Fifty Best Beers
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Beer has been consumed worldwide in some form or another since the early Neolithic Period, around 9500 B.C., when cereal grains began to be cultivated on farms. Many archaeologists and historians consider beer to be a pivotal influence in the formation of stable civilizations. Texts from both Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt mention beer and display beer-making practices in pictures, artwork and hieroglyphs. In ancient Sumeria there is major evidence of the discovery of fermentable grains in the “Hymn to Ninkasi”, a poem dedicated to the Goddess of Brewing, including an instructional verse on brewing.

The consumption of beer spread through Europe from Germanic and Celtic tribes dating back to 3000 B.C. With the rise of Christianity, beer drinking and brewing increased immensely due in part to the monks and monasteries which utilized the beers for their livelihood, as well as to support pilgrims and travelers in need. Beer was the most consumed beverage in medieval times since it was usually healthier than drinking water from a well. Flavoring beer with hops did not become popular until sometime in the 9th century. The first use of hops and its perfection were developed by the beer drinking nations of Belgium and Germany.

By the 14th and 15th centuries, beers began to be brewed less in a domestic setting but at a larger scale for mass consumption. In 1516, William IV, Duke of Bavaria, put into effect the Reinheitsgebot, also known as the “German Purity Laws”. These laws required that beer must be made using only malted barley, water and hops (later yeast was added after its discovery in 1857).


Beer mugs


The Industrial Revolution and the technology that followed afforded beer to be produced at a greater volume and with much improved quality control than ever before. The development of lager strains from cold storage of beer in caves gave way to large refrigeration units with thermometers and hydrometers, enabling the production of higher quality products. Pilsner style lager beers quickly became the top selling beers worldwide by a large margin, and the global commercialization of beer was underway.

Today the beer industry is dominated by a handful of large macro brand corporations that represent more than 95% percent of beer sales worldwide, generating over $100 billion dollars in the U.S. alone. Prior to Prohibition, the U.S. was the home to thousands of breweries. When prohibition was repealed, advertising was a driving market force in beer production, so consumption and commercial lagers rose to the forefront. The craft beer movement in the United States has been in a steady climb since the 1980’s. Renewed ingenuity and fierce competition amongst a growing number of small craft breweries that is estimated at over 1,700 in the U.S., has Europe and the world once again turning towards America for inspiration.

The increasing popularity of beer and the big, bold styles in the U.S. has gone hand-in-hand with the current artisanal food culture. For the first time, a large proportion of consumers are concerned with what they are putting into their bodies. Now, as with cuisine, beers are prized for their quality ingredients and creativity, which adds to a more pleasurable drinking experience.

- Max Stavis


The Fifty Best Beers




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Comments and Suggestions:

