The results are in for the 10th annual "Best Beers in America" poll from Zymurgy magazine, craftbeer.com reports. A Colorado-based publication of the American Homebrewers Association (AHA), Zymurgy has long asked its readers to vote for their favorite commercially available beers. This year's polling numbers set records, with 16,445 beer geeks voting, most of them home brewers.
Further accolades are given to Brewery Ranking, for total votes received for any given brewery; Best Portfolio, to the brewery with the most labels represented; Top Imports, for the international brews that make the best beer list; and Spirit of Homebrew, where smaller production breweries are ranked by dividing total votes by annual barrel production.
Wondering who votes for best beer? Speaking of her survey, magazine editor Jill Redding writes, "The Zymurgy readers' poll grows in numbers and prestige each year. As home brewers and beer lovers, our readers have some of the most sophisticated and knowledgeable palates on the planet." We think there may be a learning curve, considering the inclusion of a few beers and the exclusion of others, in this year's list.
When considered with top beer sales of 2011 (see our coverage here), one can draw conclusions about how availability affects polling numbers: The more widely distributed a beer is, the more likely it is to be voted. And while the publication is based in Colorado, we don't know whether a majority of subscribers are California residents.
Looking at numbers exclusively, California beer continues to win popularity contests and highest volume consumed (see sales), which kind of makes our beloved beer sound like a cheap date. For Best Beer, California beers comprise 40.8% of the list, for brewery rankings 32% are in our state, 25% of best portfolios are California brewers and (to some the most rewarding result) the top four out of five Homebrew Spirit Award recipients call California home. Go to the AHA site for a list of complete results.
Best Beer in America, California Results
1. Pliny the Elder, Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa
4. Pale Ale, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico
5. Arrogant Bastard Ale, Stone Brewing Co., Escondido
7. Celebration, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico
8. Ruination IPA, Stone Brewing Co., Escondido
9. Torpedo, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico
11. Union Jack, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles
12. Ruthless Rye, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico
13. Racer 5, Bear Republic Brewing Co., Healdsburg
16. Double Jack, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles
T17. Sculpin IPA, Ballast Point Brewing Co., San Diego
T17. Bigfoot Barleywine, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico
19. Stone IPA, Stone Brewing Co., Escondido
T25. Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, Stone Brewing Co., Escondido
T31. Little Sumpin Sumpin, Lagunitas Brewing Co., Petaluma
T35. Lagunitas IPA, Lagunitas Brewing Co., Petaluma
T37. Blind Pig IPA, Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa
T44. Anchor Steam, Anchor Brewing Co., San Francisco
T44. Hop Stoopid, Lagunitas Brewing Co., Petaluma
T48. Pliny the Younger, Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa
Brewery Rankings, California Results
1. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico
3. Stone Brewing Co., Escondido
4. Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa
7. Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles
9. Lagunitas Brewing Co., Petaluma
23. North Coast Brewing Co., Fort Bragg
24. Bear Republic Brewing Co., Healdsburg
25. Green Flash Brewing Co., San Diego
Best Portfolio, California Results
T4. The Bruery (27 beers)
T8. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (25 beers)
T13. Lagunitas Brewing Co. (22 beers)
T18. Stone Brewing Co. (20 beers)
T24. Firestone Walker Brewing Co. (16 beers)
T24. Russian River Brewing Co. (16 beers)
Spirit of Homebrew, California Results
1. Alpine Beer Co., Alpine
2. Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa
3. The Bruery, Placentia
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4. AleSmith Brewing Co., San Diego
(T: indicates a tie)
What do you think of the validity of this list? Does it represent the best commercially available beers in America? Let us know what's missing in the comments.