The Best Brewery

Eno Sarris, July 17, 2013

Thanks to Alex Fossi, we have some knowledge what the worst beer is. And our leaderboards (now with search!) currently sport Heady Topper at the top of the list, appropriately at least by naming conventions. But once you start aggregating the beers by brewery, problems emerge.

Like, here's the top 15 breweries by check in score.

Brewery Name Average Score
The Alchemist Pub & Brewery 4.780427
Brouwerij De Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren 4.590842
Russian River Brewing Company 4.456169
Brasserie Cantillon 4.35956
Hill Farmstead Brewery 4.3292
Kern River Brewing Company 4.32107
Alpine Beer Company (CA) 4.304815
New England Brewing Co. 4.277062
Surly Brewing Company 4.242365
Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen 4.218247
Three Floyds Brewing Company 4.209563
Bell's Brewery, Inc. 4.189356
FiftyFifty Brewing Co. 4.170907
Abbey Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy 4.164211
Carton Brewing Company 4.161952

Well of course the Alchemist is on top, they have the top beer. The Alchemist has two beers in our sample though. Only two beers cleared 50 check-ins, and one is the best in the business and one is below replacement (Celia Saison). Hard to call them the best brewery, even if we set a 200 check-in minimum for this list.

We do have a handy tool for rating things that includes concepts like replacement level and credit for number of check-ins however, so let's re-order that list by average BAR.

Brewery Name Ave BAR
Brouwerij De Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren 6.7
The Alchemist Pub & Brewery 6.2
Brasserie Cantillon 5.6
Hill Farmstead Brewery 5.6
Kern River Brewing Company 5.4
Alpine Beer Company (CA) 5.3
New England Brewing Co. 4.8
Russian River Brewing Company 4.6
Carton Brewing Company 4.6
Surly Brewing Company 3.8
Abbey Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy 3.7
Bell's Brewery, Inc. 3.5
Three Floyds Brewing Company 3.4
FiftyFifty Brewing Co. 3.4
Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen 2.7

Eh. We replaced the Alchemist with a brewery that has four beers in our sample, all of which are very difficult to acquire.

How about we raise the bar for entry into this club. The Best Brewery should probably have more than a handful of beers on our leaderboard. Let's raise the barrier to entry to 10,000 check-ins. Is that crazy? Let's judge by results, even if that makes the economists among you shudder.

Brewery Average Score
Russian River Brewing Company 4.456169
Three Floyds Brewing Company 4.209563
Bell's Brewery, Inc. 4.189356
Tröegs Brewing Company 4.150167
Founders Brewing Company 4.082349
Lagunitas Brewing Company 4.059383
Firestone Walker Brewing Company 4.018227
Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits 4.000343
Stone Brewing Co. 3.978777
The Bruery 3.954641
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery 3.954231
Oskar Blues Brewery 3.904373
Green Flash Brewing Co. 3.887381
BrewDog 3.871675
Sixpoint Brewery 3.854503

Oh man oh man, this list works for me. It's pretty much the best beers in craft, all in one place. And, after I made The Pliny Pilgrimmage, I declared Russian River my favorite brewery, soooo... this works for me. But I'll try to continue on. Let's order these breweries by BAR instead of check in score. And let's do cumulative BAR -- that way, breweries that have beers on the tippy-top get rewarded well, and also breweries that avoid negative brews. Both of these skills seem relevant.

So. Your top 20 Breweries in America, minimum 10,000 check-ins, by cumulative Beers Above Replacement. Can't say I'm upset, this smells right to me.

Brewery Sum BAR
Stone Brewing Co. 134.9112607
Three Floyds Brewing Company 131.4970347
The Bruery 129.8454267
Founders Brewing Company 113.3482418
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery 110.6687179
Russian River Brewing Company 106.5539312
Firestone Walker Brewing Company 103.7414434
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 100.3025319
Goose Island Beer Co. 90.76575834
Mikkeller 89.95517023
Cigar City Brewing 83.49804577
Lagunitas Brewing Company 75.02885467
Bell's Brewery, Inc. 74.58177805
BrewDog 73.83790787
Great Lakes Brewing Company 67.62828181
Boulevard Brewing Co. 61.67665989
New Glarus Brewing Company 58.69049381
Avery Brewing Company 51.02319854
Southern Tier Brewing Company 49.35562133
Deschutes Brewery 46.60647764

Or are we rewarding breweries that make a ton of (great) beers? And is that not a good sign of a great brewery? Where does this rabbit hole go?