Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The 10 best beers in the country

Posted By on Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 5:13 PM

If you think the American Homebrewers Association probably knows a little bit about beer, then you might be interested in the 2014 Best Commercial Beers in America list. Published in the trade association's Zymurgy magazine, the collection includes the usual, but delicious, suspects.

It's always hard with votes like these to tell who really deserves it and who just has great name recognition. And like last year's list, most of these are IPAs and none are from Colorado. But either way, there are no slackers here either. (The inclusion of Goose Island Beer Company may be contentious for some beer lovers, considering its sale to Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., but it's a damn good beer all the same, and still brewed in Chicago.)

“As brewers, AHA members know when they experience excellence in a craft beer. It is a very high honor for a brewery to be recognized by this group as having the best beer in America,” says Gary Glass, director of the AHA, in the release. “The consistency in the poll results indicates that the discerning palettes of these homebrewers recognize quality and are not easily influenced by the latest fads.”

As a side note, New Belgium Brewing Co. was award the Best Portfolio of Beers, for having some 60 beers which received votes. Anyway, without further ado:

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1. Russian River Brewing Co.'s Pliny the Elder
Brewed in: Santa Rosa, Calif.
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8 percent
BeerAdvocate.com rating: 100
Brewery distributes in Colorado: Yes
Description: "Pliny the Elder is brewed with Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ, and Simcoe hops. It is well-balanced with malt, hops, and alcohol, slightly bitter with a fresh hop aroma of floral, citrus, and pine."

2. Bell's Brewery's Two Hearted Ale
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Brewed in: Galesburg, Mich.
Style: American IPA
ABV: 7 percent
BeerAdvocate.com rating: 95
Brewery distributes in Colorado: No
Description: "Bell's Two Hearted Ale is defined by its intense hop aroma and malt balance. Hopped exclusively with the Centennial hop varietal from the Pacific Northwest, massive additions in the kettle and again in the fermenter lend their characteristic grapefruit and pine resin aromas."
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3. Ballast Point Brewing Co.'s Sculpin IPA
Brewed in: San Diego, Calif.
Style: American IPA
ABV: 7 percent
BeerAdvocate.com rating: 98
Brewery distributes in Colorado: No
Description: "Our Sculpin IPA is a great example of what got us into brewing in the first place. ... The inspired use of hops creates hints of apricot, peach, mango and lemon flavors, but still packs a bit of a sting, just like a Sculpin fish."
4. Bell's Brewery's Hopslam Ale 
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Brewed in: Galesburg, Mich.
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 10 percent
BeerAdvocate.com rating: 100
Brewery distributes in Colorado: No
Description: "Starting with six different hop varietals added to the brew kettle & culminating with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops, Bell's Hopslam Ale possesses the most complex hopping schedule in the Bell's repertoire."
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5. The Alchemist's Heady Topper
Brewed in: Waterbury, Vt.
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8 percent
BeerAdvocate.com rating: 100
Brewery distributes in Colorado: No
Description: "This Double IPA is not intended to be the strongest or most bitter DIPA. It is brewed to give you wave after wave of hop flavor without any astringent bitterness."

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6. Lagunitas Brewing Co.'s Lagunitas Sucks
Brewed in: Petaluma, Calif.
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 7.85 percent
BeerAdvocate.com rating: 97
Brewery distributes in Colorado: Yes
Description: "This beer is a ‘cereal medley’ of barley, rye, wheat, and oats…. Full of complex-ish-ness from the four grains. Then joyously dry-hopped for that big aroma and resinous hop flavor."
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7. Dogfish Head Brewery's 90 Minute IPA
Brewed in: Milton, Del.
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 9 percent
BeerAdvocate.com rating: 95
Brewery distributes in Colorado: Yes
Description: "Esquire magazine calls our 90 Minute IPA 'perhaps the best IPA in America.' An imperial IPA best savored from a snifter, 90 Minute has a great malt backbone that stands up to the extreme hopping rate."
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8. Stone Brewing Co.'s Enjoy By IPA
Brewed in: Escondido, Calif.
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 9.4 percent
BeerAdvocate.com rating: 98
Brewery distributes in Colorado: Yes
Description: "You have in your hands a devastatingly fresh double IPA. While freshness is a key component of many beers - especially big, citrusy, floral IPAs - we've taken it further, a lot further, in this IPA. You see, we specifically brewed it NOT to last."
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9. Founders Brewing Co.'s Breakfast Stout
Brewed in: Grand Rapids, Mich.
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 8.3 percent
BeerAdvocate.com rating: 100
Brewery distributes in Colorado: No
Description: "Brewed with an abundance of flaked oats, bitter and imported chocolates, and Sumatra and Kona coffee, this stout has an intense fresh-roasted java nose topped with a frothy, cinnamon-colored head that goes forever."
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10. Goose Island Beer Company's Bourbon County Stout
Brewed in: Chicago, Ill.
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 14.2 percent
BeerAdvocate.com rating: 100
Brewery distributes in Colorado: Yes
Description: "A liquid as dark and dense as a black hole with thick foam the color of a bourbon barrel. The nose is an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke."

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