Top 5 Most Influential Beers

Posted on November 5th, 2009

prizes

Today we’re going to take a look at the five beers that most define they way we think about beer. Love ‘em or loathe ‘em, they have shaped what beer is for the average consumer.

bud2Budweiser – Regardless of how you feel about Budweiser, you can’t deny the huge role it has had in creating the modern American beer landscape. Wherever you are in the US, you can find a bottle, can or draft of Budweiser. Sure, Bud Light has replaced Budweiser as Anheuser-Busch’s signature brand, but it was good ol’ Bud that paved the way. A-B won over the masses thanks to Bud’s universal availability and year after year of clever commercials. Although certainly not the first light lager, Budweiser’s own special blend of corn and rice makes for an “easy to drink” beer that’s great for folks that don’t really like beer.

guinGuinness – It’s hard to overstate the influence of Guinness stout. For many (including myself), it was the first non-light lager beer they ever tried. In many ways it can be thought of as a gateway beer, introducing many to the world of beer beyond Budweiser. They’ve accomplished this with their velvety smooth texture and lightly roasted flavors. Although Guinness has a reputation as an extremely heavy beer, it’s deceptively smooth and light, which makes it dangerously easy to drink.

anchorsteam_bottleAnchor Steam –  The original American craft beer. As we mentioned on Tuesday, Anchor Steam was the first brewery after Prohibition to brew without adjuncts or fillers, making it the first craft brewery. When Fritz Maytag bought the failing Anchor Brewing Company in 1965, he probably had no idea it would lead to the craft beer movement, but it did. Anchor Steam showed the world that American beer could be unique, substantial and delicious. The beer itself is a lovely hybrid of the best qualities of ales and lagers. It combines the light and smooth aspects of lager with the warm, round flavors of ale. It’s certainly worth a try.

samSam Adams Boston Lager – While Anchor Steam was the first American craft brewery, Sam Adams was the first to expand their distribution  to a national scale.  This enabled almost everyone in American to get a taste of lager done the proper way. Without any adjuncts like corn or rice in their beer, Sam Adams became the first American lager to be sold in Germany under their strict beer purity law, the Reinheitsgebot. Sam Adams lager is notably hoppy for a lager, something the company takes considerable pride in, which they should.  It’s delicious.

sierra_nevada_pale_ale_35clSierra Nevada Pale Ale – Over the last ten years, much of the experimentation and innovation among craft brewers has happened in the realm of hops, and this is the one that started it all. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is one hoppy beer, even by pale ale standards. It delivers a massive hop taste that’s citrusy and floral, really showcasing what hoppy beer can be. Their signature use of Cascade hops also helped usher in that variety as the American hop.  To this day, most American IPAs and pale ales have some Cascade in them.

What beers have really influenced the way you think about beer? Where do these beers stack up in your Top 5? Leave us a comment and let us know what your favorites are and where we missed the mark. And as always next time you have a brew let us know by tweeting what you drank and adding the ‘#mybeer’ hashtag.

  • daveinco

    your list is pretty accurate. I wonder how many people were also influenced early on by red hook. anchor steam and sierra pale were definitely early favorites being from CA, and so was red tail–probably my first craft beer–from Mendocino Brewing Co. (My boss at my first job always drank them.) A current favorite is Ska Brewing's Modus Hoperandi, a superior American IPA.

  • Here in Boston it was clearly Sam Adams, but it's always interesting to hear about folks on the west coast and their similar affinity for Anchor Steam and Sierra Nevada.

  • Kevin

    Interesting list…I am always surprised by how light and smooth guinness draught is.

    Right now I really love anything coming from Deschutes Brewery. Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Black Butte Porter are my favorites.

  • daveinco

    your list is pretty accurate. I wonder how many people were also influenced early on by red hook. anchor steam and sierra pale were definitely early favorites being from CA, and so was red tail–probably my first craft beer–from Mendocino Brewing Co. (My boss at my first job always drank them.) A current favorite is Ska Brewing's Modus Hoperandi, a superior American IPA.

  • Here in Boston it was clearly Sam Adams, but it's always interesting to hear about folks on the west coast and their similar affinity for Anchor Steam and Sierra Nevada.

  • Kevin

    Interesting list…I am always surprised by how light and smooth guinness draught is.

    Right now I really love anything coming from Deschutes Brewery. Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Black Butte Porter are my favorites.

  • Rutherford

    Y'all will probably burn me for saying this but Natural Light, just because it's awful it doesn't mean it isn't influential. Many people are introduced to drinking for the first time with cheap, nasty beer at highschool/college parties. Cheap, easy to get beer like this influences how we learn to drink in a social setting. Just my .02

  • adrianflude

    Your list is wrong the top influencing beer is from the UK and was being produced before Budweiser was stolen from the Europeans….its BURTON IPA…which has had more influence in the world of beer since the 1800's! Typical of the US beer fraternity to be so ethnocentric…

  • Rutherford

    Y'all will probably burn me for saying this but Natural Light, just because it's awful it doesn't mean it isn't influential. Many people are introduced to drinking for the first time with cheap, nasty beer at highschool/college parties. Cheap, easy to get beer like this influences how we learn to drink in a social setting. Just my .02

  • Rutherford

    Y'all will probably burn me for saying this but Natural Light, just because it's awful it doesn't mean it isn't influential. Many people are introduced to drinking for the first time with cheap, nasty beer at highschool/college parties. Cheap, easy to get beer like this influences how we learn to drink in a social setting. Just my .02

  • adrianflude

    Your list is wrong the top influencing beer is from the UK and was being produced before Budweiser was stolen from the Europeans….its BURTON IPA…which has had more influence in the world of beer since the 1800's! Typical of the US beer fraternity to be so ethnocentric…

  • adrianflude

    Your list is wrong the top influencing beer is from the UK and was being produced before Budweiser was stolen from the Europeans….its BURTON IPA…which has had more influence in the world of beer since the 1800's! Typical of the US beer fraternity to be so ethnocentric…