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Tue. June 20, 2017 6:49 AM - by: Matt
Really poor list as a lot of people here have said. Far too many American beers, very little diversity.
Mon. May 9, 2016 4:21 AM - by: Wousers!
Just to echo some of the other sentiments, the list should be entitled '50 Best Beers Available in America'.
Tue. February 16, 2016 1:44 PM - by: Neil Hayes
Very American centred list - strange as I find American craft beers hideously over hopped. There are far too few Belgian and German beers on here, and no UK or Irish entries at all. Proof that Yanks really don't travel.
Sat. February 6, 2016 5:11 AM - by: Mike Kennedy
Typical American list, 37 out of 50, quite pathetic.
Wed. October 15, 2014 7:32 AM - by: Dante
I am not quite sure who came up with this list, but it is truly incomplete. This could be due to the person(s) limited selection, but the following biers should be added and at the top of the list. Kronenbourg 1664 - France Hacker Pschorr - Germany (especially Oktoberfest) Spatan - Germany (especially Oktoberfest) Murauer Märzen - Austria Kellerbrauerei Ried Naturtrüb - Austria
Wed. March 13, 2013 12:41 PM - by: Anita
Why include both 90 Min and 120 Min IPAs from Dogfish Head? Not that they aren't both fantastic, but seems kind of a waste of one spot in a line-up of just 50. And, exactly what are the criteria for naming these the 50 best, anyway? Opinion? (If so, whose?) Sales?
Mon. January 28, 2013 8:55 AM - by: Bill Corr
Your comment re Augustiner Hell - "it more rounded and a bit more malty than a typical traditional Pilsner style..." thats because it is not a pilsner - usually sharper and more hoppy -but a Munchen helles lager - I believe the best type of lager.
Fri. December 28, 2012 1:56 PM - by: Brad
This is more of a world class beers of fame ranking. Beer advocate has a legit bof top 100 and a current top 100 based on the people. I seen a comment that stated no uk/Irish beers? Come off it. What did you have in mind in Ireland?? Guinness? I don't think so. There are 2 breweries in Scotland I'd consider brews from and 2-3 from England but no Ireland. The only breweries from that part of Europe I could consider are Samuel smith, harviestoun, brewdog, thornbridge, and j.w. lees. But in terms of the top 50 beers on earth? Germany would be lucky to get one in it with the united states dominating the list and a few Belgians. My top 10. 1. Zombie Dust 2. Pliny the Elder 3. KBS 4. Dreadnaught 5. Westvleteren 12 6. CBS 7. Pliny the Younger 8. Dark Lord 9. Hopslam T10. Stone IRS T10 breakfast stout
Fri. October 5, 2012 7:43 AM - by: Mary Ellen Shelton
I would like to know where I can buy the "Topper Beer" in the Baltimore, Md. area. We use to buy it in Rome/Utica, NY area when we visited relatives there in the 60's. At that time, it was $1.00 a quart bottle. I have the "Topper Tray" but liked the beer very much.
Wed. June 27, 2012 10:57 PM - by: Benjisimpson
Should have a look at some craft beers from New Zealand. I would highly recommend Mikes double IPA. And probably Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black (black IPA) They are both unreal
Tue. May 29, 2012 8:11 PM - by: Cyril Allen
50 best beers and no uk/irish. come off it.
Tue. May 29, 2012 7:43 PM - by: Carl
Two Hearted Ale, or Oberon from bell brewing co.
Thu. April 5, 2012 2:45 AM - by: Josef Skvaril
And what about:Pilsener Urquell,Budvar,Radegast,Staropramen, only some of the lot of Czech beers,or Zlaty Bazant and Smadny Mnich from Slovakia?
Thu. March 8, 2012 12:08 PM - by: Jorge Rivero
You are clearly biased towards American beers, while the best, without a doubt, are European beers.....of course there are great American too, but there should be more from Germany, Belgium, UK, Ireland or Chec Republic on your pics....
Sat. March 3, 2012 10:25 AM - by: Matthew Beer
just happen to be in the middle of a cold Schlekerla Smokebeer...I put it in the top 25 best and #1 Smoked beer! Try with yak or alligator jerky.
Tue. February 14, 2012 3:32 PM - by: Steven Schein
I"m surprised to see that none of the Sam Adams beers are not on the list.
Sat. January 28, 2012 7:34 AM - by: Jeffrey K. Shontz
Mad Elf from Troegs brewery in Hershey Pa. should be on this list
