Zymurgy Magazine released its annual survey of America’s best beers and the big news was Pliny the Elder did not top the list for the first time in eight years. That honor belongs to Two Hearted Ale, an IPA from Bell’s Brewery in Michigan.
Not that the distinction matters all that much for local craft beer lovers, who apart from making a four-plus hour drive to Russian River Brewing Company, or lucking into a beer trade, will find both brews hard to come by.
However, locals might find it worth noting that Central Coast’s Firestone Walker Brewing Co. had two brews rank on this year’s list though neither of them are the popular 805. The brewery’s Double Jack imperial IPA was ranked 27th (in a tie with Russian River’s infamous Pliny the Younger and others) and the Union Jack tied for No. 47.
Firestone Walker itself ranked No. 6 in the best brewery category (sandwiched between Stone Brewing and Deschutes out of Oregon). It was in the top three for best portfolio of beer, with a total of 25 brews. Duvel, the Belgium company that acquired Firestone Walker in 2015, ranked No. 2 in the best import category.
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The annual rankings follow the announcement of Firestone Walker’s $8 million expansion of the brewery in Paso Robles.