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Belt's Beer Garden: Top 5 List

Celebrating Christmas by breaking down our favorite beers!

First off, Merry Christmas everyone!

For this week's installment, instead of reviewing a couple of beers, the main reviewers (myself, Norm Miller, and Carter Adler) wanted to share our list of top beers in a range of categories. These are the brews we hope to find in our presents today.

Before we begin, Carter wanted to make a brief statement:

I'd like to make a special shout out to the recently defunct (closed this summer) Indigo Imp, which did small-batch open fermentation in shallow tanks (for more exposure) in Cleveland. The brewery in general, and their Blonde Bombshell in particular, would have been in my top five if they were still around.

I'd also like to share a fun and tasty beer combo, "The Double Barrel", a 50/50 mix of Alltech's Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale and the less-widely-distributed Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout.

Thanks, Dave, for pushing us all to keep drinking more good beer!

- Carter Adler

For this we simply created a list of categories and ranked our top-5 brews in each one. Some of us didn't have five for each category and so just listed our favorites that we had tried. The categories are as follows; Top Breweries, Best Overall Beers, IPAs, Pale Ales, Saison, Amber/Reds, Lager, Pilsner, Pale Wheat, Witbier, Hefeweizen, Porter, Stout, Fruit, Brown Ale, Blonde Ale, and Specialty brews.

We'll start with the best selling style in the world...IPAs.

Top 5 Beer List
Style: IPA Dave Norm Carter
1 Russian River - Pliny the Elder Surly - Abrasive Great Lakes - Chillwave Double IPA
2 Maine Beer Co - Another One Russian River - Pliny the elder Short's - Huma Lupa Licious
3 10 Barrel - Apocalypse IPA Pipeworks - Square Grouper West Sixth - Heller Heaven Double IPA
4 Austin Beer Works - Fire Eagle Pipeworks - Citra Ninja West Sixth - IPA
5 Breakwater - Del Mar Jetty Three Floyds - Permanent Funeral Columbus Brewing - Dalton

Next up the Pale Ale.

Top 5 Beer List
Style: Pale Ale Dave Norm Carter
1 Maine Beer Co - Mo Three Floyds - Zombie Dust Arbor - Ypsi Gypsy Pale Ale
2 Odd Side Ales - Citra Pale Ale Half Acre - Daisy Cutter The Brew Kettle - Four C's American Pale Ale
3 Maplewood - The Charlatan Lagunitas - Equinox Founders - Zuper Hophead
4 Marz - The Machine Two Brothers - Sidekick
5 Maine Beer Co - Peeper Three Floyds - Alpha King

After the Pale Ales, it tis the Saison:

Top 5 Beer List
Style: Saison Dave Norm Carter
1 Dogfish/Stone/Victory - Saison du BUFF Brasserie Dupont Spl - Saison Dupont
2 Arcana - SD Saigeson Bruery Terreux - Saison Rue
3 Perennial - Saison de Lis Boulevard Brewing - Tank 7
4 Epic - Sour Apple Saison Off Color - Apex Predator
5 Allagash - Saison Backcountry Brewery - Imperial Saison

Amber Ales are our next category:

Top 5 Beer List
Style: Amber/Red Dave Norm Carter
1 Maine Beer Co - Red Wheelbarrow Three Floyd's - Amber Smashed Face New Belgium - Fat Tire
2 21st Amendment - Toaster Pastry Pipeworks -Blood of the Unicorn Chelsea Alehouse - Amber Ale
3 Maine Beer Co - Zoe Emmett's - Red Ale
4 Beer Republic - Red Rocket One Trick Pony - Stormcat
5 Half Acre - Ginger Twin Sierra Nevada - Nooner Pilsner

Next up: the top-5 lagers:

Top 5 Beer List
Style: Lager Dave Norm Carter
1 Ale Syndicate - Roe's Hill Sam Adams - Winter Lager
2 Leinenkugel - IPL Blue Stallion - Munich Dunkel
3 Sierra Nevada - Beer Camp Hoppy Lager (2015) Hudepohl - Amber Lager
4 Short's - MMMKay Great Lakes - Dortmunder Gold
5 Wisconsin - Betray Ale

After lagers, naturally, comes pilsners:

Top 5 Beer List
Style: Pilsner Dave Norm Carter
1 5 Rabbit - Gringolandia Super Pils Sierra Nevada - Nooner Pilsner Blue Stallion - German Pilsner
2 Two Brothers - Kick 'Em in the Pils Victory - Prima Pils Great Lakes - The Wright Pils
3 Fountain Square - Workingman's Pils Firestone Walker - Pivo Pils
4 Goose Island - Blue Line Left Hand Brewing - Polestar Pilsner
5 Flat 12 - Hinchtown Hammer Down Bell's - Lager of the Lakes

Pale Wheat beers are our next category.

