Beer

Pliny the Elder knocked from top of American beer heap in new rankings

Two Hearted Ale from Bell’s Brewing has been judged the best beer in the United States, knocking Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Elder out of the top spot for the first time in nine years.
Two Hearted Ale from Bell’s Brewing has been judged the best beer in the United States, knocking Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Elder out of the top spot for the first time in nine years.

For the first time in nine years, Pliny the Elder is no longer judged to be the best beer in the United States.

New rankings from a survey conducted by Zymurgy magazine – published by the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) – and released this week, listed a new king of beers, though Pliny and its parent Russian River Brewing Co. continued to fare exceptionally well. California in general was well-represented among breweries and beers judged to be the cream of the crop.

The rankings, based on voting by AHA members, were in three categories: top-ranked beers; top-ranked breweries; and top-ranked beer portfolios.

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Russian River Brewing Co., packed as usual with patrons, is considered one the country’s best breweries and produces, in Pliny the Elder, one of the best beers. Randall Benton rbenton@sacbee.com

Chosen as the country’s best beer in the 15th annual judging was Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, from Bell’s Brewery in Comstock, Mich. Right behind at No. 2 was Pliny the Elder, which had reigned for eight straight years.

Celebration Ale from Chico’s Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., came in tied for eighth, one notch ahead of Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing, a San Diego brewery whose co-founder Pete A’Hearn earned his master brewer’s certificate from UC Davis.

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Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. has a collection of beers that is considered one of the best in the United States. Randy Pench rpench@sacbee.com

Bell’s Brewery was chosen as the best brewery, a step ahead of Founders Brewing Co., another Michigan outfit, and Russian River. Sierra Nevada was ranked fourth

Lagunitas Brewing Co. of Petaluma was in the top 10 at No. 9.

Finally, the brewing company considered to possess the best portfolio of beers was Stone Brewing, a Southern California company that produces 31 beers. Bell’s Brewery was second, followed by Firestone Walker Brewing Co., headquartered n the Paso Robles area, Sierra Nevada and Lagunitas, tied for No. 5 with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.

Complete rankings can be found on the AHA website.

Three beer experts - Rob Archie, owner of Pangaea Bier Cafe, talks with Kate Whelan, director of Sacramento Beer Week, and Jesse Sahlin, founder of Craft Creamery - riff on the differences between IPA's, Pale Ale's and why Pliny was a breakthrough

Brian Blomster: 916-326-5512, @b_blomster

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