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Men’s Journal Picks Their Favorite Beers Again

Last year, the magazine Men’s Journal published in their October issue a list they called the “25 Best Beers in America.” This year marks the fourth annual list but this time it’s a departure from their standard list. Instead they chose their five favorites in five broad style categories and a further list of their choice of a beer for a specific occasion. As usual, there are some good beers on the list but probably just as many or more great beers that didn’t grace the list. This year the list also includes beers imported from Europe.

Last year I wrote the following about the list, and it seems just as true today.

It’s great news, of course, for the beers on the list. Hopefully they’ll get more attention and even possibly more sales generated from the article. But it doesn’t mean the beers not on the list aren’t in many cases every bit as good as those who made the cut this year. For those of us who judge beer regularly there are so many factors that come into play that a list like this one can never be truly taken serious for a variety of reasons. But the novelty of it appeals to all of us, myself included, and I imagine I scanned the list with as much interest as the average reader. Anything that shows craft beer in a positive light can’t be all bad, and this annual list is certainly another good way to spread the message of how many good beers are being made all over the country. Now if we can just get more people to start drinking them, that would be really something.

Here’s this year’s introduction from Men’s Journal:


Provided it’s not the shakes that makes you reach for that cold one, there’s never been a better time to be a beer drinker. Delicious craft beer – roughly and imperfectly defined as high-quality brew made in smallish batches from the best possible ingredients, instead of corn syrup and generic grain – is everywhere. The average American now lives within 15 miles of a brewery making a fresh, local product. Imports from such beer-mad nations as Belgium and Norway previously unseen here are making their way into stores across the country. Even Anheuser-Busch wants in on the action; why else would the mega-brewer have released more than 85 experimental beers in the past two years? Which raises a fine question: What should you drink next? We canvassed brewers, importers, tavern-keepers, and chefs to find the best of the best.

However, how they really “did it” is explained later as follows. “We surveyed a Rolodex full of prominent beer industry players, asking them to name their favorite beers in several major categories, and tallied the results.” Well how scientific. Now I know these things are largely popularity contests already, but that strikes me as a pretty poor way to go about choosing what is presented as the “world’s best beer.” World’s “favorite” beers, possibly, but even that would be incorrect since they’re only the favorite beers of whoever was in their address book. Yes, I’m a curmudgeon to the end, but for these kinds of lists to be in any way meaningful there should be some kind of standards to get on the list in the first place. Otherwise, it’s just a beauty contest. But playing devil’s advocate, at least there are some very fine beers on the list and that’s a good thing for them, at least. There’s very few here that shouldn’t be enjoyed or sampled if they’re unfamiliar.

So with a few comments (in italics) that I couldn’t resist making, here is the Men’s Journal list for 2007:


The Best Pale Ales

  1. Firestone Walker Pale Ale
  2. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  3. Deschutes Mirror Pond
  4. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (I guess this means by pale ale they mean any beer that’s pale in color, not the style?)
  5. Ridgeway Bitter (Ditto.)

The Best Stouts & Porters

  1. Deschutes The Abyss
  2. Guinness (Which one?)
  3. Stone Smoked Porter
  4. Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout
  5. Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

The Best Belgians (Presumably they mean Belgian-style?)

  1. Saison Dupont
  2. Rochefort 10
  3. Ommegang Three Philosophers
  4. Russian River Damnation
  5. St. Bernardus Triple

The Best Wheat Beers

  1. Aventinus Doppel Weizen-Bock
  2. Ayinger Brau-Weiss
  3. Allagash White
  4. Penn Weizen
  5. Widmer Hefeweizen

The Best Lagers & Pilsners

  1. Lagunitas Pils
  2. Victory Prima Pils
  3. Stoudt’s Pils
  4. Trumer Pils
  5. New Belgium Blue Paddle



“Best Beer” rankings rarely answer the most important question: What’s the best beer for right now? Here’s what to sneak into the ballpark, tow behind your canoe, drink in the morning, give to the babysitter (kidding!), and more.

  • In Case of Natural Disaster: Ommegang Hennepin
  • For Ballpark Hecklers: Miller High Life (Maybe to use as projectile, certainly not for drinking.)
  • Global-Warming Summer Beer: Thiriez Extra
  • Airport Layover Beer: Samuel Adams Boston Lager (Is that because it’s the only one at every airport?)
  • Marijuana Substitute: Deschutes Hop Trip
  • Liquid Courage: Stone Double Bastard
  • Mass Market “Microbrew”: Blue Moon
  • For an All-Nighter: North Coast Red Seal Ale (I’d think a lower alcohol true Session beer would be a better choice.)
  • For a One-Nighter: Celebrator Doppelbock
  • Oktoberfest Beer: Great Lakes Oktoberfest (Nothing against this fine beer, but why wouldn’t a German example be here?)
  • For the Scotch Lover: Lost Abbey Angel’s Share
  • Best with a Shot of Whiskey in It: Harp Irish Lager
  • Best “Light” Beer: Mahr’s Leicht (As light beers go, maybe, but why even bother? It’s like choosing the best way to be executed.)
  • Best Before Noon: North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner
  • With a Good Cigar: Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
  • River Trip Beer: Dale’s Pale Ale
  • For the Goldman Sachs Broker: Samuel Adams Utopia
  • Hair-of-the-Dog Beer: Southampton Double White
  • Barbecue Beer: Aecht Schlenkerla Helles
  • To Impress a Beer Geek: Cantillon Lou Pepe
  • For Ice Fishing: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
  • For the Earth-Firster: Butte Creek Organic Pilsner
  • Only Decent Mexican Beer: Negra Modelo (There are plenty of awful Mexican beers — with Corona probably the worst — but they’re not all bad.)
  • Ski Town Beer: Avery 14er ESB
  • To Buy with Spare Change: Pabst Blue Ribbon (Why?)


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