The 50 Best Beers and the 25 Best Brewers –

In my recent copy of Zymurgy’ there was an article touting the 50 best beers in America as voted by members of the American Homebrewer’s Association. My first thought when I saw the tag line on the cover was……..”How many have I sampled?”….So, how did I do? Lets go down in rank order. I have enjoyed at least one of the following beers.

  • 1. Pliny the Elder by Russian River….hard to find but oh so worth the effort
  • 3. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
  • 7. Arrogant Bastard Ale
  • 8. Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA
  • T9. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
  • T9. Stone Ruination
  • T12. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra
  • 15. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  • T17. Firestone Walker Double Jack
  • 20. Firestone Walker Wookey Jack
  • T21. Bear Republic Racer 5
  • T27. Deschutes Black Butte Porter
  • T27. Green Flash West Coast IPA
  • 30. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
  • 36. Lagunitas IPA
  • 37. Stone IPA
  • 38. Odell IPA
  • T42. Russian River Blind Pig IPA
  • 45. Firestone Walker Parabola
  • T48. Green Flash Palate Wrecker
  • T48. Lagunitas Brown Shugga’

I will add my 2 cents – The Firestone Walker Parabola is the most amazing beer I have ever sampled, a barrel aged Imperial Stout…it has very limited distribution and limited production. I am certain that it would have garnered far more votes if sampled by more folks…. My wife surprised me last week with a bottle of the 2011 Parabola found in a specialty beer and wine shop in Bakersfield California – Imbibe is the store name. It will be a special occasion in the future when I crack the top! I grabbed the last available bottle of the 2011 and took a 2013 to mature in my Houston beer cellar ( converted freezer currently set ay 54 degrees F)

I have under my belt – literally and figuratively, 21 of the top 50 beers voted on by members of the American Homebrewer’s Association and published in the July/August 2013 issue of Zymurgy.

They also asked members to rank the Commercial Craft Breweries across the US…..I am either a lush or ???? I have sampled the offerings of many of these breweries. By member’s vote listed below are those in my experience base;

  • 1. Stone Brewing Company
  • 2. Russian River Brewing Company
  • 3. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
  • 4. Dogfish Head Brewery
  • 6. Firestone Walker Brewing Company
  • 8. Lagunitas Brewing Company
  • 9. New Belgium Brewing Company
  • 10. Deschutes Brewery
  • 11 Odell Brewing Company
  • 15. Green Flash Brewing Company
  • 16. The Boston Beer Company
  • 17. Boulevard Brewing Company
  • 18. Goose Island Beer Company

I have 13 of the top 25….I need to do some beer swapping to complete my list! .This should be a doable challenge….

Three Superb Beers

Three Superb Beers

This trip has included several brewery visits – Island Brewing in Carpenteria, 3 times and another tonight with my granddaughter – yes she is of legal age to drink in California, the Santa Barbara Brewery, several visits to Lengthwise Brewery in Bakersfield and I hope to sample something at Anacapa Brewery in Ventura around lunch time. I was close to both San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles but there are only so many days available on this trip and heard the Sirens’ call from the breweries in these two towns. (dangerous and beautiful creatures these Sirens be)

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

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Dick’s Danger Ale Postponed Due to Weather

Belgian Wit – Nice Color – and Flavor

I had to delay the brewing planned for yesterday. It was a mixed blessing. The wind was gusting pretty strong which can bring all kinds of airborne contaminants – well beyond my cat dander nemesis. The good was the temperature drop which will make it easier to maintain better fermenting temperatures in the house.

After some errands, taking the MRI disc to the ear doctor, getting some materials to go vertical with my fall strawberry planting and picking up my share of CSA provided vegetables, I got down to beer related activities.(was that a run on sentence Mr. Kunert?). I picked up a copy of “Beer” magazine, the September/October issue and enjoyed the slick layout aand great articles.

This issue had two very important lists. One was the magazine’s top 50 beers. Over a three-year period of time they sampled and rated over 300 beers….how do I apply for a job??? It is a very interesting list and a bit sad… I realized that I have only sampled 4 of the 50! Three of my tastings scored 95’s and one a 94.  There a large number of beers scoring 96 and above that I may have to hunt down. If my children of legal drinking age are reading, I will leave the magazine out and my wish list tabbed. Thank you.

