calif.
T24. Bear Republic Brewing Co., Healdsburg, Calif.
T24. Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, Colo.

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.

1. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, 28 beers
2. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., 23 beers
T3. Avery Brewing Co., 18 beers
T3. Goose Island Beer Co., 18 beers
T3. Lagunitas Brewing Co., 18 beers
T3. Boston Beer Co./Samuel Adams, 18 beers
7. Bell’s Brewery, 17 beers
T8. Founders Brewing Co., 15 beers
T8. Great Divide Brewing Co., 15 beers
T8. Southern Tier Brewing Co., 15 beers
T11. Brooklyn Brewery, 14 beers
T11. Odell Brewing Co., 14 beers
T11. Rogue Ales, 14 beers
T14. New Belgium Brewing Co., 13 beers
T14. Russian River Brewing Co., 13 beers
T14. Stone Brewing Co., 13 beers
T17. Deschutes Brewery, 12 beers
T17. Three Floyds Brewing Co., 12 beers
T19. Boulevard Brewing Co., 11 beers
T19. Dark Horse Brewing Co., 11 beers
T19. New Glarus Brewing Co., 11 beers
T22. Alpine Beer Co., 10 beers
T22. AleSmith Brewing Co., 10 beers
T22. Great Lakes Brewing Co., 10 beers
T25. Cigar City Brewing Co., 9 beers
T25. Firestone Walker Brewing Co., 9 beers
T25. Flying Dog Brewing Co., 9 beers
T25. Harpoon Brewery, 9 beers
T25. The Lost Abbey, 9 beers
T25. Shorts Brewing Co., 9 beers
T25. Ska Brewing Co., 9 beers
T25. Sprecher Brewing Co., 9 beers
T25. Summit Brewing Co., 9 beers
T25. The Bruery, 9 beers

Top Imports

With a lot of ties, a few imports also received votes as readers’ favorite beers.

1. Rodenbach Grand Cru, Belgium
T2. Fullers ESB, England
T2. Guinness, Ireland
T2. Rochefort 10, Belgium
T5. Duvel, Belgium
T5. Saison Dupont, Belgium
T5. St. Bernardus Abt 12, Belgium
T8. Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock, Germany
T8. Cantillon Gueuze, Belgium
T8. Chimay Grande Reserve, Belgium
T8. Orval, Belgium
T8. Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown, England
T8. Unibroue La Fin du Monde, Canada

Spirit of Homebrew

And finally, the “Spirit of Homebrew” list is compiled by taking the number of votes a brewery received and dividing it by their annual production. The idea is to reward smaller breweries for having big reach. I was amazed to see that four of the five are from California. Congratulations to Pat, from Alpine, for being the biggest little guy.

1. Alpine Beer Co., Alpine, Calif
2. Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, Calif.
3. AleSmith Brewing Co., San Diego, Calif.
4. The Bruery, Placentia, Calif.
5. Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Dexter, Mich.

Top 10 Alcohol Drinking Cities

all-america-city
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

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.

GQ Top 50 Beer Trainwreck On CBS

GQ
While I realize that I’m Mr. Negative and always see the pint glass as half empty almost every time craft beer is featured on mainstream television, I just can’t jump for joy when there’s so little respect paid to beer by the media and so much misinformation. If I have to be the lone voice in the wilderness, so be it. The GQ Top 50 Beer List that the recently released — and which I initially applauded for the most part — has morphed into something else entirely for television. In print, it was merely 50 Beers To Try Right Now but on CBS it has transformed into 50 Beers to Try Before You Die, a very different list indeed. I liked the idea of just suggesting some great beer to try, but making it a “bucket list” gives it too much gravity, too much pressure for the choices to be just right. Plus there’s the whole copyright issue. I recently contributed to a book, 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die, and this seems like a pretty blatant ripoff by CBS. It’s not really copyright infringement, I realize, it just seems like a bad idea given how good the original framing of the list had been. But give the video with host Harry Smith and GQ’s style editor Adam Rapoport a look.


Watch CBS News Videos Online

Okay, it started out with the copyright infringing re-named list, which is just plain odd since the actual list they’re talking about is not beer to try before you die. Then, they can’t help but mention that it’s too early to drink and snigger about it like school children. What happened to being professional? Then there’s the horror of seeing an Allagash White with a lemon and orange wedge in the glass, which GQ’s Rapoport characterizes as a wheat or weiss beer, even though it’s a wit beer. With the second beer, Ommegang, the host remarks, surprised or incredulous. “Look at this, it even has a cork!” OMG, a cork. Alert the media. Oh, wait, he is the media. You’d think Harry Smith had never seen a beer with a cork before the way he overreacts. Then there’s his reaction to the glass. “Wow, look at the beer glass!” Rapoport: “It’s like a wine glass.” Harry Smith: “Almost.” Then he references tasting with Michael Jackson several years before and talks about how he tasted, calling it “like drinking wine, you do the nose….” Geez, I’m so tired of this analogy, as if wine holds the patent on how to taste liquids. You don’t think that absolutely every drink that’s tasted critically — be it wine, beer, whisky, cocktails, coffee, tea, whatever — is tasted by smelling it and tasting it in virtually the exact same way. Are their nuanced differences? Probably, but not enough to matter and the point is anytime someone tries to drink a beer by some other method than swilling it at a tailgate party, it’s compared to how wine is tasted because apparently the mainstream media seriously lacks any imagination.

Moving on to Dale’s Pale Ale, Rapoport tells us that hops cause bitterness … and sourness? But apart from beers made sour on purpose from the specific yeast used, sour or acedic flavors are almost always a defect, usually a bacterial infection. Can there be a sour undertone from certain varieties of hops? Maybe, but it’s usually in combination with other factors and it’s certainly not the second thing you think of when listing hops’ effects on beer. Next up is Rodenbach Grand Cru, in the “fancy bottle” and then Anchor Steam Beer. Rapoport at this point claims he loves Budweiser, but says there’s “a role beyond Budweiser,” also stating that Anchor Steam is a lager. And while California Commons do use a lager yeast, nothing else about brewing one is like a typical lager, or anywhere close to a Budweiser or any other adjunct macro lager. Most people, if designating them at all, would place them in a hybrid category. They continue to laugh and joke their way through Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout. Now the last time I ranted about one of these shows, somebody commented that he wanted them to have fun and not be too serious. Fun, yes, I’m all for that, but laughing at the beer they’re tasting and acting immature is just not that fun to me. Couple that with the misinformation, and I’m not entirely convinced these shows do more good than harm for craft beer. Yes, the exposure is good, but it always seems to be at a steep price.