2012 Best Beers in America

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For the past 10 years, we’ve asked Zymurgy readers to share a list of their 20 favorite beers that are commercially available in the United States. A record number of votes were cast this year: 16,445 for a dizzying array of brands available to beer lovers across the country.

Top-Ranked Beers

For 2012, we have a four-peat! Russian River’s Pliny the Elder, a double IPA, claimed the top spot for the fourth straight year. Finishing second for the third straight year was Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, an IPA. (T indicates tie)

 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
 11. Firestone Walker Union Jack
 12. Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye
 13. Bear Republic Racer 5
 14. Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale
 15. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
 16. Firestone Walker Double Jack
 T17. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
 T17. Sierra Nevada Bigfoot
 19. Stone IPA
 20. New Belgium Fat Tire
 21. Deschutes Black Butte Porter
 22. Avery Maharaja
 23. Founders Breakfast Stout
 24. Left Hand Milk Stout
 T25. Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA
 T25. New Belgium Ranger
 T25. Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale
 28. Deschutes The Abyss
 29. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
 30. Surly Furious
 T31. Lagunitas Little Sumpin Sumpin
 T31. Rogue Dead Guy
 T31. Samuel Adams Boston Lager
34. Troegs Nugget Nectar
 T35. Lagunitas IPA
 T35. New Belgium La Folie
 T37. Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron
 T37. Founders KBS

 T37. Russian River Blind Pig IPA

40. Green Flash West Coast IPA

 41. Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale
 42. Victory Prima Pils
43. Great Divide Yeti
 T44. Alaskan Smoked Porter
 T44. Anchor Steam
 T44. Lagunitas Hop Stoopid
 T44. Samuel Adams Noble Pils
 T48. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter
 T48. Oskar Blues Ten Fidy
 T48. Russian River Pliny the Younger

Brewery Rankings

Brewery rankings are based on total votes received by each brewery’s beers. This year’s top brewery is Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Chico, Calif.  Sierra Nevada placed three beers in the top 10, and five in the top 20, including its new Ruthless Rye. Perennial favorite Dogfish Head Craft Brewery finished second.

1. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, Calif.
2. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, Del.
3. Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, Calif.
4. Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, Calif.
5. Bell’s Brewery, Kalamazoo, Mich.
6. New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, Colo.
7. Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, Calif.
8. Deschutes Brewery, Bend, Ore.
9. Lagunitas Brewing Co., Petaluma, Calif.
10. Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.
11. Boston Beer Co. (Samuel Adams), Boston, Mass.
12. Avery Brewing Co., Boulder, Colo.
13. Oskar Blues Brewing Co., Longmont, Colo.
14. Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins, Colo.
15. Three Floyds Brewing Co., Munster, Ind.
T16. Great Divide Brewing Co., Denver, Colo.
T16. Rogue Ales, Newport, Ore.
18. New Glarus Brewing Co., New Glarus, Wis.
19. Victory Brewing Co., Downington, Pa.
20. Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, Ill.
21. Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, Colo.
22. Surly Brewing Co., Minneapolis, Minn.
23. North Coast Brewing Co., Fort Bragg, Calif.
24. Bear Republic Brewing Co., Healdsburg, Calif.
25. Green Flash Brewing Co., San Diego, Calif.

Best Portfolio

We also tabulate which breweries had the most brands represented in the results. The brewers at Boston Beer have been busy lately, with a whopping 41 of their beers receiving votes in the poll.

1. Boston Beer Co. (Samuel Adams) (41 beers)
2. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (34 beers)
3. New Glarus Brewing Co. (28 beers)
T4. Rogue Ales (27 beers)
T4. The Bruery (27 beers)
T6. Bell’s Brewery (26 beers)
T6. New Belgium Brewing Co. (26 beers)
T8. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (25 beers)
T8. Three Floyds Brewing Co. (25 beers)
T11. Goose Island Beer Co. (23 beers)
T11. Great Divide Brewing Co. (23 beers)
T13. Brooklyn Brewery (22 beers)
T13. Deschutes Brewery (22 beers)
T13. Lagunitas Brewing Co. (22 beers)
T16. Cigar City Brewing Co. (21 beers)
T16. Victory Brewing Co. (21 beers)
T18. Southern Tier Brewing Co. (20 beers)
T18. Stone Brewing Co. (20 beers)
20. Flying Dog Brewing Co. (19 beers)
T21. Boulevard Brewing Co. (18 beers)
T21. Founders Brewing Co. (18 beers)
T21. Odell Brewing Co. (18 beers)
T24. Firestone Walker Brewing Co. (16 beers)
T24. Russian River Brewing Co. (16 beers)

Top Imports

As in years past, there was a decidedly all-American bent to this year’s voting. Of the top 50 beers in the poll, none were produced by a foreign brewery. Guinness reclaimed the number one spot among imports.

1. Guinness Draught (Ireland)
2. Unibroue La Fin du Monde (Canada)
T3. Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock (Germany)
T3. Saison Dupont (Belgium)
T5. Orval (Belgium)
T5. Rodenbach Grand Cru (Belgium)
T7. Newcastle Brown (England)
T7. St. Bernardus Abt 12 (Belgium)
T9. Duvel (Belgium)
T9. Pilsner Urquell (Czech Republic)
T9. Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout (England)

Spirit of Homebrew

alpine logo

Once again, we raise a glass to those breweries that, though small in production, score high with beer lovers. We determine the Spirit of Homebrew Award by taking a brewery’s total number of votes and dividing it by the brewery’s annual production in number of barrels.

1. Alpine Beer Co., Alpine, Calif.
2. Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, Calif.
3. The Bruery, Placentia, Calif.
4. AleSmith Brewing Co., San Diego, Calif.
5. Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Dexter, Mich.

Look for information on participating in the 2013 poll in an upcoming issue of Zymurgy magazine as well as on HomebrewersAssociation.org. Cheers!

Photos © 2012 Premshree Pillai, star5112, Sean Buchanan, Kelly Bailey, Mitch_J and Brend Rostad through a Creative Commons license.