Fri. January 13, 2012 10:35 AM - by: David Glasser
Where is Aventinus on this list?!
Fri. January 6, 2012 12:37 PM - by: Andrew
Tripel Karmaliet
Thu. December 29, 2011 4:28 AM - by: Martyn Cornell
The comment under the very first beer on this list, "At only 4.4% ABV, this low alcohol beer packs more hop and malt flavor into a can than most bitter ales out there", alerted me immediately that this was written by someone who clearly knows nothing whatsoever about British beer, so I wasn't surprised to see there were no British beers on the list. (1) 4.4% is NOT "low alcohol". (2) Britain produces a host of beautiful beers below 4%, full of flavour, from brewers such as Adnams, Palmers, Fullers, Timothy Taylors, Wells & Youngs, Theakstons, Woodforde's, Harvey's, Donnington, Hook Norton, to name just 10. (3) Britain also produces these days a range of stronger specialist beers to rival anyone anywhere in the world, including Gale's Prize Old Ale, Thornbridge Bracia, Meantime London Porter, Harviestoun Ola Dubh, Harvey's Imperial Russian Stout, Fuller's Vintage Ale, Brewdog Paradox, Brakspear Triple, Adnams Tally Ho, Williams Bros Fraoch, St Austell Clouded Yellow, and almost anything from the Kernel range. (4) In between those two extremes is a huge range of superb "premium" (in UK terms) beers such as Marston's Pedigree, Hop Back Summer Lightning, Young's Special, Bath Ales Barnstomer, Twickenham Naked Ladies, Fuller's London Pride, Springhead Roaring Meg, White Shield … really, this is a "Fifty best" list with a vast UK-shaped hole right through the middle of it, making it entirely useless.
Sun. December 18, 2011 11:47 PM - by:
I think Cigar City Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout, Cantillon Blabaer Lambik and Dark Lord are too limited and therefore stand out in this list as odd, especially considering extremely common (but good still) beers like Racer 5 are on the list. I also love rauschbiers, but really doubt the majority of the beer consuming public would ever put a Schlenkerla Urbock on this list. The list just seems a little "thrown together" there are some great beers on the list but in no way is this an accurrate gage of the 50 best beers. Where is the Founder's Canadian Breakfast Stout, where is O'Dell Deconstruction, Mikkeller Nelson Sauvin Brut and so many more?!
Thu. December 15, 2011 10:39 AM - by: Clinton T. Chandler, Jr.
I enjoy most beer and I certainly have no argument with any of your top fifty, but I have spent six months in Britain the last couple of years and tried (mostly successful) to drink a different "cask" beer each day and when possible, a locally brewed. Cask beer is pumped, no CO2, actually drawn from a keg. It is sometimes called warm but it's actually in a cellar environment and kept around fifty degrees. My point? Not a single beer chosen from one of the great beer drinking countries in the world is a little surprising. They really have some good ones. And a lot still brewed by religious orders from hundreds of years ago. I know that doesn't make them good but it would be interested in seeing the top 100.
Tue. December 13, 2011 8:50 AM - by: StoneTroegger
Thank you for helping me update my 'bucket list'! Would love to see the best 100, as I'm certain there r some excellent brews that didn't quite make the top 50. My votes for honorable mention: Stone's Ruination & IPA, Ballast Point Big Eye, & Ithaca Flower Power.
Tue. December 13, 2011 8:48 AM - by: Steve
How about making these beers available as a sampler so that we can all enjoy them!!!
Mon. December 12, 2011 10:13 PM - by: David H.
@James I disagree. I think the U.S. has certainly taken things to a different level but most recent developments here in my mind involve extreme beers. I was at the Oregon Beer Festival this past Summer and I couldn't believe the number of Imperial this and Imperial that in the middle of Summer. While I like a lot of these beers, it's a little overwhelming to my diminutive taste buds to drink much of these. I think what constitutes a traditional style is starting to get a little blurred with bigger and bigger stuff constantlu being presented. That doesn't diminish the true to styles or qualities of the Europeans brewers. In many cases, what were are calling one kind of beer is very different from what they call it.
