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Are American beers really THAT good?

Speaking of lists, your can read Beer Advocate magazine’s Planet Earth Top 25s at the Stone Brewing website.

I’m a little surprised that 23 of the All-Time Top Breweries are American. And that 22 of the top 25 Top Beer Bars are in the United States.

I’m a little surprised that I’ve had all 25 of the All-Time Top Beers (“New beers comes and go. These are the ones that stuck around.”), and I almost feel a sense of relief that only 17 of them are from North America. But I’m hardly shocked that 24 of the 25 are 6% abv or stronger, most much stronger (the average of the 24 is 8.5% abv).

OK, “a little surprised” might not be the best choice of words. Let’s try “appalled by such American arrogance.”


20 Responses to Are American beers really THAT good?

  1. Chris December 18, 2008 at 10:04 am #

    I wouldn’t even put Stone #1 in North San Diego County.

    Like I said, when All About Beer came out with the ‘125 Beer Places to go before you die’, lists are only good for starting lively discussions over a few beers.

  2. The Beer Nut December 18, 2008 at 10:06 am #

    They’re not claiming that these are the real top 25 of anything though. It says they’re the top rated according to the members of one US-based website. And most of them probably don’t get out much.

  3. Stan Hieronymus December 18, 2008 at 10:36 am #

    There is that “context” thing. But if you just look at this:

    which is pretty easy to do without seeing the intro. It says “All-time Top Breweries on the Planet Earth.”

  4. Kristen England December 18, 2008 at 10:48 am #

    The sheeple have spoken. Mookdom continues its circling of the bowl.

    I would very much like to see how many of these people have actually been to another country that makes beer (Canada doesn’t count).

    That being said, if I was a brewery, what am I going to do, tell the people they are idiots? Um, actually, yeah, I probably would. I’d thank them first but also suggest they expand their minds a little.

  5. SteveH December 18, 2008 at 12:25 pm #

    “The sheeple have spoken. Mookdom continues its circling of the bowl.”

    Hah! Now that’s funny!

    And yeah, there’s just a leetle bit of a skew in that poll.

  6. The Beer Nut December 18, 2008 at 12:56 pm #

    That’s true, Stan. But that’s Stone saying it, and Stone didn’t compile the list. So I’m reading this as another one of Stone’s hilariously tongue-in-cheek “arrogant bastard” publicity things.

    They are all tongue-in-cheek, aren’t they?

  7. Wes December 18, 2008 at 2:10 pm #

    I was surprised that Stone was on there so much and one of my local faves, Anchor Brewing, wasn’t anywhere on the list. Not once! You know, without their California Common Ale (Anchor Steam) it is unlikely that places like Stone would even be around.

  8. danny December 18, 2008 at 2:30 pm #

    if you go to the BA website there already is a thread or six about this stuff. the owners seem a little bit jerkish in how they are responding (imho), saying “if you don’t like it, rate more stuff!”.

    I like lists but this one was worded insanely bad

  9. Chris December 18, 2008 at 2:48 pm #

    Rate more???? Rate less… enjoy more.

  10. Lars Marius Garshol December 18, 2008 at 4:00 pm #

    My impression (and I’m Norwegian) is that US craft beer really is exceptionally good. I’d vote the US the number 1 beer nation on earth, and you can rest assured that’s not out of any general love of the US.

    Still, 23 out of 25 is probably too high. 10-15 might be right.

  11. Kristen England December 18, 2008 at 4:08 pm #


    I’m in agreement with you. I think it may be more like 5 breweries rather than 10. In the WHOLE world? How in the hell does one even remotely consider such a concept. I can definitely see a best ‘style’ top 10 or something but entire brewery?

  12. roan22 December 18, 2008 at 8:41 pm #

    As a proud US Beer Advocate member who rates beers/bars/breweries and seeks out the rare(r) beers, including imports..let me say I agree that the rest of the world is overlooked by most US members…but with the bad economy and concurrent green movement sweeping the nation…all of us are being encouraged by everyone else in our lives [the non beer geeks] to stay and drink local. And I have started doing that more. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know whats going on with international brewers. cheers.


  13. Mike Ring December 18, 2008 at 9:56 pm #

    I’ve got to say that when this issue arrived in my mailbox (yes, I subscribe, but I’m debating renewing, and not for economic reasons) I was rather taken aback at the results of this “poll”. Seriously, I love Hop Leaf and Map Room, but they are not at ALL in the same league as ‘t Brugs Beertje. I would have to agree that the list is either poorly sampled or just plain arrogant.

  14. DT December 19, 2008 at 12:51 pm #

    I don’t subscribe to the magazine and I really don’t rate beers on BA. I figured I’d grab the mag from a local bar to check out why it’s such a bad list. Reading the actual article, it makes it seem like people are grasping at straws here. It says multiple times throughout the pages that the list is comprised of the scores made by BA members. So it’s not on every page, but it’s actually quite a long article and it would be way to repetitive to put a statement on every page/graphic.

    BA is a US based site, so it’s easy to see why it’s largely made up of US beer drinkers. On top of that, it seems very New England focused, as that’s where it all started. So they happen to do a lot more local drinking, I don’t see that as a bad thing. That’s one of the many things that will influence any list.

    BA seems to be getting a lot of crap lately for no good reason. As somebody who enjoys good beer, craft or otherwise, I’m thankful for the information on the BA site and for their incredible events. Saying your “appalled by such American arrogance” seems pretty damn harsh for what it is…a beer list. If 100 people make best beer lists, you’ll end up with 100 different best beer lists. That doesn’t mean one is right and one is wrong, it means everybody has different tastes.

    Maybe everybody should lighten up a little and grab a beer…

  15. Beau December 19, 2008 at 2:31 pm #

    Terrible, terrible lists. I just finished posting my thoughts as klutzbrau.

  16. Stan Hieronymus December 20, 2008 at 8:44 am #

    Rebecca – I’m a big fan of drinking local. That’s all we are doing this year.

    DT, then maybe they shouldn’t aggregate numbers and slap a crazy headline on the list.

  17. Peter December 23, 2008 at 1:50 pm #

    I live in England where some beer is world class but it really has to be sampled from a well kept cask to be appreciated.American drinkers only receive the bottled ,kegged or canned versions of these brews and it’s a bit like comparing instant coffee with a fresh brew from newly ground beans.
    A colleague recently back from the US spoke of very well brewed beer but had difficulty in finding it well served.Ususally it was far too cold and gassy.

  18. Jason Alstrom December 24, 2008 at 12:53 pm #

    Thanks for the coverage … good to know we can still stir thing up like old times.

  19. Stan Hieronymus December 24, 2008 at 7:04 pm #

    “Still,” Jason? If BA isn’t the reigning lightning rod who might be?


  1. Jack Curtin’s LIQUID DIET » Blog Archive » Arrogance. - December 18, 2008

    […] Stan’s got it right. This is embarrassing. […]

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