California Dominates States for Best Craft Beers in America

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The 15th annual Best Beers in America survey conducted by Zymurgy magazine was released earlier this month.

Pliny the Elder double IPA from Santa Clara, California’s Russian River Brewing had been ranked the best beer in America ever since it dethroned Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA in the 2009 ranking. However, in this latest survey, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, a Michigan-born brew made by Bell’s Brewery, was selected as the best beer, leaving Pliny the Elder in the number two spot.

This poll was conducted of readers of Zymurgy, a publication of Boulder, Colorado-based American Homebrewers Association. The resulting list includes 50 of the best beers sold in America. They include extremely rare and more commercially available beers, as well as brews with a drinkable, low alcohol content and beers with such a high alcohol by volume (ABV) they might as well be liquor.

Besides Russian River, two other California breweries also captured places in the top 10: Sierra Nevada Brewing of Chico and Ballast Point Brewing of San Diego. Of the top 50 beers in America, California snagged 14 spots in this latest ranking. Given that California’s estimated population of about 39.1 million in 2015 would be about 12% of the total U.S. population, that gave the state 28% of the top 50 beers representation.

Below is a look at the 14 California beers that made this list, but be sure to check out the full list of the top 50 beers in America.


Firestone Walker Union Jack
> Brewery: Firestone Walker Brewing Company
> Rank: Tied for 47th
> Type: West coast style IPA
> ABV: 7.0%

Union Jack is a brew that punches your taste buds with flavors of grapefruit and tangerine with each sip. The ale gets its name from the British gentleman who co-founded the brewery and refers to the colonial origins of the IPA style.

Russian River Consecration
> Brewery: Russian River Brewing Company
> Rank: Tied for 43rd
> Type: Dark ale
> ABV: 10%

The Homebrewers Association survey shows that beer fanatics go crazy for Russian River Consecration, but wine aficionados might just love it, too. Why? It’s nearly a hybrid of the two. Dark ale is aged in barrels that used to house gallons of Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged between four to eight months with black currants, this ale reveals notes of the berry as well as chocolate truffle and spice.

Stone Enjoy By IPA
> Brewery: Stone Brewing
> Rank: Tied for 38th
> Type: IPA
> ABV: 9.4%

More than a dozen hops go into this double IPA, and Stone Brewery wants you to enjoy it fresh. That’s why the enjoy-by date is clearly printed on the label so that you’ll drink it at its prime hour.