Mon. December 12, 2011 9:58 PM - by: James Boxton
I laugh at the comments complaining about very little European beers being in this list. It's simple. THEY DON'T COMPARE! The US has taken brewing to another level and there's not another country (including Belgium) that consistently brews such a diverse range of beers that we do.
Mon. December 12, 2011 9:57 PM - by: David H.
Eleven IPAs, four Pale Ales and Seven Imperial Stouts? I like many on this list but a little more diversity should be included in a list like this. Of the all the Troegs beers to pick from, I would have picked the Troegonator or Mad Elf over the one the one selected here. As far as Hefeweizens, I've always consider Ayingers the best bar none. I've also never had a better dopplebock than Schneider Aventinus. Also not one Barleywine in the list. How can that be? Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws is tops for me. Another lager beer which I think is absolutely awesome is Flensburger's the best lager beer I've ever had in Germany and I've tried many. Samiclaus is one hell of a winter beer. And lastly, I could sub-plant most of this list with other selections but the king of all beers in my mind is Thomas Hardy's Ale that has been properly aged for a decade or so!!
Mon. December 12, 2011 6:21 PM - by: da dude
Any list of this kind without bourbon county stout on it should be dismissed
Mon. December 12, 2011 5:02 PM - by: Justin
How is Gulden Draak not on this list?
Mon. December 12, 2011 4:56 PM - by: Craig
Well done. I can't vouch for every beer on the list because there are a few that I have yet to try, but seeing 2 of the 3 Dogfish Head IPA's along with Ten FIDY and Nugget Nectar is awesome. And I'm totally on board with Bryan's comment about the Flyinf Mouflan, I just went out yesterday to get a bottle... Good stuff.
Mon. December 12, 2011 2:49 PM - by: gabe
im surprised that they had no hopslam, and also, if they racer 5 IPA made it on to the list, how did bear republic mach 10 IPA not make it? hmm.
Mon. December 12, 2011 2:43 PM - by: Trav
Good list and difficult to come up with 50. I was suprised to see Flying Dog missing on the list. Their "In Heat Wheat" is the best wheat beer I've ever tasted.
Mon. December 12, 2011 2:33 PM - by: Bryan
Its nice to see a Pennsylvania beer on the list, especially a microbrew of Troegs caliber, but I think when it comes to beers their Flying Mouflan is probably one of the best out there.
Mon. December 12, 2011 10:29 AM - by: Dan
If the author wants to trade for Surly let me know. Furious and Darkness should both be on this list.
Fri. December 9, 2011 10:44 AM - by: Brom
This is a hell of an undertaking and a solid take on the 50 best. Subjective topic, but a solid list of beers. Given the explosion of craft brewing it's impossible to have a definitive top 50, but the 15 or so I've had off this list are tremendous. The Abyss is the best beer I've had. I wasn't surprised by GLBC or Stone on the list, just the particular brew from each. Would've thought La Fin du Monde or St Bernadus Abt 12 among your belgians. I would also love to see Surly (Wet, Furious or Darkness) on here next year - just like hopefully everyone else wants to see their fantastic local craft brewer. Cheers to a great list and 30 new beers to try!
Fri. December 9, 2011 8:41 AM - by: Tim
Congrats on a very solid list! #Rob and #Appreciate have it right - everyone wants to take a shot at a list. Which is BS. I haven't drank all 50 - and I am certain the author hasn't drank at least 50 that I've had. When I see lists that don't list brewers like Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams, Samuel Smith and many of the "average" beers, I know there was significant work done. The San Diego comment is ridiculous. Four San Diego beers - not unbalanced at all when you look at the number from Oregon, Colorado, the Midwest and the East Coast. If #Beer Mom got to San Diego often (or ever?) she/he might have a very different opinion. I could easily put 50 Oregon, 50 Colorado, 50 Midwest or 50 San Diego beers on a list that might be equal to this. But so what? Good job - and thanks again! For those trying to dig through the many beer choices that maybe don't have great knowledge, this is an outstanding guidepost.
