Friday, April 1, 2011

Beer Advocate's Top 100 West Coast Beer List

The folks over at the Beer Advocate in Boston, MA provide an amazing service to the world: they provide comprehensive statistics and at-a-glance profiles on craft beer that are unrivaled in the beer universe. Their content is available free online, and they also publish a magazine that's a steal at $19.99 for 12 monthly issues.

Alström Brothers, Jason & Todd
Todd and Jason Alstrom
We recently became aware of the Beer Advocate's Top 100 Lists, specifically their Top Beers - West Coast division. A quick email to Todd Alstrom (who along with his brother, Jason, founded Beer Advocate back in 1996) revealed that the list is dynamic - i.e., constantly updated, but if you're accessing the list sometime around the date of this post (3/28/11), Todd says the list has been up for about a week.

For this column, we're going to pick the California beers out of the first 25, then isolate the beer brewed in Southern California -- let's say from San Luis Obispo County southward, and see what we come up with.

First, all of California:

1, 2, 6, 14, 16, and 21: Russian River Brewery, Santa Rosa, NOR CAL
4, 10, 24: The Bruery, Orange County, SO CAL
3: Kern River Brewing Company, Kernville, SO CAL
7, 13: The Lost Abbey, San Diego, SO CAL
8: Ballast Point, San Diego, SO CAL
9, 15: AleSmith Brewing, San Diego, SO CAL
11, 17: Firestone Walker, Paso Robles, SO CAL (north)
18: Stone Brewing, San Diego, SO CAL
20: Fifty/Fifty, Truckee NOR CAL
22: Alpine, San Diego SO CAL
23: Bootlegger's Brewery, Fullerton SO CAL
25: Moonlight Brewing Company, San Francisco NOR CAL

The beer on this list that we've had the pleasure to taste
Russian River: Pliny the Elder, Supplication, Temptation, Consecration, Beatification
Ballast Point: Sculpin IPA
AleSmith: Speedway Stout
Stone: Imperial Russian Stout
Bootlegger's: Knuckle Sandwich

Now, the SO CAL breakdown
13 of the Top Beers on the West Coast

  • San Diego County-7
    Lost Abbey-2, Ballast-1, AleSmith-2, Stone-1, Alpine-1
  • Orange County-4
    Bruery-3, Bootlegger's-1
  • Kern County-1
    Kern River
  • San Luis Obispo County-1

SCCB in Pelican Pub Hat
Random Observations

  1. There were only three Non-California breweries - all from Oregon - in the Top 25 on Beer Advocate's list: Deschutes (5) and Hair of the Dog (19) from Portland; and Pelican Pub & Brewery (12) from Pacific City. SCCB had the pleasure of dining and sipping beer at Pelican Pub several years ago. He's proud of his yellow Pelican Pub hat.
  2. Breweries in the Top 25 SCCB had never heard of: Kern River, FiftyFity, Alpine
  3. "Chocolate Rain"? Really?
  4. Just got this note from Russian River: they're celebrating the 7th anniversary of the opening of their brewpub. When I complimented my NOR CAL homebrewing buddy Ted Andersen on RR's stellar showing on this list - that's his neighborhood pub - he had several observations (caution: Ted can be a bit of a curmudgeon)

    A. "People have got to get over their @#$%& infatuation with Russian River . . . I can't get even find a seat there, anymore, when I visit once a week . . . and its become too much of a singles scene and I can't play dominoes with me wife no more in peace..."

    B. "The Beer Advocate List, despite all their boolean algorithms and whatnot, makes me wonder about marketing and the availabilty of the beers. For me in NorCal, AleSmith is pretty hard to find, and they occupy a few mid-range slots on the list. The Bruery is thoroughly impossible to find, and how much do they bottle?"
    Ted Andersen in the garden

    C. "Russian River is very very very smart at the Economics of scarcity (witness Elder), and who they tap on the head with their sword to be allowed a tap-handle, but their bottles are about everywhere. I guess what I'm getting at is that the algorithm is not incorporating pointy-headed-neurnons in the marketting dep't who are making sure the beer gets out there to as many stores as possible. Harrumph."

Please "Like" the So Cal Craft Beer page on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter @socalcraftbeer
Please "Follow" the SCCB Blog here: if you're having trouble doing that, drop us a line at:
You can also find us "doing business as" the Ventura Craft Beer Examiner