For the past 15 years, the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) has polled readers of Zymurgy magazine (a publication by AHA) to compile the annual cult list “Best Beers in America.” For the last eight of those fifteen years, Pliny the Elder from Santa Rosa’s Russian River Brewing Company (RRBC) has been voted the number one beer in America.
This year, however, a Michigan beer has managed to impress the 4,000 voters enough to knock Pliny into second place. Two Hearted Ale from Bell’s Brewery in Galesburg, MI, took the top spot on AHA’s 2017 list. The Michigan brew had been voted the number two brew for the last two years and, this year, Bell’s Brewery also made the number five spot with Hopslam, a triple IPA that is now available in cans.
Bell’s founder Larry Bell started as a homebrewer in the 1970’s in the Michigan town of Kalamazoo. In 2001, the company expanded and built a new brewery and larger production facility in Comstock, MI. Since then, the brewery has increased distribution, including California in 2015, making Bell’s beers readily available to beer drinkers across the U.S.
Russian River brewmaster Vinnie Cilurzo first brewed Pliny the Elder in 2000, for the first double IPA festival in Hayward, CA. The beer, brewed with Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ and Simcoe Hops, is named after Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher Pliny the Elder – the uncle of Pliny the Younger). The beer is sold at the Santa Rosa brewpub, both on draft and by the bottle and is produced in limited quantities. Because of the limited production, the beer is only available for purchase in select states and cities including California, Philadelphia, PA, Colorado and Oregon. Pliny the Elder is smooth, clean and well balanced with floral aromas and notes of pine and citrus.
Here are the top 10 beers in America, according to AHA (the “T” indicates a tie):
1. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale (Comstock, MI)
2. Russian River Pliny the Elder (Santa Rosa, CA)
3. Founders Breakfast Stout (Grand Rapids, MI)
4. Three Floyds Zombie Dust (Munster, IN)
5. Bell’s Hopslam (Comstock, MI)
6. T6. Founders KBS, Kentucky Breakfast Stout (Grand Rapids, MI)
7. T6. The Alchemist Heady Topper (Stowe, VT)
8. T8. Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA (Bend, OR)
9. T8. Sierra Nevada Celebration (Chico, CA)
10. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA (San Diego, CA)
To see the full Best Beers in America list, click here.