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Monday, January 29, 2018

Best Craft Breweries in the U.S., 2017

A couple of years ago, I cobbled together a list of the best craft breweries in the the U.S. based on three separate rankings ("The Best Craft Breweries in the U.S."). It seems like it's time for an update. To such an end, I tracked down three recent rankings of the U.S. craft brewers:
The first and third ranked the top fifty craft breweries, while the second ranked the top 25. Thus, I took the top 25 from each of the three lists, assigned each brewery points based on their ranking (25 for first, 24 for second, 23 for third, etc.), added them together, and arrived at a preliminary ranking of the top craft breweries in the U.S (46 in total). I then eliminated any brewery that was only listed in one of the rankings (I didn't do this two years ago, but it was possible for a brewery to be ranked high in one ranking, be completely missing from the other two, and still end up in the top 20, which struck me as misleading), which left me with 23 breweries in the following order:
  1. Bell’s Brewery, Kalamazoo, MI
  2. Sierra Nevada Brewing, Chico, CA
  3. Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA
  4. Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR
  5. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE
  6. Founders Brewing, Grand Rapids, MI
  7. Russian River Brewing, Santa Rosa, CA
  8. New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO
  9. Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma, CA
  10. Ballast Point Brewing, San Diego, CA
  11. Firestone Walker Brewing, Paso Robles, CA
  12. Odell Brewing, Fort Collins, CO
  13. 3 Floyds Brewing, Munster, IN
  14. Oskar Blues Brewery, Longmont, CO
  15. The Alchemist, Waterbury, VT
  16. Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL
  17. New Glarus Brewing, New Glarus, WI
  18. Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY
  19. Avery Brewing, Boulder, CO
  20. Great Lakes Brewing, Cleveland, OH
  21. Left Hand Brewing, Longmont, CO
  22. Victory Brewing, Downingtown, PA
  23. Goose Island Beer Company, Chicago, IL
I then decided to modify the rankings based on each brewery's overall score on "Untappd," which is probably the most popular app for rating different beers. To accomplish this, I first rescaled the original number of points to scores ranging from 3.0 to 5.0 and then added the brewery's Untappd score (although a beer can be ranked from 1.0 to 5.0 on Untapped, most breweries overall scores, which is a weighted average of its scores on all the beers it has ever made available, range between 3.0 to 5.0). After adding these two scores together, the top 23 craft breweries are as follows:
  1. Bell’s Brewery, Kalamazoo, MI
  2. Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA
  3. Sierra Nevada Brewing, Chico, CA
  4. Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR
  5. Russian River Brewing, Santa Rosa, CA
  6. Founders Brewing, Grand Rapids, MI
  7. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE
  8. The Alchemist, Waterbury, VT
  9. Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma, CA
  10. Firestone Walker Brewing, Paso Robles, CA
  11. New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO
  12. 3 Floyds Brewing, Munster, IN
  13. Ballast Point Brewing, San Diego, CA
  14. Odell Brewing, Fort Collins, CO
  15. Oskar Blues Brewery, Longmont, CO
  16. Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL
  17. New Glarus Brewing, New Glarus, WI
  18. Avery Brewing, Boulder, CO
  19. Great Lakes Brewing, Cleveland, OH
  20. Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY
  21. Left Hand Brewing, Longmont, CO
  22. Victory Brewing, Downingtown, PA
  23. Goose Island Beer Company, Chicago, IL
The two sets of rankings don't differ appreciably. The top four remain the same although Stone and Sierra Nevada switch places. Russian River moves up to #5 in the second ranking, and it probably should even be higher since it wasn't included at all in the Brewers Association top 50, something that strikes me as very odd. The Alchemist brewery made the biggest leap between the two lists, from #15 on the first to #8 on the second, reflecting the fact that of all 23 breweries, it has the highest Untappd rating.

Another weakness in the rankings is that a number of great breweries exist that have yet to capture national attention. The Crux Fermentation Project in Bend, Oregon, is an excellent example, as is Fieldwork Brewing Company in Berkeley, and Hapa's in San Jose. And, of course, I'm only aware of them because I visited them; other readers can certainly point to others that deserve consideration. Nevertheless, I don't think anyone would deny that the 23 breweries listed above are all excellent and deserving of their status.

1 comment:

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