Craft Beer

The best beer in America is... well, it’s not from San Diego County

Midwest transplants rejoice
Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, perhaps one of the best beers in the world, is finally available in Los Angeles.
(Julie Verive)

Readers’ polls are only as interesting as the readers being polled. That makes Zymurgy magazine’s 16th annual “Best Beers in America,” released last week, notable. The poll is open to members of the American Homebrewers Association, a group that appreciates good beer.

Even if they don’t appreciate San Diego beers.

The best beer is the U.S., according to this poll? Two-Hearted Ale, an IPA from Michigan-based Bell’s.

Among the top 10 beers, Northern California breweries scored twice — Russian River’s Pliny the Elder finished second, while Sierra Nevada Pale ale landed in fifth place, tied with two from Michigan’s Founders, Canadian Breakfast Stout and Kentucky Breakfast Stout.


San Diego, though, didn’t crack the list until number 25, Sculpin, followed by Arrogant Bastard Ale (34th) and Grapefruit Sculpin (49th).

Grapefruit Sculpin from Ballast Point will be served at this years San Diego County Fair.
May 20, 2015_San Diego, CA_USA_ | Grapefruit Sculpin from Ballast Point will be served at this years San Diego County Fair. | Photo by K.C. Alfred/UT San Diego/Copyright 2015
(K.C. Alfred / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Escondido-based Stone was ranked eighth among the top 10 breweries (Bell’s led this list, too), and was first among “Top-Ranked Beer Portfolios,” with homebrewers citing 33 separate Stone beers, including the aforementioned Bastard..

The complete lists are at You’ll see that Ballast Point is listed as the nation’s 18th best brewery.


You’ll also see that, in American homebrewers’ minds and mugs, there’s no single “capital of craft.” They’re raving about beers from Vermont, Iowa, Florida, Oregon and dozens of points between — and that’s interesting.

Read more from Peter Rowe’s weekly column here.

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