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Best beer list?

CATEGORIES: Beer Editor  

It’s always interesting to see “best of” lists, especially when the results come from reader votes. The American Homebrewers Association’s trade journal Zymurgy just released its annual “Best Beers in America” results, and I’m a bit surprised by the outcome. Mainly, the lack of variety on the list. Of course, when you poll people throughout the country, the results are most likely going to include brands that are available, well, all across the country. So perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. But seven of the top 15 beers come from just two breweries. Roughly 10 of the top 15 are either a pale ale or IPA. Russian River Pliny the Elder came in first for the third year straight. Don’t get me wrong, these are all fantastic beers. But, with all the amazing recipes coming out of breweries large and small these days, I can’t help but think this list reads like it’s three years old. Here are the top 15. Swing by the American Homebrewers site for the complete 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

What would you change about this list?


Chris Staten is DRAFT’s beer editor. Follow him on Twitter at @DRAFTbeereditor and email him at chris.staten@draftmag.com.


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  • Justin says:

    Does over-hopping a beer really make it that great? These are quality beers but seriously…Two Hearted? Is a bunch of hops all it takes to make most “craft beer lovers” top beers list. Also, where the hell is Rogue?

  • Mike says:

    I had two good beers this past week. Yards Brawler and Purple Haze out of Philly. Yards has a dark appearance with a light flavor and the Haze has a smooth, flavorable taste.

  • Beernerd says:

    Atleast they got #13 right. Otherwise I would start over. Looks like a hophead made this list.

  • Michael says:

    I’d change T14 Oskar Blues from the Pale ale to either the Gordon or the GUMBA.

  • Yet Another Michael says:

    The list was the result of a poll, not just one individual. Hoppy beers are really popular amongst craft beer drinkers, so it’s not all that surprising that so many make up the top 15.

  • John says:

    This is definitely a hophead list. How about Left Hand’s Milk Stout? Or Lazy Magnolia’s Pecan Brown Ale? To be honest, the American craft beermarket is so saturated with over-hopped beers that it’s becoming a cliche.

  • Jeff says:

    Drop Goose Island, they are dead to me now that Bud bought them.

  • sc says:

    I love twits like Jeff who think if the glass the beer is served in changes, it becomes a different beer. Goose belongs on this list!

  • Stephen says:

    Yards is terrific. Their IPA and Extra Special Ale are as good or better than most of the beers on this list. Sadly it isn’t available nationwide.

  • Brandon says:

    Left Hand Sawtooth and Milk Stout, North Coast Old Rasputin Stout, New Belgium 2 Below, Odell 5 Barrel Pale Ale

    These would probably be my favorite not on the list

  • Jerry says:

    Rogue Double Dead Guy, Bell’s Expedition Stout, Old Rasputin, Peche Mortel, Rogue XS Bitter Ale, Rochefort 10.

  • Andy says:

    Good to see some midwest beers toward the top of the list. Huge fan of KBS!


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