Top 5 Beer List
Style: Pale Wheat Dave Norm Carter
1 Three Floyd's - Gumballhead Three Floyd's - Gumballhead
2 Marz - Jungle Boogie Lagunitas - Little Sumpin' Sumpin'
3 Maplewood - Lemon Drop Wheat Boulevard Brewing - 80-Acre
4 4 Hands - Contact High Half Acre - Akari Shogun
5 Hailstorm - Alabama Hot Tub New Belgium - Snapshot

Keep your Witbiers about you:

Top 5 Beer List
Style: Witbier Dave Norm Carter
1 Mikkeller - Wit Fit Harpoon - UFO White Great Lakes - Wit Till Next Year
2 Einstök Olgerđ - Icelandic White Dogfish Head - Namaste Sam Adams - Cold Snap
3 Brick by Brick - Running Dune (Lithuania) Revolution - Bottom Up Wit Sam Adams - White Christmas
4 Barrel Trolley - Belgian White Two Brothers - Night cat New Belgium - Snapshot
5 Tow Yard - Hula Hoop Girl Bell's - Winter White Ale

Hefeweizens are next:

Top 5 Beer List
Style: Hefeweizen Dave Norm Carter
1 Garage Brewing - Mango Hefeweizen Cambridge Brewing -Hefeweizen
2 Lakefront - Wisconsinite Two Brothers - Ebel's Weiss
3 Live Oak - HefeWeizen Greenbush - Sunspot
4 Wild Onion - Hefty Weiss Ale Asylum - Unshadowed
5 Lightning - Thunderweizen Piece Brewery - Top Heavy

Now on to something darker...porters:

Top 5 Beer List
Style: Porter Dave Norm Carter
1 Einstök Olgerđ - Toasted Porter Bell's - Porter Country Boy - Jalapeno Smoked Porter
2 Thirsty Dog - Old Leghumper O'so Brewing - Night Train Smuttynose - Robust Porter
3 Ballast Point - Victory at Sea Revolution - Eugene Great Lakes - Edmund Fitzgerald
4 Breckenridge - Vanilla Porter Left Hand - Black Jack
5 Great Lakes - Edmund Fitzgerald Ballast Point - Victory at Sea

And stouts:

Top 5 Beer List
Style: Stout Dave Norm Carter
1 Garage - Marshmallow Milk Stout Ska- Estival Cream Stout Founders - Kentucky Breakfast Stout
2 Tallgrass - Buffalo Sweat Bell's - Kalamazoo Left Hand - Milk Stout *(not Milk Stout Nitro)*
3 Bell's - Neptune Deschutes - Obsidian Founders - Breakfast Stout
4 Bell's - Special Double Cream Stout Bell's - Expedition Alltech - Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout
5 Ska - Hibernal Vinifera Anderson Valley - Huge Arker Cellar Rats - Black Rat Imperial Stout

Let's not forget brown ales:

Top 5 Beer List
Style: Brown Ale Dave Norm Carter
Brown Ale: 1 Surly - Bender Back Forty - Truck Stop Honey Brown Shorts - Bellaire Brown
2 John Smith's - Newcastle Brown Ale Pearl Street - Downtown Brown Shorts - Good Humans
3 Sam Smith's - Nut Brown Ale Dark Horse - Boffo Bells - Best Brown
4 Big Sky - Moose Drool John Smiths - Newcastle Brown Ale
5 Stone - Drew & Steve's Imperial Mutt Brown Tyranena - Rocky's Revenge

Or blondes:

Top 5 Beer List
Style: Blonde Ale Dave Norm Carter
1 Maplewood - Creepy Ginger Lagunitas - Fusion 30 Ommegang - Gnomegang
2 Lagunitas - Fusion 30 Brouwerij - Piraat Country Boy - Cougar Bait
3 Brouwerij Huyghe - Delirium Tremens Ska - True Blonde Arbor Brewing - Strawberry Blonde
4 Firestone Walker - 805 Blonde Argus - EZ Rider
5 4 Hands - Send Help Sierra Nevada - Yvan the Greart

We're nearing the end now. Just four more categories.

Here's our favorite fruit beers:

Top 5 Beer List
Style: Fruit Beer Dave Norm Carter
1 Moa - Breakfast Founders - Rubaeus Founders - Mango Magnifico
2 Shiner - Prickly Pear Flying Dog - Supertramp Arbor Brewing - Strawberry Blonde
3 Legacy - That Guava Beer 21st Amendment - Hell or High Watermelon
4 Abita - Strawberry Harvest
5 Unibroue - Ephemere Pomme

Next up, the best specialty beers:

Top 5 Beer List
Style: Specialty Beers Dave Norm Carter
1 B. Nektar - Kill All the Golfers (mead) Founders - Kentucky Breakfast Stout
2 Iron Fist - Spice of Life (spiced beer) Alltech - Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout
3 Left Hand - Good Juju (spiced beer) Aecht Schenkerla - Märzen Rauchbier
4 Redstone - Nectar of the Hops (mead) Alltech - Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale
5 Furthermore - Knot Stock (spiced beer)

Just two more categories...but they are the big ones.

Our penultimate list features our top five breweries.

Top 5 Beer List
Best Overall Breweries Dave Norm Carter
1 Maine Beer Co Three Floyd's Shorts
2 Stone Lagunitas Country Boy
3 Maplewood Pipeworks Founders
4 Sierra Nevada Bell's Blue Stallion
5 Marz Community Brewing Revolution Hoppin' Frog

And finally, the best beers we've ever had:

Top 5 Beer List
Best Overall Beers Dave Norm Carter
1 Maine Beer Co - Another One Surly - Abrasive Founders - Kentucky Breakfast Stout
2 Russian River - Pliny the Elder Russian River - Pliny the Elder Great Lakes - Chillwave Double IPA
3 Odd Side Ales - Citra Pale Ale Three Floyd's - Zombie Dust Samuel Adams - Winter Lager
4 Three Floyd's - Gumballhead Ballast Point - Grapefruit Sculpin Country Boy - Jalapeño Smoked Lager
5 Maine Beer Co - Mo Bell's - Expedition Stout Blue Stallion - Barrel Aged (Bourbon) Wee Heavy

So what do you think? Did we get it right? Anything you'd change? Let us know if we missed any great beers/breweries.