Monday, January 7, 2008

Some Rankings - Part 1 - Breweries

Top 5 Favorite U.S. Breweries

1a. Russian River - I've tried 12 beers from this brewery and the lowest score I've given one on BeerAdvocate is a 4.3, which is not even low enough to get into A- range! Every beer I've had from them is very good to amazing, most falling towards the latter. A couple of my absolute favorites have been lip puckering beers like the 100% brettanomyces blonde ale Sanctification, wild ales Temptation and the blended Toronado 20th Anniversary Ale, along with American style beers such as Lap Dance Pale Ale and Blind Pig IPA.

1b. Port Brewing/Lost Abbey - A wide range of beers are available from this collaboration with Port Brewing's general (but not so general) American style and The Lost Abbey's Belgian-inspired beers. Port is home to some amazing hop treats such as Wipeout IPA and Hop 15. The show stopper for Port Brewing in my opinion is Older Viscosity, the 100% bourbon barrel aged version of their strong ale Old Viscosity. The Lost Abbey provides for some very complex and tasty beers such as Cuvee de Tomme- a Quadruple turned into a barrel aged sour cherry dark ale, Red Poppy- a brown ale turned into a Flanders Style Red Ale that bursts with sour cherry flavor, and Red Barn Ale- a spicy and effervescent Saison.

3. Deschutes - Deschutes was one of the first breweries I really started feeling a sense of loyalty to when I first started my craft beer obsession. The first one to get me was Black Butte Porter, which remains to be one of my favorite beers. I then experienced the ever popular Mirror Pond Pale Ale, which will never be a bad choice, but if you want something more exciting then Inversion IPA is a great treat. They have some other great beers, but the Hop Trip fresh hop pale ale I had a couple weeks ago is to me the standard of what a fresh hop pale ale should taste like.

4. Sierra Nevada - If Deschutes was one of the first breweries I really explored with passion, then Sierra Nevada was THE first. I might be picking this more with my heart than my head due to the role they played in the early phases of my craft beer obsession. The Pale Ale is NEVER a bad choice when one is in the mood for a pale ale- I don't care how ubiquitous it is. However, when Sierra Nevada starts to experiment even more with the hops the result can be sublime. Exhibits 1, 2 and 3- Harvest Ale, Celebration Ale, and Torpedo IPA.

5. Stone - With all the debate that goes on about whether Stone's reputation is a product of their beers or a product of their crafty marketing, you can find me on the left side of the fence enjoying the beer. I'll admit that I won't go to some of their BIG beers too often. I'm talking mainly about Double Bastard along with 10th & 11th Anniversaries. On the other hand they can make delicious big beers like the Russian Imperial Stout, which is especially amazing with a little age on it. One of their more standard offerings, the Pale Ale, is one of the best you might find of the style, especially taking into account they don't bother using any Cascade hops in it. Now where else can you find a pale ale like that? The Smoked Porter is good but wait till they throw in some Vanilla Bean and then you have yourself a treat. It's quite convenient that I can cap off this little blurb about Stone and then entire blog with mention of an amazing double IPA- Ruination.


Mattias said...

Yes, we could at least agree on the winner;

From my list;
1. Russian River Brewing Company (Santa Rosa, CA)
2. Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
3. Bell's Brewery, Inc (Kalamazoo, MI)
4. Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, CA)
5. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Milton, DE)

(Almost on the list; Three Floyds & Great Divide)

Ken said...

So, is there a slight West Coast Bias at work here? I can understand, they are all great brewers. I live in the west coast (Arizona) but grew up on the east, and have a love of some of the east coast brewers. Allagash in my home state of Maine is great, and Ommegang in NY does some great stuff. If you haven't already, see if you can get your hands on some of them and give them a try, well worth it! (great list by the way)

Steve said...

haha, yes Ken, there is definitely some west-coast bias here. And it's purely because I have to pick from breweries where I've tried an extensive portion of their offerings. I've had beers from many east coast breweries, and while I love single offerings like Nugget Nectar, Hopslam, DFH60, Alpha King etc I can't name those respective breweries my favorite b/c I've had maybe like one or two beers from their lineup. Allagash Tripel is one of my favorites :)