Men’s Journal Needs New Beer Writers

Anger can be a powerful driving motivator.  Anger has brought me back to my blog after a more than year-long hiatus.

I had become increasingly livid as I drove home from the day job.  Almost a week later, I am still seething. I had come across an article that Men’s Journal had published titled, “The 25 Best Beers in the World – Expert Advice”.   I thought this was an interesting title.  Given the vast number of beers around the globe and the numerous styles of the eminently delectable beverage, what could the criteria for such an article include in order to slim the vast choices to a meager twenty-five?  Given that this could be such a subjective list I had expected some qualifiers.  Instead, I was treated to this: “So for our beer survey, we asked craft-brew luminaries a simple question: What’s the best beer in the world?  Then we tried them all.  The result? A been-there, drank-that guide to the greatest brews on the planet, in no particular order.

This should have been my first clue to the atrocity I was about to witness.  I shared this list on Facebook with a few of my fellow beer geeks and we speculated on how such a disaster could have been created.  Unless you are Michael Jackson or someone of that ilk, definitively stating that you can quantify the greatest beers on the Earth by opinion alone should inevitably lead to a lesson in the dangers of hubris.  Without further ado, here is Men’s Journal’s list:

Jolly Pumpkin Oro se Calabaza
Mikkeller Simcoe Single-hop IPA
Saison Dupont
Hells Schlenkerla
Schneider Aventinus
Sinebrychoff Porter
Hitacho Nest Beer
Kostritzer Schwarzbier
Ninkasi Total Domination IPA
Samuel Adams Nobel Pils
Brasserie de la Senne
Allagash Curieux
Dieu du Ciel!
Russian River Supplication
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
Peak Organic Pale Ale
Amendment Back in Black IPA
Sierra Nevada Kellerweis
Hopworks Urban Brewery Organic Lager
Sly Fox Pikeland Pils
Olympia Beer
Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout
Are there good beers on this list? Absolutely.  Pliny the Elder is certainly a great beer (and overrated – it is possible to be both) and is generally considered to be an exceptional double IPA.  However, this isn’t even the best beer that Russian River makes and that is the travesty of this list.  Out there, somewhere, is some poor soul who is aspiring to rise above the swill of the macrobrewery world and has been duped into believing that this list is the definitive guide to beers of the world.  There are breweries that do not belong on this list: 21st Amendment – I love their Fireside Chat Ale, but a top brewer?  No.  Samuel Smith’s Brewery makes a fine product.  Early in my pursuit of fine beers, I came across their Oatmeal Stout and it still holds a special spot on my palate, but they also do not belong on this list.  Samuel Adams.  No.  I and every other beer lover greatly appreciate what Jim Koch has done to improve the American Beer scene, but absolutely and unequivocally no.  There isn’t a beer produced by Sam Adams that is close to one of the best beers in the world.  Moreover, when the definition of a craft brewery needs to be changed so Boston Beer Company can stay in the club, it is past time to examine their true nature in the brewing world.  However, I digress; that is for another day.

As I raged to Red that evening, I stated that I could come up with a list of 25 beers that are easily better than the beers on this list.  I immediately recognized the folly of my words: she was going to hold me to it and I am now poised to fall on the same sharp sword of hubris that should be wielded to excoriate the writers at Men’s Journal.  Nevertheless, a great injustice has been set forth upon the world.  Someone must be brave enough to right these wrongs.

In no particular order, I submit my list of 25 beers that are better than the 25 beers posited by Men’s Journal.

Goose Island: Bourbon County Stout
Dogfish Head: 120 Minute IPA
Stone: Arrogant Bastard Ale
Russian River: Pliny the Younger
Tröegs Brewing: Nugget Nectar
Brouwerij Westvleteren: Trappist Westvleteren 8
Brouwerij Girardin: Gueze Girardin
Firestone Walker Brewing Co: Firestone XV – Anniversary Ale
Founders: Backswood Bastard
Aecht Schlenkerla: Rauchbier Urbock
Southern Tier Brewing Company: Choklat
Three Floyds Brewing Co: Lord Admiral Nelson
Boulevard Brewing Co: Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale
Founders: Kentucky Breakfast Stout
Deschutes Brewery: The Abyss
Bell’s Brewing: Two Hearted Ale
Ommegang: Hennepin
Brouwerij Het Anker: Cuvée Van De Keizer Blauw
Uerige: Doppelsticke
Lagunitas: A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’
Great Divide: Old Ruffian Barley Wine
Bear Republic: Hop Head Rye
Brasserie Cantillon: Cantillon Gueuze 100% Lambic
Avery: Mephistopheles’ Stout
Hanssens Artisanaal: Oude Kriek
I can hear the clamor now.  There are a number of styles that I have not touched upon and I concede that very notable point.  However, that was not the point of this exercise; in fact, it touches upon a more important point.  Using only a handful of styles I am able to comprise a more quaffable compilation than some “craft-brew luminaries”.

Could a better list be comprised? Possibly and probably.  There are beers from other brewers, like The Bruery, that I am loathe to leave off this list.  In Portland, there are countless breweries and nanobreweries that may be (and are) making outstanding beer, but do not have the capacity or even the desire to ship to the East Coast.  This is to say nothing of the over 1,300 breweries in Germany.  One person alone can barely scratch the surface of the greatest beers no matter how you qualify a list.

I suppose in the end that is the point.  To dig deeply, you need to start with just a scratch, but some scratches are deeper than others.


~ by its12oclocksomewhere on July 23, 2012.

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