Zymurgy’s Big Yawn

If you troll the beer blogs, chat boards, websites and such, you’ve likely by now come across news of the results of Zymurgy Magazine’s annual poll naming The Best Beers in America. And you may have even been impressed by the fact that 1,192 different beers from 450 breweries were represented in the poll or that, for the second year running, Russian River’s Pliny the Elder was named Numero Uno.

Not that any of it matters.

I say it doesn’t matter not out of disrespect for Pliny the elder or Russian River Brewing – it’s a very fine beer from an excellent brewery – nor because I’m dismissive of what homebrewers, the target market for Zymurgy, have to say about beer – they’re generally a passionate lot and know their beer, for certain. No, I don’t think the results matter for one simple reason: there were a total of only2,867 votes cast.

For a poll that merited a press release and fairly large amount of repeating and debate within the Internet-o-sphere, that’s a shockingly low number of votes, comparable to the number of “Tasters Choice” ballots that might be cast at a small-scale beer festival. I wouldn’t lend much credence to one of those, and similarly I suggest no one read too much into the Zymurgy poll.

It’s really just a big yawn, is all.

5 Replies to “Zymurgy’s Big Yawn”

  1. I completely agree. I’ll scan through these “lists” but they are entirely arbitrary, as with most lists. One that is based on certifiable data I’ll pay more attention to (like a brewery production or growth list). Or, were a tried and true beer expert “(not the self proclaimed zymurgy voter type) make a list of worthy beers (like the deceased Michael Jackson) I would then tuck the list away somewhere.

    Great post.

  2. The one thing the list shows me, is that the homebrewing community is not all about the over the top/ barrel aged/RIS/36%/collaboration/etc. trading fodder that the rating websites seem to revere.
    Shows a pretty broad spectrum of what Craft Beer is all about. Although, the number of entries from Rahr threw me off a little.

    1. There have been whispers of a campaign organized by Rahr, but I’m skeptical. More likely a good relationship with the regional homebrewing community and some fine Germanic beers, I’d guess.

  3. On top of the small number of votes submitted, there is also the fact that unless you have sufficient distribution (whether it is all official, or bolstered by unofficial trading) you’re not going to stand much chance. Take Black Raven Brewing Company, for example – they make a number of top notch beers and have won many professional awards in the little over a year they have been open (such as, for example, two Golds and a Silver in this year’s WBC) but they stand little chance in a poll like this since they do not even bottle (excepting a couple of special Anniversary brews they have creafted for a local bottle shop) so are pretty much only going to receive votes from the local beer community.

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