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.
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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:
- Russian River Pliny the Elder
- Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
- Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
- Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale
- Bell’s Hopslam
- Sierra Nevada Celebration
- Stone Ruination IPA
- Sierra Nevada Torpedo
- North Coast Old Rasputin