Around the turn of the 20th century, there were over 2,000 breweries in the United States, but by the time 1979 rolled around, that total had dropped to a scant 89 beer producers.
However, that number has risen slowly and steadily since then, and over the past decade or so, America has seen an explosion of breweries thanks in no small part to the skyrocketing popularity of craft beer.
As of last year, there were over 7,000 breweries operating in the country, and while some people speculate we’re in the middle of a microbrew bubble, that number doesn’t show any signs of dropping anytime soon.
The term “beer nerd” once had a negative connotation but more and more people have decided to embrace the label—myself included. I’ve planned vacations around visiting breweries, am constantly on the hunt for new brews I can add to rack up those sweet, sweet Untappd badges, and admittedly rock a bit of a beer gut thanks to my love of boozy suds (thankfully, the Dad Bod is back in style again).
As a result, I always look forward to the Homebrewers Association’s annual list of the best beers in America to make sure I’m not missing out on anything so I was naturally thrilled to see they announced their rankings this week.
Here’s what the top ten looks like:
1. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
2. Russian River Pliny the Elder
3. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
4. Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout)
5. The Alchemist Heady Topper
6. Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS)
T7. Founders All Day IPA
T7. Bell’s Hopslam
T9. Founders Breakfast Stout
T9. WeldWerks Juicy Bits
This year’s list is an interesting mix of accessible beers and more sought after brews, and while you won’t have much trouble finding Two Hearted or Sierra Nevada, you’re going to have to search a little harder for Pliny and Heady Topper—the latter of which blew my mind the first time I tried it and served as my first real introduction to what beer can be.
With that said, it’s hard to go wrong with any of these.