The results are in for this year’s RateBeer Bests. Based on almost 2.5million rates from last year, they show the highest ranked beers overall and then they are broken down in terms of style and place. Here are the lists.
In the Top 100 overall there is just one British beer, Old Chimney’s King Henry’s Special Reserve. It deserves to be there as it’s fantastic, but there are so many other great beers deserving of being in there too; it’s a little saddening to only find the solitary British entry. The UK list is interesting though and it’s great to see Thornbridge feature so well (13 of the Top 50 UK beers) and having Marble’s Dobber at number 5 is great. Punk IPA beats Jaipur by two places, which is an argument in itself, and there’s a spot for Gadds’ Black Pearl at 46. The list does lean towards big and strong with not many session beers making the top 50, which is a shame as that’s what our beer history is based around. What compounds this misery is that the Top 5 English Style Pale and Bitter is made up of four US beers and BrewDog’s How To Disappear Completely. Go figure.
The Best Bars list throws up a surprise to me: the Wellington in Birmingham being the 15th highest rated yet I hadn’t heard of it before this. The next highest UK pub is The Wenlock Arms, which truthfully, I think is a bit shit, unwelcoming and rough. The highest British breweries are Harviestoun, BrewDog and Sam Smith, followed by Thornbridge, which is a reflection on exported and ‘spoken about’ beers. Seeing Thornbridge there, as they hardly export, is a better indicator of the top British breweries as rated from ‘the inside’. Beermerchants make the Top 20 retailers in the world and that’s very cool and I think it reflects the ongoing determination to bring in different and interesting beers from around the world.
Whether you like or dislike rating sites and whether you trust them or not, it still reflects an interesting segment of drinkers and what was enjoyed, en mass, over the last year. The top beers have almost self-sustaining reputations, but to stay high up they still need to be damn good when it comes down to the taste experience (although rarity and hype do play a big part in the experience). For me, as it’s a collective opinion, it's largely a guide as to what geeky beer drinkers (you need to be a geek to want to rate – rating is hard work and takes real dedication!) like to find in their pint glass. It's not a list of the best beers to drink in a pub on a Sunday afternoon, it's a list of some of the most esoteric flavour experiences possible, dominated by imperial stouts, barrel aging, IPAs and sours.
What do you think about the lists? Anything else interesting in these lists? Do you trust them or not? Does it make you want to go out and find as many of these beers as possible and drink them? It certainly makes me want them a little bit more.
What this has also done is give me a ready-made list of beers to look for when I am in the US, because, yes, I do care about hyped-up beers, big beers and celebrated beers. I’m fickle like that. I’ve currently had 17 of the Top 100 and that’s just not good enough.