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Eric Strader
Eric Strader
Eric Strader writes about the craft beer scene in Indiana and Michigan. He's a dad, husband, potter, soccer coach, special education paraprofessional, who likes to read, bike, hike, and canoe.



What's the best beer in America? American Homebrewers Association announces 2014 list of the best beers in America

Nine regional beers and five regional breweries are named as part of this years best beers in America from the American Homebrewers Association.


Posted on July 7, 2014 at 11:20 a.m.

I hope that you all had a great July 4th weekend. We joined family at Lake Michigan and actually put my advice of cans to good use at the beach. In between floating on inner tubes, digging in the sand, and just plain lazing in the sun, I enjoyed a Surly Overrated (West Coast style IPA, 7.3% ABV, IBUs 69). I brought this back from a recent trip to Minneapolis. I love Surly and this is what they printed on the side of the can.

It's been said: "It's easier to brew an extremely hoppy beer than an extremely balanced beer." And you know us, we are always looking for the easy way out, so we jumped on the West Coast IPA Bandwagon and brewed this dry and hoppy ale. "Surly's a little bit of a one-trick pony, they just brew gimmick beers," and maybe we are OVERRATED, but at the end of the day, it's just a beer. If you like it, great, so do we. If you only liked us when we were small, then leave this one on the shelf. Let one of the fanboys grab it.

I am happy to be one of the fanboys. Unfortunately, you have to know someone in Minnesota or travel there yourself to get some of this incredible beer. Later in the afternoon, I cracked a Blackrocks 52K IPA (7% ABV). Blackrocks is located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and at this point distribution is only in select cities in the Lower Peninsula. I have heard that it may be found as far south of the Mackinac bridge as Grand Rapids, but I have not seen it myself.

Each year, readers of Zymurgy (the official magazine of the American Homebrewer’s Association) weigh in on their top 20 favorite beers available commercially in the United States. The poll for 2014 was taken recently, votes were tallied and the results are in.

Russian River Brewing Company took the first place beer for the sixth year in a row with Pliny the Elder (double IPA, 8% ABV, IBUs high) and Bell’s Brewery took second place for the fifth year in a row with Two Hearted (7% ABV). Both are great beers, and in fact a couple of years ago I was able to do a side by side taste test with fresh bottles of Pliny and Bell’s Hopslam (ranked number 4 on this year’s list, double IPA, 10% ABV). I’m going to give you my very diplomatic opinion in that both are great beers and taste amazing. I would take either one at any time to enjoy.

Other regional beers on the list include:

#9 Founders Breakfast Stout (8.3% ABV, IBUs 60)

#10 Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (14.2% ABV, IBUs 60)

#11 Founders KBS (11.2% ABV, IBUs 70)

#14 Three Floyds Zombie Dust (pale ale, 6.2% ABV)

tie #34 Founders All Day IPA (4.7% ABV, IBUs 42)

tie #47 Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald (porter, 5.8% ABV, IBUs 37)

tie #49 Founders Backwoods Bastard (10.2% ABV, IBUs 50)

Regional ranked breweres include:

#2 Bell’s Brewery, Kalamazoo,MIch

#6 Founders Brewing Co., Gr. Rapids, Mich

#11 Three Floyds Brewing Co., Munster, In

#`12 Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago

#23 Great Lakes Brewing Co, Cleveland

Check out the full list of beers and breweries for 2014.

 

 




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 A view of the outside of Right Brain Brewery's location in Traverse City, Mich.

Posted on Aug. 7, 2014 at 10:57 a.m.
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