And the Best Beer in America Is…

The results of a Zymurgy magazine reader survey are in, and generating controversy among hardcore beer drinkers.

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Simon Murrell

The American Homebrewers Association has released its 2012 list of “the Best Beers in America,” — though for true aficionados, there wasn’t much surprising in the rankings. For the fourth year in a row, Russian River’s Pliny the Elder made No. 1. Also as per usual, the list favored hoppy, lower-alcohol beers from large breweries with wide distribution. Zymurgy magazine, published by the ABA, asks its readers to vote annually on the country’s best beers. This year, more than 16,000 readers, most of whom are home brewers, voted.

(MORE: The 9 Beers You’re Drinking This Summer)

Some have taken issue with the results, including self-identified beer geek Jim Galligan, who once called Pliny the Elder “one of the most overrated beers in America.” Writing for MSNBC, he points out that “best beer” rankings assembled by the websites RateBeer.com and BeerAdvocate.com tend to favor more obscure brews with higher alcohol content.

L.A. Weekly finds a correlation between state beer sales and the ABA ranking, noting that beers with wider availability (and therefore high sales) are more likely to rack up votes from Zymurgy‘s readers. Case in point: California beers comprise 40 percent of the ABA’s “best beers,” and also boast high sales.

Nevertheless, Zymurgy‘s editor Jill Redding stands by the survey, arguing that her readers “have some of the most sophisticated and knowledgeable palates on the planet.”

ABA’s 2012 Top 10 Best Beers in America:
  1. Russian River Pliny the Elder
  2. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
  3. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
  4. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  5.  Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale
  6.  Bell’s Hopslam
  7. Sierra Nevada Celebration
  8. Stone Ruination IPA
  9. Sierra Nevada Torpedo
  10. North Coast Old Rasputin
MORE: Company Brews Beer Designed for Beer Pong
8 comments
bobbutts
bobbutts

3 out of the top 10 from Sierra Nevada?

This list is worthless.

jmuriel
jmuriel

The evolution of beer commenced thousands of years ago. I, for one, im glad that this evolution has morphed into all the palate pleasant and thirst quenching ...lost my thread, my wife started bugging me about this article...need a beer...thank God for beer 

jmuriel
jmuriel

The diversity of beer and its drinkers is an evolution that started thousands of years ago. I, for one, im happy that the evolution has sparked a wide array of  flavors and ...i lost my thread, my wife just started bugging me...thank God for beer is all i gotta say.. 

MikeGreggs
MikeGreggs

Sheesh... since when is ale considered beer? And since when is any of this rancid stuff considered the best let alone potable? I can't even hold my nose and drink Sierra Nevada. It tastes like what beer tastes like when you're vomitting it along with a hint of citrus.

safaricompanion
safaricompanion

By your definition, no one in the British Isles drink beer. I'm not about ridiculous IPAs, but there are a lot of palatable ales. 

Guinness, Bass, Newcastle, Blue Moon... all ales by definition, but they're consumed regularly by people other than beer snobs.

MikeGreggs
MikeGreggs

Well there is a fundamental difference between beer and ale nevertheless. Separate contests would have been better? Anyways, I can drink all the ones you mentioned without incident. Newcastle is really good to me in fact.

safaricompanion
safaricompanion

Ales and lagers are both varieties of beer. The primary difference involves the flocculation character of the yeast and the temperature of fermentation, though others extend it to the malt variety and the timing in which hops are introduced. 

To say ale is not beer is to dismiss the entire of history of beer since lagers were not produced until the 16th century.

Gertrude J. Phillips
Gertrude J. Phillips

im happy that the evolution has sparked a wide array of  flavors...MayorMoney.blogspot.com