Unofficial Beer | The Top Ten U.S. Craft Beers of 2011

Unofficial Beer | The Top Ten U.S. Craft Beers of 2011


Unofficial Beer | The Top Ten U.S. Craft Beers of 2011


I’m not one to qualify your typical “best of” lists that flood the media at the end of the year as the “end all, be all” deciding factor…but I think this list compiled by RateBeer is definitely one to consider.

RateBeer is widely recognized as the most accurate and most-visited source for beer information. RateBeer is an independent world site for craft beer enthusiasts and is dedicated to serving the entire craft beer community through beer education, promotion and outreach. It was founded in 2000 as a forum for beer lovers to share opinions on beer and breweries from all over the world.

So, without further ado, the Top Ten U.S. Beers of 2011…

10. Cigar City Brandy Barrel Aged Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout   Cigar City Brewing Co., Tampa, FL

An Imperial Stout Aged On Cacao Nibs, Madagascar Vanilla Beans, Ancho Chilis, Pasilla Chilis and Cinnamon. 11.0% ABV / 80 IBUs

9. Bells Hopslam Bells Brewery, Kalamazoo, MI

Starting with six different hop varietals added to the brew kettle & culminating with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops, Bell’s Hopslam Ale possesses the most complex hopping schedule in the Bell’s repetoire. Selected specifically because of their aromatic qualities, these Pacific Northwest varieties contribute a pungent blend of grapefruit, stone fruit, and floral notes. A generous malt bill and a solid dollop of honey provide just enough body to keep the balance in check, resulting in a remarkably drinkable rendition of the Double India Pale Ale style.



8. AleSmith Barrel Aged Speedway Stout Alesmith Brewing Co., San Diego, CA

 Our special-edition Brewer’s Reserve Speedway Stout, which is aged in Bourbon barrels, has been rated the #1 BEST BEER IN THE WORLD at It was also featured on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” in a segment on the best dark beers in America.

7. Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, MI

An imperial stout brewed with a massive amount of coffee and chocolates, then cave-aged in oak bourbon barrels for an entire year to make sure wonderful bourbon undertones come through in the finish. Makes your taste buds squeal with delight. 11.2 % ABV / 70 IBUs

6. Russian River Pliny the Elder Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, CA

Pliny the Elder was a Roman naturalist, scholar, historian, traveler, officer, and writer. Although not considered his most important work, Pliny and his contemporaries created the botanical name for hops, “Lupus salictarius”, meaning wolf among scrubs.” Hops at that time grew wild among willows, much like a wolf in the forest. Later the current botanical name, Humulus lupulus, was adopted. Pliny died in 79 AD while observing the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. He was immortalized by his nephew, Pliny the Younger, who continued his uncle’s legacy by documenting much of what he observed during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. 8.0% ABV / 100 IBUs

5. Three Floyds Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout Munster, IN

A demonic Russian Style Imperial Stout, brewed with Intelligensia coffee, Mexican vanilla, and Indian sugar. This beer defies description, available one day a year in April at the brewery, Dark Lord Day.  15% ABV

4. AleSmith Speedway Stout Alesmith Brewing Co., San Diego, CA

Jet Black, with an off-white head. Starts with a strong coffee and dark chocolate sensation, then fades to a multitude of toasty, roasty and caramel malt flavors. Clean and crisp, full- bodied. Warmth from the high alcohol content lightens up the feel. You won’t fool your taste buds – this beer is HUGE! 12% ABV

3. Goose Island Rare Bourbon County Stout Goose Island Beer Company, Chicago, IL

Brewed in honor of the 1000th batch at our original Clybourn brewpub. A liquid as dark and dense as a black hole with thick foam the color of a bourbon barrel. The nose is an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke. One sip has more flavor than your average case of beer. 13% ABV / 60 IBUs

2. Cigar City Zhukov’s Final Push Cigar City Brewing Co., Tampa, FL

This Russian Imperial Stout is dedicated to Georgy Zhukov, arguably one of the finest generals of World War II. Opaque black in color, with notes of espresso, chocolate, dark toffee and hints of backstrap molasses. The English hop varietals provide a subtle herbal dryness, and finishes with a hearty slap of roasty espresso. Pair Marshal Zhukov’s with Mushroom Solyanka, dark chocolate, cherries and ground wars in Russia.  11% ABV / 80 IBUs

1. Russian River Pliny the Younger Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, CA

Pliny the Younger was Pliny the Elder’s nephew, in the case of this beer, the “Younger” is a triple IPA. Pliny the Younger is hopped three times more than our standard IPA, and is dry hopped four different times. 11% ABV / ‘Gobs’ of IBUs

So that’s it. RateBeer’s Top Ten US Beers.  Russian River, Alesmith Brewing, and Cigar City all getting multiple mentions. 7 Imperial Stouts and 3 big IPAs…not very diverse in terms of style. Definitely try to get your hands on some soon.  I was lucky enough to try the Pliny The Younger in San Francisco last winter.  It’s only available on draft so keep your eyes out this February…




































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