The other list in this issue was one that I can say I am more familiar with. It lists the top craft breweries by volume – “by volume”, that phrase resonates with me. So, I sat down, sampled a cold draft Belgian Wit(see photo), handcrafted by a good-looking gray-headed guy in Kingwood, Texas, and began reminiscing on my experience with these breweries and their offerings. I won’t list all 50 but I will list by rank those that merit my comments……yes I have sample from all that  I will mention.

1. Boston Beer Company – most beer drinkers will recognize the Samuel Adams brand and all of its various seasonal offerings. A craft beer company with roots going back to brewer and founder Jim Koch’s home brewing days. Also listed on the stock exchange…about $ 85 per share. I have tried and like many of their beers.

2. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico, California. My youngest son, not of legal drinking age, has Chico State on his list of possible choices. Their Pale Ale is very nice, not real hoppy at all, about a 37 on the IBU scale, but very drinkable. I like the Stout as well as the seasonal beers. Another plus….I can reuse the bottles in my brewing/bottling activities.

3. New Belgium, Fort Collins, CO. Fat Tire and 1554 are my favorites. The Ranger IPA has a great aroma and taste…. if you like hoppier beers. I also like my New Belgium bike jersey…way cool.

4. Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, TX. Oh man… Shiner Bock!!!!! They have a nice suite of beers  – No IPA though, but overall they make Texas proud…. I may not have been born a Texan, but I got here as quick as I could.

9. Harpoon Brewing, Boston, MA. The Harpoon IPA is good as well as the UFO Hefeweizen.

11. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE. I have been developing a real fondness for IPA’s ( India Pale Ales were  heavily  hopped to help the English ales survive the trip to India, hence the the name. It became a favorite of expats returning home and the style became a fixture). The 60 Minute and 90 Minute IPA’s are very nice.

12. Alaskan Brewing and Bottling Co., Juneau, AK. Alaskan Amber, MMMMMMMMM good, I traded 4 bottles of my Imperial Stout for a 6 pack… it is that good. After looking at their offerings I may have to explore some more….I wonder if my Continental Airlines pilot buddy can score a variety pack in exchange for some more home-brew???

14. Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, CA. Love that Gargoyle logo…. Love the Stone Pale Ale, Stone India Pale Ale and obviously the Arrogant Bastard Pale Ale. They have a nice looking line-up of beers that beg for sampling… so few hours in the day!

15. Abita Brewing Co., Abita LA., Who dat! …. Tucked off of Interstate 10, what a great little accidental stop. My wife and I were driving home from Auburn Alabama after watching our son swim in the SEC meet and we were feeling hungry. Asked the GPS to finds us some food and it as if it knew that we were both beer drinkers. Kathy fell in love, first with me and then the Abita Purple Haze. I haven’t found one that I didn’t like….Turbo Dog is my first choice. Try it, you’ll like it.

16. Brooklyn Brewery, where else but Brooklyn, NY. I sampled the Brown Ale, Pale Ale and Lager at the Humble Brew Fest …. see earlier post. Not bad at all.

23. Anchor Brewing, San Francisco, CA. My introduction to beers beyond yellow fizzy water happened at Pizzaville on Oak St., Bakersfield, CA. Bob Green, the owner, stocked the Anchor Steam beer. I was intrigued with the flavor. It really grew on me. It was also the only place in town to get Olympia on draught! Bob loved Oly as did an older couple that came in every Friday evening, before the fights in the parking lot started, ordered a medium Beef & Onion pizza to go along with a pitcher of Oly. I just found a clone recipe for the long extinct Oly…..will try it once I am set up to lager beers. Where do Artesains hide? Answer in a future post.

26. Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA. I want to retire to Paso and get a job at Firestone…..they can pay me in beer. I am a huge fan of the Double Barrel Pale Ale, the Double Jack will sneak up on you and knock your whatever into the dirt! They are very fond of all things Pale Ale-ish! Worth a trip to visit and sample.

28. Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD. I love the labels…..no I don’t peel them off and eat them – but he beers are outstanding. Give them a try… they may make you chase cars…. be careful and don’t chase parked cars….. is that how Pekingese dogs got that funny look????

33. Odell Brewing Co. – I sat in the airport in Colorado Springs waiting for a flight and drank a few Levity Amber Ales…. very nice. I want to try a few of the others in their line-up

48. St. Arnold Brewing Co., Houston, TX. Ah, back home, we are blessed to have an outstanding local brewery in the top 50 by volume. They make some great beers and I understand have a great tour…. need to round-up a DD and give it a taste test. I like the Elissa IPA really well but the others in the stable are very nice,  the Amber, the Lawnmower and the Weedwacker are in my fridge quite often.

TTFN

Bishop