Every year, hundreds of craft beer contests and surveys are held around the world. From homebrewing to international, awards are given out at every level, recognizing the best beers in a given place and time.
One of the biggest (and most heavily-weighted) of these beer surveys is put out by Zymurgy magazine, the publication produced by the American Homebrewers Association. Now in its sixteenth year, the annual study asks the 46,000-members in the association to choose their five favorite commercially-available beers. For the second year in a row, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale earned the top spot.
The previous favorite, Russian River Brewings’s Pliny the Elder (which was the winner from 2009 to 2016), came in at No. 2. There are other easily-recognizable names in the top 10, including The Alchemist’s Heady Topper (third) and Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale (tied for fifth). Bell’s also took fourth for Hopslam. Founders Brewing snagged two fifth-place finishes for Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS) and Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS), a ninth-place finish for Breakfast Stout, and 10th place for All Day IPA, tying with WeldWerks‘ Juicy Bits.
“As brewers, the members of American Homebrewers Association can discern the subtle differences between a good beer and an outstanding beer.,” said Gary Glass, director of the American Homebrewers Association. “Zymurgy’s Best Beers in America survey showcases which commercial beers are truly the best of the best out there, and all the breweries who made the list should be proud.”
Best Beers in America
1. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale*
2. Russian River Pliny the Elder*
3. The Alchemist Heady Topper*
4. Bell’s Hopslam*
T5. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale*
T5. Founders CBS (Canadian Breakfast Stout)
T5. Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout)
8. Three Floyds Zombie Dust*
9. Founders Breakfast Stout
T10. WeldWerks Juicy Bits*
T10. Founders All Day IPA
Best Breweries in America
1. Bell’s Brewery, Inc. (Galesburg, Michigan)*
2. Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
3. Russian River Brewing Co. (Santa Rosa, California)*
4. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, California, and Mills River, North Carolina)*
5. Firestone Walker Brewing Company (Paso Robles, California)*
T6. Deschutes Brewery (Bend, Oregon)*
T6. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Milton, Delaware)*
8. Stone Brewing (Escondido, California)*
9. The Alchemist (Stowe, Vermont)*
10. Three Floyds Brewing Company (Munster, Indiana)*
Top-Ranked Beer Portfolios
On the portfolio end of things, anyone who has sipped a craft beer in the last decade should not be surprised by this list.
1. Stone Brewing (33 beers)*
2. Firestone Walker Brewing Co. (29 beers)*
T3. New Belgium Brewing (24 beers)*
T3. Founders Brewing Co. (24 beers)
5. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (23 beers)*
T6. Avery Brewing Co. (22 beers)
T6. Hill Farmstead Brewery (22 beers)*
T7. Boulevard Brewing Co. (20 beers)*
T7. Trillium Brewing Co. (20 beers)*
T9. Bell’s Brewery (19 beers)*
T9. Deschutes Brewery (19 beers)*
T9. Odell Brewing (19 beers)*
T9. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (19 beers)*
T9. The Bruery (19 beers)*
T9. Three Floyds Brewing (19 beers)
For more information, the complete list can be found at the American Homebrewers Association website.
T indicates tie; *indicates small and independent craft brewers.