Fri. December 9, 2011 1:30 AM - by: Bill Veneklasen
Thu. December 8, 2011 8:35 PM - by: Drew
My vote for two beers that should have been on this list: - Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout - Left Hand Milk Stout
Thu. December 8, 2011 3:14 PM - by: Joe
The beer from Bamberg is in my neighbourship and people from bamberg have a good beer-taste! But Schlenkerla here is not no. 1. A lot of tourists make "beer-holidays" here, because in the district are more then 250 breweries. And i heard nearly every has his own favorit. The best 50 beers - its a joke in my eyes. 49 never heard. And i´m from bavaria. sleep on.
Thu. December 8, 2011 3:02 PM - by: David
Great stuff. I don't care what's been left off or who judged or what they were wearing or who is an idiot ,jackass or moron. The descriptions are great, giving me more to seek. That's enough for me, good pics too.
Thu. December 8, 2011 12:52 PM - by: GT2
I reckon this is the Best Beers that the team from this website was able to acquire. I highly doubt they were able to track down BCS Rare or Black Tuesday. In fact, I am dumbfounded they were able to track down a Cantillon Blabaer but not something easier like Bourbon County or Dark Lord. So much so that I doubt anyone from this website actually drank the Blabaer and decided it was magically better than Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek, which it whole heartedly is not.
Thu. December 8, 2011 12:46 PM - by: Alvarez
Hey Beer Mom! There is a Bamberg beer on this list you MORON!
Thu. December 8, 2011 11:30 AM - by: Appreciative Hop Lover.
Rob kinda said it already. Where's your list people? Someones opinion is about beer is their own. You can criticize this list, but is yours any better? Is it? No really Is it? This person named quite a few beers that are not even distributed in San Diego.. Who care's where he is from? Don't be jealous of their boogey, because you have no boogey of your own. If you feel you can make a superior list and have active supportive readers then just do it. Talk is cheap.
Thu. December 8, 2011 11:00 AM - by: Rob
Thanks for putting you site up and your opinions up for the world to apparently judge. Everyone's so critical but where's their list? This list, like any other, "best of list" is subjective and unfortunately open to rude comments.
Thu. December 8, 2011 9:15 AM - by: Beer Mom
These lists make me laugh.I think that the creator of the list lives in San Diego and has very little room in life for anything other than hoppy and sour....the other styles on the list were just for credibility. Go to Bamberg and have a Rauchbier. Train up to Kobenhavn and enjoy a fresh Classic Tuborg.Get out of your cocoon and enjoy all of the beers that the world has to offer and use your energies to celebrate great beer.....not to limit it to 50 of your personal favorites. Why have a website when all that you really need is Facebook for this fodder...
Thu. December 8, 2011 7:44 AM - by: Brian
Someone really loves IPAs and imperial stouts. I'd like to see a more balanced list. Try doing a top beer from every distinctive style. This list is light on lagers of any kind.
Thu. December 8, 2011 7:04 AM - by: Michael
There are so many beers on that list that are not worthy of the top 1000 let alone top 50 that it is ridiculous.
Thu. December 8, 2011 3:01 AM - by: Henning
Good job putting together the list. Of course, identifying the 50 best beers in the world is a near impossible task, and this list should perhaps be renamed "The best American beers in the world...with a few foreign beers thrown in for good measure". Then again - there aren't too many teams from abroad playing in the "World" Series either. :-) In the past few years Scandinavia has emerged as the new frontier for bold beer brewing, and I would think a few Danish, Swedish and Norwegian beers merit a place on the list. Also, Mikkeler is Danish, not Norwegian.
Thu. December 8, 2011 1:04 AM - by: poimenently puckered
I've been to sour tastings where Lost Abbey's Cable Car was ho-hum & none of the superior offerings are on this list
Thu. December 8, 2011 12:38 AM - by: jeppe
definately a great list. but close to no new beers of 2011. are we drooling in the past?
