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The Most Solid Brewery

Eno Sarris, October 09, 2013 -   

Trolling the leaderboards -- as is my wont -- I noticed that my favorite Boulevard beer (the Saison-Brett) barely cracked the top ten in the Lower Midwest. It's a great beer, and along with Love Child and other specials I've had from the brewery, I was convinced that Boulevard Brewing was underrated.

Should they rank higher than 16th in the nation, as they do by cumulative BAR?

Brewery Sum BAR Beers
Stone Brewing Co. 251.7 90
The Bruery 204.0 80
Founders Brewing Company 187.4 50
Three Floyds Brewing Company 185.1 53
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery 169.0 64
Hill Farmstead Brewery 163.8 29
Firestone Walker Brewing Company 153.2 34
Cigar City Brewing 148.5 56
Russian River Brewing Company 146.5 34
Goose Island Beer Co. 136.7 55
Mikkeller 132.1 99
Brasserie Cantillon 122.7 21
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 115.8 65
BrewDog 102.8 58
Bell's Brewery, Inc. 95.7 55
Boulevard Brewing Co. 93.8 39
New Glarus Brewing Company 91.6 26
Lagunitas Brewing Company 88.1 35
Avery Brewing Company 87.6 38
Cascade Brewing Company 77.4 25

I flipped ahead to their worst beers and noticed that they had 45 beers, and only four of them were negative. How did that rank among the top 20 breweries? Who made the most duds? Who has the lowest 'negative BAR' (suck?) percentage?

And this is not brewsterbation -- say you are at a store and see a beer you don't recognize from one of these breweries. Perhaps you'd rather not take the chance that you get a negative beer. Maybe you're visiting family and you know that if you bring a dud you'll have to hear 'beer nerd' jokes all night while they make sour beer face at you. Maybe you're just not in the mood to be frisky. Knowing your chance of getting a bad beer can be useful.

So: those same 20 breweries, ranked from the lowest Suck Percentage to the highest:

Brewery Sum BAR Beers Percent Neg
Hill Farmstead Brewery 163.8 29 0.00%
Brasserie Cantillon 122.7 21 0.00%
Three Floyds Brewing Company 185.1 53 1.82%
Firestone Walker Brewing Company 153.2 34 4.76%
Russian River Brewing Company 146.5 34 5.26%
Founders Brewing Company 187.4 50 5.36%
New Glarus Brewing Company 91.6 26 6.25%
Stone Brewing Co. 251.7 90 6.60%
Boulevard Brewing Co. 93.8 39 8.89%
Avery Brewing Company 87.6 38 8.89%
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery 169.0 64 9.72%
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 115.8 65 9.72%
Cascade Brewing Company 77.4 25 11.43%
Lagunitas Brewing Company 88.1 35 13.16%
Cigar City Brewing 148.5 56 14.52%
The Bruery 204.0 80 15.56%
Goose Island Beer Co. 136.7 55 17.46%
BrewDog 102.8 58 20.31%
Mikkeller 132.1 99 21.31%
Bell's Brewery, Inc. 95.7 55 30.16%

I'm actually willing to ignore the top two. I don't think anyone would turn away a beer from Hill Farmstead or Cantillon. And the hype factor is strong with them. If you finally do put your hands on them, you're probably not going to give them less than three stars, so it's hard for them to put up negative BAR.

Maybe the rest at the top have that sort of halo effect, but at least they have duds. It makes me more comfortable crowning Three Floyds, Firestone Walker and Russian River your trio of the most solid breweries in America. (It's not too much of a negative mark on Mikkeller and Bell's to be at the bottom of this list -- they take risks that few others take, and they should be rewarded for forward-thinking.)

And it's also worth noting that Boulevard Brewing moved up in these second rankings. They moved up more than every brewer other than Cantillon, New Glarus and Avery, too. There was something to that kernel of an idea I had, while trolling the leaderboards yesterday.

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