City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Beer Town: What’s the best beer in America?

Given that the voters are homebrewers, I’m always interested in the results of the annual Zymurgy magazine 50 Best Beers in America poll. This year, like the past three years in a row, the readers put Pliny the Elder at the top.

Pliny-LogoThe double IPA from Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa, Calif., isn’t available in Atlanta. In fact, outside of California it’s only distributed in the states of Oregon, Washington and Colorado, though oddly you can find it around Philadelphia.

Pliny is a really great beer. When I’ve had it at Russian River, I’ve thought it deserved to be ranked as the top double IPA in America. But is it the best beer in America? Or does its scarcity push it to the status of a Proustian object of desire?

One thing’s for sure, homebrewers love hops.

Finishing second for the third straight year was Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, an IPA that is available in Atlanta and might get my vote for go-to beer at any bar or restaurant. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, another highly rated, big, hoppy beer that’s ubiquitous around Atlanta, came in third again.

The rest of beers in the Top 10 also are familiar in Atlanta: 4. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale 5. Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale 6. Bell’s Hopslam 7. Sierra Nevada Celebration 8. Stone Ruination IPA 9. Sierra Nevada Torpedo 10. North Coast Old Rasputin.

Among the results likely to elicit the raised eyebrow response among beer geeks: at No. 20, New Belgium Fat Tire; at 31, Samuel Adams Boston Lager, which tied with Lagunitas Little Sumpin Sumpin and Rogue Dead Guy; and at 44 Anchor Steam, which tied with Alaskan Smoked Porter, Lagunitas Hop Stoopid and Samuel Adams Noble Pils.

Of course, in addition to Pliny the Elder and Alaskan Smoked Porter, there are still a lot of beers in the top 50 that aren’t available in Atlanta, including Firestone Walker Union Jack, Bear Republic Racer 5, Firestone Walker Double Jack and Ballast Point Sculpin IPA.


If you are a hop head, you’ll be happy to know that IPA Day returns Aug. 2, when IPA aficionados from around the world will gather to celebrate what’s become one of the most brewed and beloved craft beer styles.

Here in Atlanta, Sweetwater Brewing Co. is vying to become the top spot for IPA Day festivities.

Last year, Sweetwater ranked No. 2 nationwide for IPA Day party check-ins. This year, head brewer Nick Nock will be breaking into the hoppy beer stash to pour kegs of Fresh Sticky Nugs, Buckeye’d Brown Eye, Wet Dream, Woodford Reserve Barrel aged IPA, Border Hopper and Hop Ghoulash, along with Lowryeder, the new rye IPA, and the classic Sweetwater IPA.


Sweetwater celebrates IPA Day. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Aug. 2. 195 Ottley Drive N.E., Atlanta. 404-691-2537,

Are you a fan of hoppy beers? What do you think about the results of the 2012 Zymurgy poll?

— Bob Townsend, AJC Drink blog

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