THE BEST BREWERIES ADDENDUM

The King of Beers.

After publishing our “Best Breweries” post, a few commenters asked if I could expand the list to include the next 10 American breweries (I had only looked at RateBeer’s Top 10) and perhaps look at some of the top foreign breweries as well. I agreed that this was a worthy endeavor (or at least as worthy as such an inane exercise can be) so I decided to look at RateBeer’s Top 25 overall breweries (which includes 20 American and 5 foreign ale factories) and crunched the numbers the same way I did in the original post.*

*I multiplied the overall GPA of every beer from a brewery by the number of ratings for said beer. Then I added up all of those products, divided by the total number of reviews for the brewery, and ended up with a “cumulative GPA”. As I noted in the earlier post, this gives much more weight to beers that have a lot more reviews which makes more sense to me since those beers are generally the flagships or prestige offerings from the brewery.

There were, as some commenters predicted, a few surprises. The biggest was probably Hair of the Dog which sat at #15 on RateBeer’s list but vaulted up to #3 amongst all American breweries. The small, Portland outfit has always been a favorite amongst Aleheads thanks to their high-gravity Old Ales and Barleywines, but I was still surprised to see just how beloved they truly are. Otherwise, most of the Top 10 breweries stayed roughly where they were. Hoppin’ Frog, ranked #20 on RateBeer, leaped onto the list at #9…just barely squeaking past Cigar City. And Kuhnhenn, which sits at #10 on RateBeer (and on my original list) surprisingly dropped aaaaaall the way down to #25 and was surpassed by breweries like Great Divide, Firestone Walker and Avery.

Much less surprising was Westvleteren absolutely crushing all comers when you include foreign breweries in the calculation. Westy only makes four beers, and two of them (the 12 and the 8) are obscenely well-rated (the other two aren’t exactly slacking either). In my opinion, Westy should be left off the Best Breweries list since they’ve really only demonstrated mastery over a very small number of beer styles. That’s not to say that they WOULDN’T make a kick-ass DIPA or Scotch Ale (I wouldn’t put anything past those magnificent bastards), but it hardly seems fair to compare a centuries-old Trappist brewery that only makes a tiny handful of beers to an outfit like Cigar City which has nearly 300 beers reviewed on RateBeer.

As for the results, I won’t go into detail about the breweries like I did in the first post. I’ll just list them in order, with their location and overall GPA. I’m including the foreign breweries along with the domestics, but I’ll bold the American ale factories just so its easier for you to visually remove the foreigners from your mental list:

1. Westvleteren (Westvleteren, Belgium) 4.27
2. AleSmith (San Diego, CA) 3.99
3. Russian River (Santa Rosa, CA) 3.95
4. Hair of the Dog (Portland, OR) 3.88
5. De Struise (Oostvleteren, Belgium) 3.87
6. Hill Farmstead (Greensboro, VT) 3.84
7. Stone (Escondido, CA) 3.83
8. Founders (Grand Rapids, MI) 3.83
9. Three Floyds (Munster, IN) 3.82
10. Surly (Brooklyn Center, MN) 3.78
11. Hoppin’ Frog (Akron, OH) 3.77
12. Cigar City (Tampa, FL) 3.75
13. Bell’s (Kalamazoo, MI) 3.71
14. Green Flash (San Diego, CA) 3.71
15. Great Divide (Denver, CO) 3.70
16. Alpine (Alpine, CA) 3.69
17. Mikkeller (Copenhagen, Denmark) 3.68
18. Dieu Du Ciel (Montreal, Canada) 3.67
19. Firestone Walker (Paso Robles, CA)3.65
20. Dogfish Head (Milton, DE) 3.65
21. New Glarus (New Glarus, WI) 3.64
22. De Molen (Bodegraven, Netherlands) 3.64
23. Avery (Boulder, CO) 3.62
24. Southern Tier (Lakewood, NY) 3.62
25. Kuhnhenn (Warren, MI) 3.61

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3 comments

  1. LovesMustard · · Reply

    I think this method provides a better and closer reality of how good those beers are. But I still find ratebeer.com problematic.

    There’s just a high number of unrealistic, high ratings by people who just want their favorite beer from their local brewery to be recognized or esteemed.

    For example, it’s surprising to see so many high ratings for Canadian beers out of Quebec and Ontario but not much out of coastal BC which is, arguably, Canada’s most progressive craft brew region. I like Dieu Du Ciel as much as the next guy (and I’m not a big fan of Unibrou) but is Dieu really better than Driftwood?

    It’s too bad there’s not a ratebeer_using_blind_taste_testing.com

  2. De Molen, Bodegraven is from the Netherlands instead of Belgium.

    1. Dank u vel, Jeroen.

      Correction made…

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