RateBeer.com’s World’s Top 100 Beers

RateBeer.com has ranked the world’s top 100 beers, based on users’ reviews and weighted by performance within and outside of style. Because the list is alphabetical, we don’t know which beer was number-one overall.

American beers dominated the Top 100. California put more beers on the list—22—than any other state. It was followed by Vermont, with 11, and Michigan, with eight. Five there states—Florida, Indiana, Iowa, New York, and Wisconsin—placed four or more beers on the Top 100, which is further evidence that craft beer has become a nationwide phenomenon.

The Friday Mash (Railroad Tycoon Edition)

Two hundred years ago today, the state of New Jersey awarded the first-ever railroad franchise to Colonel John Stevens III, the inventor who constructed America’s first steam locomotive.

And the bar car is open!

Fore! We begin at the 16th hole of the Phoenix Open, where rowdy spectators celebrated Francesco Molinari’s hole-in-one by showering him with beer and other flying objects.

A Minnesota brewery found out that it can’t sell “Rated R” beer. Not because of violence or sex, but because the Motion Picture Association of America trademarked the phrase. Molson’s XXX is, presumably, still in the clear.

MillerCoors has installed 10,000 solar panels at its Irwindale, California, brewery. The new system will generate enough electricity to brew seven million cases of beer each year.

Blank Slate Brewing Company joined forces with Oskar Blues Brewery to brew “Cincy 3-Way Porter.” The beer contains cumin, coriander, allspice and cinnamon, which are found in Cincinnati-style chili.

Researchers in China have discovered that xanthohumol, a substance found in hops, contains anti-oxidants that may delay or even prevent the onset of dementia and other forms of cognitive decline.

Ontario’s government plans some changes to its relationship with The Beer Store, the province’s quasi-monopoly. However, those changes won’t bring beer into convenience stores.

Finally, Yeti Coolers has invented a super-luxury koozie. The Colster, which retails for $30, wraps a beer in a stainless steel, double-walled, vacuum-insulated enclosure; and its “No Sweat” design prevents condensation from forming.

Dropping the Penalty Flag on Anheuser-Busch

Anheuser-Busch, whose products have steadily lost market share in recent years, aired a Super Bowl ad titled “Brewed the Hard Way, which made fun of craft beer and the people who enjoy it. The craft beer community wasted no time firing back.

One of the best critiques came from Jim Vorel, Paste magazine’s news editor. He led off by telling his readers that he’d been to the Budweiser Research Pilot Brewery and met the people who work there.

Vorel then opened fire on “Brewed the Hard Way”. A few of his comments:

  • “So, what if right after we say it’s not to be fussed over, we IMMEDIATELY trumpet the fact that it’s beechwood aged, something that roughly 1% of our target demographic understands?”
  • “Please, if at all possible, try not to taste our beer. If you’re able to disable your gag reflex and just pour it straight down your gullet and into your stomach in one fell swoop while bypassing the taste buds altogether, that would be ideal.”
  • “Anheuser is literally mocking the consumers of the COMPANIES THEY NOW OWN. Honestly, how devastating is that for the Elysian brewing team? Your owners think your customers are pretentious hipsters. These are the people who own your business.”

Finally, Vorel notes that the “pumpkin peach beer” A-B made fun of in the ad, and which a company executive called “a fabricated, ludicrous flavor combination,” is being brewed by a company that A-B is in the process of buying. About that he says, “We’re at Irony Defcon 1, people.”

Guinness Blonde: Made in America

Guinness Blonde has been on the shelves for several months, and there’s an interesting story behind its creation. To begin with, it isn’t brewed in Dublin but in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The brewmaster, Joe Gruss, is American; the hops are Mosaic, Mt. Hood, and Willamette; and the crystal malt is domestically sourced as well.

The yeast, however, is from Dublin, and that leads to another story. The first attempt–fermented at 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit), the highest temperature lager yeast is typically subjected to—resulted in bad-tasting beer. The brewing staff did something counter-intuitive: they raised the fermentation temperature another three degrees C. (5.4 degrees F.). Even though the higher temperature was above lager yeast’s comfort zone, somehow it worked.

The Friday Mash (”Off With His Head!” Edition)

On this day in 1649, King Charles I of England was beheaded for high treason. His execution ushered in the Interregnum, during which Oliver Cromwell and later his son, Richard, ruled the country.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Colorado, where Oskar Blues has given its session ale a marijuana-themed name: Pinner, which is slang for a joint with low THC content. Above the Pinner logo is the question: “Can I be blunt?”

Carlsberg Group is developing the world’s first fully biodegradable bottle for its beverages. The “Green Fiber Bottle” will be made from wood fiber or paper pulp, and will be lighter than a glass bottle.

Yahoo Food profiles Chris Loring, whose Massachusetts-based Notch Brewing specializes in session beers. Loring reminds us that these beers have existed in America for 100 years.

An unidentified man in Brooklyn has trained his girlfriend’s pet rabbit, Wallace, to bring him a beer. The animal puts its paws on the beer cart, pushing it forward.

A trip to a The Alchemist brewery not only netted MSNBC TV personality Rachel Maddow some Heady Topper IPA, but also revealed how New England’s economy is booming.

Baseball Hall of Famer Wade Boggs’s most impressive statistic might not be his 3,010 career hits. Legend has it that Boggs put away 64 beers while on a cross-country trip during his playing days.

Finally, don’t scoff at the idea of beer brewed with sewer water. Washington County, Oregon’s Clean Water Services claims that its purification system makes sewer water even cleaner than tap water. One homebrewer uses the water, and calls his beer “sewage brewage.”

