This article is a continuation of the Top 20 Beers in America List from The Fresh Dish. To see the first part of this post, please click here.
Ok, so back to the list. The following is the top 10 of the Top Beers in America post. These beers that are mentioned here are my favorite beverages in any season. I’m not separating these out by type (lager, bock, IPA, etc…) – that post might come later on. I am also trying to keep this list to beers that are “fairly accessible” nationally, though there will be some that may be only available on either coast or in the middle. I’m also not limiting this to ‘year round’ beers…there may be a few that are only available seasonally. If you agree or disagree let me know, I welcome any input! Here goes my top 10: (ABV = Alcohol content)
**Bonus Beer**: Yuengling Traditional Lager, Yuengling Beer Company, Pottsville, PA
Yuengling Lager is brewed in the oldest brewery in the United States. Opened in 1829 in Pottsvile, PA, Yuengling has been producing their Traditional Lager pretty much ever since. While the beer itself has gotten a face lift or two over the years, the recipe for this Lager has its roots in the grand traditions and method of German beer makers where the Yuengling family emigrated from. While you can only find Yuengling in certain eastern states, I highly recommend trying one the next time you’re in Philadelphia or New York City. It’s light, crisp and refreshing – a bit of sweetness and a clean finish make it extremely drinkable.
Food Pairing: Philly Cheesesteak – Ordered “Wiz With” – Don’t let ‘em fool you, it’s the only way to go.
10. Long Trail Double Bag Long Trail Brewery, Bridgewater Corners, VT
Look out for this beer my friends. A few bottles of this stuff will set you on your rear end, that’s for sure. Aside from Double Bag’s reputation around the New England region for being one of the stronger ale’s of choice, I think the Double Bag stands out for it’s stellar color and robust flavors. Next time you get some of this stuff, pour it into a glass and enjoy the aromas before drinking. The first taste notes I got are toffee and a bit of citrus, but then it finishes pretty hoppy and then very clean. Very drinkable for the amount of alcohol it contains, so watch out. ABV: 7.2%
Food Pairing: I think this would go great with a Pasta dish with some hearty Ragu.
9. Sam Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner Boston Beer Company, Jamaica Plain, MA
A few years back I got the opportunity to take a brewery tour of the Sam Adams operation in Jamaica Plain, just south of Boston. I was both impressed by the simplicity of the operation and the openness of the people who were working there. Though I really do enjoy Sam Winter Lager and find it the most drinkable of the Sam Adams family, I do believe that their Imperial Pilsner is the best beer they produce. This beer is right up there with Pliny the Elder for bringing the most amount of hops to the table. It’s intense, almost overwhelming. One tip I’d give you is to get this beer very cold. It’s a treat to enjoy on special occasions. ABV: 8.8%
Food Pairing: Ribeye Steak – or something that will stand up to it…it’s a force to be reckoned with.
8. Victory Prima Pils Victory Brewing Company, Downington, PA
First of all, thanks to Rob Childs for turning me on to the Victory line-up. All three of their beers that I’ve tried have been very good – Golden Monkey, Hop Devil and Prima Pils. The Prima Pils is here because I think it’s hands down the best pilsner being produced in America today. Pouring it into a glass, the aromas are of wheat and bread, a clean taste – like a super good PBR or Bud. This beer is great in the summer, but good at anytime. If you’re a fan of light beer, give the Prima Pils a shot. ABV: 5.3%
Food Pairing: Swordfish, salmon, sea bass….or just burgers and dogs.
7. Geary’s Summer Ale D.L. Geary Brewing Company, Portland, ME
This beer is close to my heart, as I grew up heading to the Maine coast for vacation in the summertime. This beer was always the choice Summer Ale (along with Shipyard summer) to chill with. The beer has great citrus flavor and aroma – though not strong enough to overpower the hops, which are subtle but there. This isn’t a totally light summer beer, but very refreshing on a hot day. ABV: 6%
Food Pairing: If you happen to find yourself in Maine in the summer, grab a 6-pack, a few lobsters and cook them in ocean water from the beach (if available) and you’ll satisfy your soul.
6. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE
Beers #6, 5 and 3 are the best IPA’s that I believe are being produced in our country today. I’m going to start the lineup with a beer from a truly great brewery: Dogfish Head. To be honest, I have always drank more of their 60 Minute IPA and Raison D’Etre brews, which are both more widely available than the 90 Minute. This brew is citrus in the nose with a heavy malt taste and clean finish…definitely enjoy it from a glass. It’s less hoppy than your typical “Imperial IPA”. The alcohol content is up there, likely the reason for it being sold in the unique 4-packs. If you can find this beer locally, pick some up – it’s a treat. ABV: 9%
Food Pairing: Spicy pork chops with ancho chili sauce
5. Bridgeport India Pale Ale Bridgeport Brewing Company, Portland, OR
Our buddy Walters turned me onto this beer when he was working at the brewpub up in Portland, OR. I had always wanted to try it and then finally discovered it in a Safeway (of all places) in Oakland, CA. This is a truly great IPA. Lots of hoppiness, but incredibly well balanced at the same time. The taste packs lemon and citrus, with that perfect sort of clean malt aftertaste. This beer is great on any occasion, plus the bottles are sweet. ABV: 5.5%
Food Pairing: Cedar plank roasted wild northwest salmon
4. Mirror Pond Pale Ale Deschutes Brewing Company, Bend, OR
Mirror Pond falls at #3, and this was a tough call. Initially this was my favorite beer on the west coast, and it’s one of the most unique labels in the beer store and really jumps out at you. Trying Mirror Pond for the first time is like a dream come true. It’s so smooth you almost think it’s not even a beer at all. It pours a beautiful dark amber color that just looks like someone knew what they were doing. Its hop and bitterness levels aren’t that intense, but are still there to be enjoyed. Deschutes is the only brewery to have 2 beers make my top 20, and if you’re ever in Bend, OR, go to the brewery but get there early, it’s always packed. ABV: 5%
Food Pairing: Love this beer with Sushi
3. Racer 5 IPA Bear Republic Brewing Company, Healdsburg, CA
Ok, top 3 time. Racer 5 sits at the top of the beer chain that has been started in the little brewery hotbed around the Santa Rosa, CA area. This brew is awesome – great hoppiness, a little bitterness, but also some fruit and floral notes. Pours a great deep golden color (like the NorCal hills in the summertime) that is just so inviting. This brew will not disappoint, it will only grow on you over time. The alcohol content is a little high, but you definitely cannot taste it. This is the best American IPA I’ve ever had. ABV: 7%
Food Pairing: Risotto with Barolo or Saffron or something big.
2. Rogue Dead Guy Ale Rogue Ale’s Brewery, Newport, OR
Rogue Dead Guy is here because it’s my favorite of the Rogue Ales. It’s also the stain of Rogue that you’re most likely able to find in your area (if you’re lucky). But this is tough because Rogue produces what seems like 150 different types of beer and most of them are really good. Dead Guy is so simple and so easy to drink – it’s fairly sweet in the nose, with a hint of malt. The taste is a little toasty and a little citrus, but very clean all around. The color of this beer is perhaps its most impressive quality – it’s almost what I’d call a bright orange, it literally shines in the glass. If I can find Dead Guy, I’m usually buying it. Tough call here at #2. ABV: 6.5%
Food Pairing: Great pub brew to grab with a burger that you know is going to be good.
1. Ipswich Original Ale Mercury Brewing Company, Ipswich, MA
That’s right, my number 1 beer is Ipswich Original Ale from Mercury Brewing – in my opinion the best all around beer in America. There are simply no flaws with this beer at all. If you were to pour this beer to someone who doesn’t even like beer, they would be hard to argue that this isn’t a thoughtful and well constructed beverage. It pours that classic bright amber color, with a great white head. It’s flavors are perfectly balanced, a little bitterness, but incredibly easy to drink. It’s smoothness is something that I really value and look for in a beer. It’s alcohol content isn’t overwhelming (which is good so you can enjoy more than one). If you can find Ipswich Ale in your area, I (obviously) highly recommend it – it won’t disappoint.
Food Pairing: Mussels, clams, other shellfish – or just on its own. ABV: 5.4%
So this concludes this years list of the top 20 beers. If you have any comments or questions, please don’t hesitate to leave them below. Cheers!
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