Thu. December 8, 2011 12:32 AM - by: Norbert
A bit onesided with american beers! Certainly we love beers from the states, though its not easy to get them in europe, but I think its a big lack of competence to miss all the trappist beers, the cechs and certainly the United Kingdom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thu. December 8, 2011 12:00 AM - by: Charlotte
This list lacks a lot of good beers! No Swedish ones for an example. A country whit more than a thousand microbreweries and just nine million inhabitants! Good beers from brewers like Ocean (their brown ale is pure magic!), Dugges, Nils Oscar, Carnegie (try their Porter and try to tell me it's not worthy of this list) and so on! And ofcourse no list is complet if it doesn't mention Brewdog's beers! At least Tokyo should be on this list but a lot of the others like Punk and Trashy blond is clearly amongst the best beer in history!
Wed. December 7, 2011 11:31 PM - by: Darren
and the Australian beers are where?
Wed. December 7, 2011 11:13 PM - by: Nate
ha, this list is lacking big time. you can put dark lord but not The Bruery's Black Tuesday or Chocolate Rain? No Surley Darkness? No Firestone the beer formerly known as Abacus? and to have Pliny the Elder and no nod to Kern Citra or Bootleggers Knuckle Sandwich. this could of definitely used more thought.
Wed. December 7, 2011 10:02 PM - by: jimmyd2
When I didn't see any Bruery (Black Tuesday!) or Goose Island (Bourbon County stout!) you lost credibility with me. There are some great beers on the list though
Wed. December 7, 2011 8:31 PM - by: RyanE
not a very good list at all. Where is the Rogue? Deschutes? Arrogant Bastard? or Black Raven brewery who dominated the beer fests all over the west coast this year? very limited and biased list if u ask me?
Wed. December 7, 2011 5:14 PM - by: Gustav
What no Smuttynose beers or Portsmouth Brewery's Kate the Great!
Wed. December 7, 2011 4:54 PM - by: ButchieYost
Any list with out an Anderson Valley or Yard's Philadelphia Pale Ale just isn't credible. And Christian, not everyone in America drinks bud. I wouldn't be surprised if we have more breweries in the U.S. than the European Union combined . . . you can even throw England in the mix.
Wed. December 7, 2011 3:35 PM - by: Ninja
Very impressive list, though I would argue that Victory at Sea is Ballast Point's best beer, not Sculpin. The list is a little biased toward IPAs if you ask me.
Wed. December 7, 2011 3:09 PM - by: Nick the Tick
Ticked them all. YES!!!
Wed. December 7, 2011 3:08 PM - by: MPR
@Christian, kindly remove yourself from 1985 and meet the American Craft Brew Industry: it's large, it's experimental, and it's world-class.
Wed. December 7, 2011 2:48 PM - by: Tom
@Christian, America is at the *center* of the beer world now.
Wed. December 7, 2011 2:29 PM - by: Hophead
Maybe we should check for the Venezuelan beers.
Mon. November 28, 2011 7:28 PM - by: Christian
Come on people American beer in "best beer" please double check your whole ranking here. Thank you
Wed. September 7, 2011 5:38 PM - by: Jim
Four words (6 - depending on how you figure): Ninkasi Total Domination IPA
Thu. April 28, 2011 8:09 AM - by: lorenzo duque
Which Venezuelan beer do you have in mind ? Most Venezuelan beers have a distinctive taste of plain water with hints of piss.
Wed. April 27, 2011 2:33 PM - by: Jefferson González
Dear sirs: no one from Venezuela? Have you really tasted our beers?
Thu. September 30, 2010 10:15 PM - by: Andre
Chouffe!!!!! Dobbelen IPA Tripel is definitely my all-time favorite IPA... Its a citrus driven hopzilla, with gardenia notes, and a creamy texture... yet to find a stateside brew that can replace it... Tho the Brooklyn Sorachi Ace had me screaming WOW!
Tue. September 14, 2010 9:49 AM - by: Peter
Kingdom Clouded Leopard Pilsener from Cambodia is one to ad to the list! It should qualify as a pilsener/lager, made from Saaz and hallertau hops.
Wed. August 11, 2010 9:41 PM - by: Michael
Lagunita Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale will hold up to any of these and definatly deserves to be put on this list.

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Fifty Best > Beer > Beers
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