Fallout From A-B’s Acquisition of Elysian

Acquisitions are a routine part of business, but the sale of Seattle’s Elysian Brewing Company to Anheuser-Busch InBev has touched a nerve in the local craft-brewing community.

The main concern is A-B’s economic clout. It can sell kegs to retailers at a lower price than smaller breweries, and command more shelf space in supermarkets, crowding smaller concerns out of the market.

What made the deal even more puzzling is that Elysian’s owner, Dick Cantwell, is held in high regard by Washington State’ s brewers. Some think that Cantwell betrayed his colleagues. However, Matt Lincecum, the founder of Fremont Brewing Company, said, “anyone who says Dick sold us out needs to think twice.”

Kendall Jones, a Seattle beer blogger, urged beer lovers not to panic. “There are 3,400 breweries in the country,” he said. “That’s still 3,396 that Anheuser-Busch does not own.”

In Florida, A Fight Over Tasting Rooms

In recent years, dozens of small breweries have opened in Florida. However, a lawsuit filed earlier this month by the Florida Retail Federation could put them in jeopardy.

The suit alleges that the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which issues liquor licenses, overstepped its legal authority in allowing breweries to open tasting rooms. Many breweries depend on tasting-room traffic to stay viable.

Currently, there are two exceptions to the three-tier licensing scheme under which a brewery can sell directly to customers. One exception applies to breweries that offered tourist amenities. (The exception was originally create for the Busch Gardens theme park.) The other applies to brewpubs. According to the Retail Federation, some breweries fall under neither exemption but operate tasting rooms anyway.

The Friday Mash (Liechtenstein Edition)

On this day in 1719, the Principality of Liechtenstein was created within the Holy Roman Empire. A couple of fun facts about this tiny country: it is the world’s leading producer of false teeth; and its capital, Vaduz, is one of only two in the world that ends with the letter “z”.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Pennsylvania, whose incoming governor turned down an offer of free Yuengling for his inauguration. A state senator says the governor snubbed the brewery because of its CEO’s political views.

MillerCoors plans to offer a gluten-free beer. The beer, Coors Peak Copper Lager, will be brewed with brown rice and protein from peas instead of barley.

A New Hampshire lawmaker wants to repeal a Liquor Commission rule banning pictures of children from beer labels. Founders Breakfast Stout’s label features a baby eating cereal.

The Pair O’ Dice Brewing Company in Clearwater, Florida, wanted a really distinctive tap for its Fowler’s Bluff IPA, so it hired Tangible Labs, a 3-D printing company, to fashion one.

A new South Carolina law that allows breweries to sell pints has given the state’s economy a $13.7 million boost. Twelve breweries have opened in the state since the law took effect.

Grease from that slice of pizza you just ate can kill the foam on your beer. It lowers the surface tension on the foam, which tears apart the structure of the bubbles and releases their gases.

Finally, an outcry from angry beer fans forced Lagunitas Brewing Company to drop its trademark suit against Stone Brewing Company. Lagunitas claimed that Stone’s logo for Hop Hunter IPA was too similar to the Lagunitas IPA logo.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Bangkok’s brewery count in 2014: 20.
  • Its brewery count in 2013: 4.
  • West Virginia’s craft brewery count: 7.
  • Craft brewing’s impact on West Virginia’s economy: $118 million (46th in the nation).
  • Arrests at Oktoberfest 2014: 720 (39 fewer than at Oktoberfest 2013).
  • Lost objects at Oktoberfest 2014: 3,346 (including 2 wedding rings, a mobile cat carrier, and a German Federal Cross of Merit 2nd-class medal).
  • Founders Brewing Company’s production in 2014: 190,000 barrels.
  • Founders’ projected capacity after expansion is completed: 900,000 barrels.
  • Alcoholic content of All Day IPA, Founders’ largest-selling beer: 4.7 percent by volume.
  • Lagunitas Brewing Company’s production in 2014: almost 600,000 barrels.
  • Increase in Lagunitas’ production over the year before: 60 percent (it opened a second brewery in Chicago).
  • Dos Equis’ sales in 2013: 1.57 million barrels.
  • Increase in Dos Equis’ sales between 2008 and 2013: 116.6 percent (number-one in the nation in sales growth).
  • Most expensive beer in the National Basketball Association: 60 cents an ounce (Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland).
  • Cheapest beer in the NBA: 33 cents an ounce (Chesapeake Arena, Oklahoma City, and Phillips Arena, Atlanta).
  • The Fight to Legalize Brewpubs

    Charlie Papazian, who writes about beer on Examiner.com, resurrected a 1982 article from Zymurgy magazine about early efforts to legalize brewpubs. It was written by Tom Burns, then at the Boulder Brewing Company. Burns moved to Michigan, where he fought to change that state’s restrictive laws. Unfortunately, Burns passed away before Michigan became the “The Great Beer State” with more than 150 microbreweries and brewpubs.

    At the heart of Burns’ article is America’s three-tier distribution system. He conceded that legislators had reasons to ban “tied houses”—they didn’t want breweries to monopolize the retail market—but argued that the laws were so inflexible they made impossible for a small brewery to sell its beer at retail.

    Burns, who was an attorney, urged the craft-brewing community to lobby state legislators. He argued for a narrow exception to the three-tier system—allowing breweries to sell their product, on premises, at retail–and offered some useful talking points. Brewpubs are local businesses, which hire local people. They counter the trend toward industry concentration. They help preserve traditional beer styles, and led to the creation of new ones. And they encourage the consumption of beer, a beverage of moderation.

    The strategy worked. A generation later, brewpubs are legal in all 50 states.

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