Bottle of Pliny from Russian River Brewing Co. 2008

Sonoma County brewers made a powerful showing on the top 50 beers of 2013 list in the latest issue of the American Homebrewers Association magazine Zymurgy (that’s the fancy name for brewing).

Number 1 was, for the fifth straight year, Russian River’s Pliny the Elder, which already sits at or near the top of just about everyone’s Best Of list. It beat out Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, which is a seriously great IPA out of Michigan, which we can’t get here on the West Coast. But with Pliny the Elder on the shelves in every decent grocery store, I think we’ll make do.

What was bigger news, however, was the splendid showing on the list by our local brewers: 10 of the top 50 are brewed here in Sonoma County. Russian River topped the results with five: Pliny the Elder (1), Consecration (31), Supplication (tied for 32); Pliny the Younger (tied for 39, surprised it wasn’t higher, but maybe not that many people have tried it); and Blind Pig (tied for 42).

Lagunitas made a strong appearance on the list, with four beers. The big coup was the Sucks IPA, which tied for 9th place in its first year on the list (it debuted only in 2011). Other Lagunitas beers on there were Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ (tied for 23), IPA (36, beating our Stone and Odell IPA, at 37 and 38 respectively), and Brown Shugga’ (sneaking on by tying for 48th place).

Bear Republic’s signature Racer 5 came in tied for 21st place with Zombie Dust from Indiana’s Three Floyds, which we also can’t get out here.

Nearby North Coast Brewing came in tied for 12th place with its extremely powerful but smooth Russian imperial stout known as Old Rasputin.

California overall dominated the list, with 26 beers, including multiple winners from Sierra Nevada, Firestone Walker, Stone, clash royale gems generator and Green Flash.

The full list is online at

– Sean Scully