“All right, brain. You don’t like me and I don’t like you, but let’s just do this and I can get back to killing you with beer.”
– Homer Simpson
Looking for something great to drink? Start with the ABV.
Just kidding. Sort of.
But what does that mean when looking for a top-notch, truly great beer? While we’ve so far kept these rankings in a vacuum, I wanted to put see what would happen with our “best” beers if we put them in more of a head-to-head scenario.
Which is why today we look at the best of the “best” beers from every state and what particular aspects reinforce the belief that to enjoy a great beer, you may not be drinking responsibly.
For this analysis, I started by taking the top-ranked beer from every state and DC, finishing with a list of 51 beers to rank. If you’re curious about Beer Advocate’s proprietary weighted rating (WR) system, read this.
All the beers selected will appear below, but if you want to see the unadulterated list, here you go.
To focus on drinker preferences, I once again split all the beers into two groups – the top-25 and bottom-26.
Here’s the top half:
|Florida||Barrel-aged Hunahpu||Cigar City||Imperial Stout||11||4.73||35|
|Iowa||Kentucky Brunch||Toppling Goliath||Imperial Stout||13||4.71||35|
|California||Pliny the Younger||Russian River||DIPA||11||4.68||12|
|Illinois||BCBS Coffee||Goose Island||Imperial Stout||13.4||4.67||35|
|Indiana||Barrel-aged Vanilla Bean Dark Lord||Three Floyds||RIS||15||4.66||35|
|Connecticut||Fuzzy Baby Ducks||New England Brewing||IPA||6.2||4.56||11|
|Missouri||Barrel-aged Abraxas||Perennial||Imperial Stout||11||4.56||35|
|Alaska||A Deal with the Devil||Anchorage Brewing||Barleywine||17.3||4.54||15|
|Texas||Atrial Rubicite||Jester King||Wild Ale||5.8||4.54||7|
|Wyoming||2×4 Quadruple Pale||Melvin Brewing||DIPA||10.5||4.5||12|
|Ohio||Columbus Bodhi||Columbus Brewing||DIPA||8||4.47||12|
|Oklahoma||Praire Bomb||Prairie Artisan Ales||Imperial Stout||14||4.47||35|
|New Mexico||Project Dank||La Cumbre||IPA||7.5||4.44||11|
|Wisconsin||Sixteen||Central Waters||Imperial Stout||11||4.43||35|
|Colorado||Uncle Jacob’s Stout||Avery Brewing||Imperial Stout||14.83||4.4||35|
|Washington||Bourbon Abominable Winter Ale||Fremont||Strong Ale||11||4.4||17|
|Maryland||Gose Gone Wild||Stillwater/Westbrook||Gose||4.6||4.4||5|
|Virginia||Bourbon Barrel Resolute||Three Brothers||RIS||13.5||4.37||35|
|South Carolina||Mexican Cake||Westbrook||Imperial Stout||10.5||4.36||35|
… and here’s the bottom:
|North Carolina||Barrel-aged Sexual Chocolate||Foothills||RIS||9.75||4.35||35|
|Utah||Big Bad Baptist||Epic||Imperial Stout||11.8||4.31||35|
|Georgia||Coffee Oatmeal Stout||Terrapin||Imperial Stout||9.4||4.28||35|
|Alabama||Snake Handler||Good People Brewing||DIPA||9.3||4.27||12|
|Delaware||90 Minute||Dogfish Head||DIPA||9||4.27||12|
|Kansas||Old Backus||Free State||Barleywine||10.5||4.26||15|
|New Jersey||A Night to End All Dawns||Kane Brewing||Imperial Stout||13||4.26||35|
|Kentucky||Bo & Luke||Against the Grain||RIS||14||4.25||35|
|New Hampshire||Baltic Porter||Smuttynose||Baltic Porter||9.24||4.25||25|
|Montana||Barrel-aged Ivan the Terrible||Big Sky||RIS||10||4.24||35|
|New York||Choklat||Southern Tier||Imperial Stout||10||4.24||35|
|Nebraska||Melange A Trois In French Oak Chardonnay Barrels||Nebraksa Brewing||Belgian Strong||10||4.09||17|
|Idaho||Trout Hop||Grand Teton||Black Ale||8.5||4.01||35|
|Hawaii||CoCoNut Porter||Maui Brewing||Porter||6||3.99||29|
|Nevada||Bourbon Barrel RIS||Joseph James Brewing||RIS||9.5||3.98||35|
|Mississippi||Timber Beast||Lazy Magnolia||DIPA||9||3.91||12|
|West Virginia||Dun Glen||Bridge Brew Works||Dubbel||7.08||3.86||14|
|North Dakota||Feast Like a Sultan||Laughing Sun||IPA||7.2||3.79||11|
|Louisiana||IRISh Channel||New Orleans Lager & Ale Brewing||Stout||6.8||3.77||35|
|Arkansas||Paradise Porter||Diamond Bear Brewing||Porter||6.24||3.76||29|
|South Dakota||Pile O Dirt||Crow Peak||Porter||6||3.7||29|
To highlight the differences, here’s the quick and dirty look at the averaged ABV, weighted rating and SRM (color) from both of the above lists, pitted against the averages for all 507 beers pulled from my original list for comparison:
||All Beer AVG|
|10.5 ABV||8.9 ABV||8.1 ABV|
|4.52 WR||4.1 WR||4.06 WR|
|23 SRM||24 SRM||18 SRM|
One new twist I wanted to include was the value for Standard Reference Method, or SRM, which measures the color intensity of a beer. In layman’s terms, the higher the number, the darker the beer. A jet-black Russian imperial stout, for example, would register at the top of the scale at 40. For simplicity’s sake, the SRMs for each beer are averaged from their respective style.
So what does this all mean? Well, after yesterday’s look at how ABV might impact ratings, this emphasizes why.
The top-25 clearly has a higher ABV against both the bottom-26 and the overall average, not to mention a rather large difference in Beer Advocate’s weighted ranking score. I was rather surprised the the bottom-26, even though it’s the “best of” what states had to offer, barely beat the “all beer” average in weighted rating.
I included SRM because it once again shows that higher ABV beers (which can often end up being dark stouts or porters like we see here, but obviously not always) perform well. The average SRM for the top and bottom are virtually the same.
Perhaps most important, 18 of the 25 beers in the top half are imperial stouts, double IPAs and a barleywine. Bottom 26? 13 beers from those styles.
Which leads me into the next post nicely. If these are the characteristics that define the best American beers from across the country, what would that patriotic brew look like, exactly? With a little help from my friends, we’re going to find out.
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac