And Draft Magazine’s Top 25 Beers of 2010 Are…

That’s much better!


…not the ones I’d pick.  And that’s the whole point, right?

Let me back up here a bit.  DRAFT Magazine has released its list of the 25 top beers of 2010. There are some very good beers that made the list, some great beers that are missing and…whatever.  I give them all the credit in the world for putting together a list like this – I’m sure they agonized over it – but does it really matter what they think? 

In the end, not so much.  I have come to the conclusion that lists like this are only good for one thing – turning me on to a good beer I might have overlooked. Other than that, they are mostly useless.

Why?  Because as a fellow blogger once said, beauty is in the eye of the beerholder.  It only matters what YOU like and no one else.  And how does DRAFT know what YOU like?

Here’s what I find myself doing when I read the list.  When I see a beer on there that I think doesn’t belong (or is hogging a spot that could be held by a beer I like better), I scoff at DRAFT’s poor judgment.  When I see a beer I like, I commend myself for my excellent taste.  And when I see a beer that sounds interesting, I make a mental note to check it out later.

So beyond turning me on to something new, lists like this don’t do a lot for me.  It’s not like I’m going to reignite my love for Belgian tripels just because Westmalle made the list (even if they make it sound really, really tasty).

That said, I give them credit for doing this the best way it can be done.  First off, it’s done bucket-style, lumping all the beers together without feeling the need to rank them 1 through 25.  Thank you, DRAFT – rankings make me nuts.  Also, each beer has a nice blurb attached to it, telling what makes it special and describing the flavor.  This adds context and allows me to decide if I’d like to try it someday.  That’s essential to making a list like this useful at all.  And the beers are well chosen by folks who obviously know and love good beer.

So good for the crew over at DRAFT.  I love their information, but have come to the conclusion that personal taste in beer is a very individual thing, which makes their opinions is largely irrelevant.

Of course if they called this “25 Beers You Should Try from 2010” no one would read it, so they almost have to play the “Top 25” card.  Doing so elicits a much better response, creates debate on message boards, generates word of mouth, provides fodder for blogs (ahem) and drives more traffic to their site.

Still, it’s not the Top 25 I would have chosen.  What are my TOP 25 you ask?  Irrelevant, I say.  Totally irrelevant.

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69 Comments on “And Draft Magazine’s Top 25 Beers of 2010 Are…”

  1. Greg K.
    November 30, 2010 at 10:06 am #

    Reading that list just makes me excited for Monk’s Blood to hit shelves in December. God I love that beer

    • November 30, 2010 at 10:36 am #

      I loved it the first time I tried it, then was disappointed the second time.

      I think I was shocked that such a complex beer came from a can when I first had it, and then had built it up so much that it couldn’t match what I had in my head the second time I had it.

      So with my expectations properly aligned, it should be just fine the third time. Hopefully I’ll find out soon.

      • Greg K.
        November 30, 2010 at 11:47 am #

        It’s only gotten better with age too. Had my last one in October. Going through a bit of a withdrawal. It’s supposed to be a December release. Much like Fireside Chat, I’m assuming Boonton will be the first place to get it. Very much looking forward to it.

        • November 30, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

          There’s also a great place in Totowa across from the Home Depot called the Wine & Beverage Depot that has a great selection. Sometimes they have stuff that Liquor Outlet does not.

        • Greg K.
          November 30, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

          Yeah, when I go out for a beer run I usually hit those two stores and the Rutherford Wine Shoppe. And occassionally Stew Leonards…and Oak Tree…I have a problem

        • November 30, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

          Yeah you have a problem – you need a bigger car!!

  2. November 30, 2010 at 10:23 am #

    Hmmm… if we can’t coerce a top 25 out of you, how about a “25 Beers from 2010 You Should Try”?

    • November 30, 2010 at 10:37 am #

      I’m not sure I can come up with 25 barrel aged Imperial Stouts. 🙂

      • November 30, 2010 at 11:21 am #

        I’ll help you get a start on your 2011 list:

        • November 30, 2010 at 12:17 pm #

          Ha! I’m doing a post on that tomorrow! Spoiler alert!!

  3. Rob Crozier
    November 30, 2010 at 12:07 pm #

    Don’t care for the lists either but I do use them for reference for ideas and or to check if I’m the know on what’s going on in the beer world. I did get to try the Yorkshire Stingo and it was definitely one my favorites of this year.

    • November 30, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

      There are more than a couple that I’d love to try, so it’s a nice resource. I just take umbrage to using the word “Best” is all.

      I also hate that I can’t get everything on the list in NJ!!

  4. David
    November 30, 2010 at 12:19 pm #

    I’m with you on lists, although I would more annoyed if this list read “the best beers in the world” or something of the like. It seems like the sole purpose of this list is to introduce folks to some beers that the magazine has enjoyed this year. But what beer afficinado has not had Duvel by now?

    • November 30, 2010 at 12:26 pm #

      I agree with the intent behind the list, which is why I didn’t really trash it. I hate the concept of “best” lists, but this is actually a useful and low key one.

      And I agree about Duvel. I’d kick it off the list and replace it with Schlafly’s 2008 Reserve Imperial Stout or another new goodie. Something that is new, not tried and true. But I guess that’d be the “Top 25 NEW Beers of 2010.”

      And I also just realized there’s no pleasing me! 🙂

  5. Clayton
    November 30, 2010 at 1:17 pm #

    I just had that Guava Grove last week in Florida. It was pretty good, but very “champaigny”… also had another Bitch’s Brew which is very enjoyable.

    this is a very interesting list!!!

    wish I could get my hands on the Angel’s Share Grand Cru…

    • Don
      November 30, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

      Just beg Rick to pick you one up next time he heads to CA. Or better yet…take a road trip!

      • Clayton
        November 30, 2010 at 4:35 pm #

        I’m pretty sure that beer is near impossible to find anywhere… it was very limited.

  6. Don
    November 30, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

    Interesting, the one thing I just noticed about this list is that with all the noise sour beers seem to be making this year there is only one beer that is brewed with Brett. I find this a refreshing turn of events, as most sours aren’t particularly good, and I think for a while people put brett in something and hishaw…it was embraced by beer nerds everywhere as being part of a second coming! I’m not saying there aren’t sour beers that are good, or deserving, but I think some are bad and people say they are good because they are different. So it is interesting to see a very limited amount of brett made beers on this list.

    • November 30, 2010 at 2:34 pm #

      Yeah, there is very little hipness or hype on the list, just good beers. It’s a good collection of beers to try.

  7. November 30, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    These lists are sort of pointless when they mention beers that have been out for a while. Duvel? Really? I prefer the lists of beers that are new this year. Still, it’s a nice reference point. I see things I’ve had and things I want to drink. So, it lends a bit of credence to my tastes, but in the end I’ll go with what I like.

    BTW-Bitches Brew was OK and Stingo is nice but I don’t know that it’s worth the price. (Rhyme not intended.) Also, I get trying to cover a wide array of styles and regions, but Goose Island does better beers than 312.

    • November 30, 2010 at 4:57 pm #

      I was thinking Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee Brand Stout deserved to make the list – it was a standout at GABF. What a great beer.

      • November 30, 2010 at 5:03 pm #

        Agreed. That was maybe one of the best two or three pleasant surprises I’ve had this year. Sure, I love the entire BCS “franchise”, but Bourbon County Coffee Brand Stout is just so good. Clearly, that beer deserved a spot on the list over 312. Plus, we’re not even mentioning all the great Belgian styles GI does.

        • November 30, 2010 at 6:01 pm #

          I’m not mentioning those because I haven’t had them. I guess Chicago hates the greater NYC are, because I get no Goose out here!

        • December 1, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

          Ha Ha!!!

        • December 1, 2010 at 9:17 pm #

          Thanks, John. I appreciate that. 😦

        • December 1, 2010 at 10:46 pm #

          It’s payback for the false claim that NY style pizza is better than Chicago style.

          /pizza zing

        • December 1, 2010 at 10:50 pm #

          False? 😉

        • Don
          December 1, 2010 at 10:53 pm #

          BTW Check your garage beer store! I sent you an ’09 Matilda!

      • Dave
        November 30, 2010 at 6:00 pm #

        312 on this list only confirms your original premise as far as I’m concerned, Jim. Who knows what your individual likes and dislikes are going to be? I’m partial to wheat beers and have tried more than I can count, but I just don’t see what the fuss is about 312. It’s one of the few wheats I don’t like. I can’t put my finger on the reason why. Something always seems off about it to me. But Goose more than makes up for it with their other offerings. The lines for the release of Bourbon County Rare have been pretty long at the area liquor stores that have it.

        • November 30, 2010 at 6:04 pm #

          Agreed, but overall, it’s a pretty well-informed and well chosen list of beers. No real clunkers or ones picked for pure snob status, which is good.

        • Don
          November 30, 2010 at 6:22 pm #

          Now I know I’m going to get blasted for this but here goes. I think they missed the boat by not including Pliny the Elder on this list. I know it isn’t new, but given the fact that probably only 5% (Number pulled from thin air) of craft beer drinkers have ever tasted it I think its scarcity should get it over the newness hurdle. Also i know Jim thought it was overrated, but I think it is a damn fine DIPA and I know there are thousands out there that agree with me. I think this list was tryint too hard to not be like the “Other” lists so they didn’t put it on there. “See were different…no Pliny…that makes us unique and better.” Again I’m not saying this is a bad list, but whenever anyone puts one together you could sit here all day and pick it apart, so that’s what I’m doin’.

        • November 30, 2010 at 6:24 pm #

          Blast!! *pew-pew* Boom!!

        • Don
          November 30, 2010 at 6:25 pm #

          Yeah…I thought you would lead the charge little Bro.

        • November 30, 2010 at 6:25 pm #

          I don’t know. Pliny is so 2009. Seriously, I think Pliny is a great beer, but I’m not sure it’s as good as its hype makes it out to be. I may even prefer Hopslam or Lake Erie Monster to Pliny.

        • Don
          November 30, 2010 at 6:30 pm #

          I think it would be great to do a blind side by side with Pliny and a couple others to see where it stacks up. I think it would be right up at the top. I’ve had some great DIPAs including one of Jim’s favorites Maharaja, and While they are very very good, I think Pliny with its understated subtlety really is a better crafted beer. Now go ahead…shoot away.

        • November 30, 2010 at 6:35 pm #

          Our beer club did a blind DIPA tasting and Pliny was smuggled in. I wasn’t able to make that tasting and don’t remember how it did. I’ll report back soon…

        • Don
          November 30, 2010 at 6:36 pm #

          Sounds great, but if I wasn’t there I’m sure the outcome is wrong…unless it says what I want it to 😉

      • December 3, 2010 at 12:39 am #

        Sorry, I forgot to return with those results. Pliny did make an appearance at our blind tasting. The results were: DFH 90min (1), Moylans Hopsickle (2), Hopfrog Mean Manalishi (3), Pliny (4), Stone Ruination (5). At the time, none of those beers were available here in Missouri. Now, we can get Moylans, some Hopfrog, and Stone comes next year. Still, it’s interesting that Pliny came in 4th.

        • December 3, 2010 at 12:48 am #

          Like you said Zac, it’s so 2009. I think Pliny set a standard that others have exceeded.

  8. Alex
    November 30, 2010 at 6:17 pm #

    As far as lists go, that one isn’t bad at all. I’m surprised to see Saboteur on there. I like it, but the guys at Falling Rock Tap House in Denver couldn’t give the stuff away. Most people I have talked to about Saboteur really hate it, almost with a passion. Since I tend to like almost every beer from Odell, I thought I might be letting my bias get in the way. Now I feel kind of vindicated.

    Of the beers on the list that I’ve tried, I would agree with their assessment. Lots of beers to put on the wish list too. I’ve heard great things about Cigar City and 21st Amendment.

    • November 30, 2010 at 6:19 pm #

      Cigar City freaks me out because of the name. Something about drinking from a dirty ashtray always pops into my head. I’m sure a taste of their beer would cure that, but it’s a hard get in NJ.

      • November 30, 2010 at 6:22 pm #

        I’m with you on the Cigar City. I’ve had a couple of their beers that were good, but I think they’re all hype at this point.

    • November 30, 2010 at 6:21 pm #

      That’s funny. Saboteur was one of my top-five beers of the year. It was like a La Folie only with balance and drinkability. I really loved that beer.

      • November 30, 2010 at 6:25 pm #

        I agree LaFolie lacked drinkablity. That’s why I wound up pouring it out.

        • November 30, 2010 at 6:27 pm #

          That’s right. You did write that post. That’s a sharing beer and not because of the ABV. I love La Folie, but I have to be in the right frame of mind or suffering from hop mouth.

      • Alex
        November 30, 2010 at 6:31 pm #

        I really like La Folie as well, but I agree with your assessment. Maybe Saboteur wasn’t “extreme” enough for the beer geeks in my circle. I think a lot of us got spoiled by last year’s Sour Fest at Avery.

        • November 30, 2010 at 6:33 pm #

          Color me jealous.

        • Don
          November 30, 2010 at 6:35 pm #

          Avery made the best sour I’ve ever had. Jim and I both had it at the rare beer tasting at GABF. It was named something like quintaphobia. I know that is wrong, but I’m pretty sure on the first 4 letters. Can’t imagine that there are many sour Avery beers that have the first four letters q.u.i.n. It was very good. Well balanced and very drinkable.

        • Alex
          November 30, 2010 at 6:43 pm #

          I think you’re referring to Quinquepartite. And yeah, I think it’s awesome too. My favorite is probably Dupuceleuse, which is the French word for a woman who deflowers a man and is made with a ridiculous amount of sour cherries. 🙂

        • November 30, 2010 at 6:52 pm #

          Dupuceleuse – I love it! The French have the best words, not to mention a cool culture that breeds the need for creating shorthand for such concepts.

          I guess we have it, too, but “slut” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

        • Don
          November 30, 2010 at 6:54 pm #

          We have a winner! That was the beer Alex. Jim and I agreed it was the best sour we tried over the entire fest. Of course neither of us went out of our way to try a bunch of sours, because we really don’t like them 😉

  9. Greg K.
    December 1, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

    Draft just posted their Top 12 Breweries to Watch in 2011

    We get some of them in NJ. I’ve had Uinta’s Crooked Line Barrel Aged Barleywine and Double IPA. Neither offering really blew me away. I love Pretty Things. They’re doing some really great beers right now. Stillwater is also exceptional. And although I haven’t been able to try either I have heard great things about Devil’s Backbone and Evolution.

    • December 1, 2010 at 1:25 pm #

      I heard about the list but haven’t seen it yet. Thanks for the link. Maybe I can complain about this one, too. 🙂

    • Alex
      December 1, 2010 at 2:18 pm #

      Thanks for the link, Greg. I’d love to get my hands on some Pretty Things. Wait . . . that didn’t come out right. I recently tried Uinta’s Crooked Line Labyrinth black ale, having never heard of them, and bought the bottle based on its cool label. I was really impressed and I’m eager to try more of their stuff.

    • Don
      December 1, 2010 at 4:10 pm #

      You need to look for Uinta’s Labyrinth. It is a licorice infused stout, and they cannot keep it on the shelves here in Idaho. As soon as they make it it sells out. Great stuff, so I am told, as I haven’t come across any to be able to try it.

      • Greg K.
        December 1, 2010 at 4:15 pm #

        Interesting. I’ll definitely be on the lookout. It’s funny. I haven’t seen Uinta at any of the bottle shops that I normally go to, but I was in the Shoprite Liquors by my house and there are just bottles upon bottles of it there. Only the BA Barleywine, Double IPA, and Black IPA though

        • December 1, 2010 at 4:57 pm #

          Is that the one in Oakland?!!

        • Greg K.
          December 1, 2010 at 5:02 pm #


        • December 1, 2010 at 5:03 pm #


      • December 1, 2010 at 4:56 pm #

        I’m impressed that they can GET it on the shelves in Idaho!

  10. December 1, 2010 at 9:07 pm #

    The list everyone wants is the 2010 Top 25 beers you can’t buy in Idaho!

    • Don
      December 1, 2010 at 9:13 pm #

      Thanks John! I think on the top of the list would be Bourbon County Rare! 😉

    • December 1, 2010 at 9:18 pm #

      Just click on the link in the post above. It’s probably pretty accurate!

      • Don
        December 1, 2010 at 9:19 pm #

        I can get a lot of those beers. Is a matter of fact I believe there are beers on that list that I can get and you cannot…so there! 😛

  11. Bryce
    December 2, 2010 at 4:48 am #

    To echo other posters, do not get the inclusion of 312 on the list. I lived in Chicago 2008-9, and the bars seemed to be flooded with 312, always seemed to be on special. I remember it as a bland, generic American wheat beer.

    • December 2, 2010 at 8:28 am #

      I’m not a fan of wheats, so having a wheater (good or great) on the list wouldn’t happen on my watch.

  12. Alex
    December 3, 2010 at 3:36 pm #

    Here is yet another Top 25 beer list from Wine Enthusiast Magazine:

    Some of my favorites are on here, along with several for the wish list. Good distribution among styles and regions, although they list Victory as being based in Vermont! Honest mistake, or does this invalidate their whole list?

    • December 3, 2010 at 4:21 pm #

      There’s a lot of goodies on the list, so no sweat that they screwed up Victory’s location (although folks in Downingtown might be pissed).

      The fact that they actually ranked them numerically is a whole other topic!


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