Editorial Dept.'s picture

The Best Breweries of 2017

(Issue 34)

2017 was strong for craft beer. The growth of the industry continued with seemingly endless new brewery openings nationwide. To celebrate each year, we put together a list of the best creations as reviewed by our panel of judges with our annual Top 100 Beers of the Year. This year delivered 11 world class beers (100-96) and over 102 exceptional beers (95-91). We also acknowledge the highest ratings for the most populous styles with The Beer in Review. Last but not least, the brewers that brought us the highest rated beers collectively are featured here with The Best Breweries of 2017. Enjoy!


How We Award
We look at the top three highest-scoring beers (as rated by our judging panel) for each brewery in the calendar year.

We then consider how many of the three fall into the 100 to 96: World Class category and the 95 to 91: Exceptional category.

The brewery with the most world-class beers followed by the most exceptional beers is awarded the Brewery of the Year.

If two or more breweries have the same number of world-class and exceptional beers, then the brewery with the highest point total wins.

In the event of a tie, a fourth reviewed beer is counted as a tiebreaker.


Without further ado,
here are the best breweries of 2017.


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2017 Honorable Mentions

Breckenridge Brewery
Littleton, CO
Website

One World Class Beer & Two Exceptional Beers
Total Score: 286
Highest-scoring beers: Brewery Lane Series: Barrel Aged Imperial Cherry Stout -- 97, Brewery Lane Series: Imperial White IPA -- 95, Brewery Lane Series: Oak Aged Saison -- 94

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Upland Brewing Co.
Bloomington, IN
Website

One World Class Beer & Two Exceptional Beers
Total Score: 286
Highest-scoring beers: Cursed Kettles -- 96, Pawpaw -- 95, Cherry -- 95
upland.jpg


Starr Hill Brewery
Crozet, VA
Website

One World Class Beer & Two Exceptional Beers
Total Score: 286
Highest-scoring beers: Double Bass Mocha Double Chocolate Stout -- 96, Reviver Red IPA -- 95, Grateful Pale Ale -- 95
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Second Runner Up
Cape May Brewing Co.
Cape May, NJ
Website

One World Class Beer & Two Exceptional Beers
Total Score: 287
Highest-scoring beers: The Topsail (Best Beer of 2017) -- 98, The Scupper -- 95, White Caps -- 94

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New Jersey's Cape May Brewery has unquestionably demonstrated its place as one of the country's top brewers. The brewery consistently delivers exceptional beers, and with this year's Top Rated Beer of 2017 -- The Topsail -- it has proven it can brew with the world's best. The Topsail is a Mixed-Fermentation Sour Beer that emulates the best of American Wild Ales. This is a warm weather beer with refreshing fruity notes, a medium-light body and high carbonation that accentuates its refreshing character. This beer is sure to become a summertime favorite.

The Scupper, receiving an exceptional 95 rating, is another warm weather option for any beer connoisseur. This is an exceptional American Wild Ale and as the judge describes, "It’s like sticking your face into a fresh spring bouquet with banana, berry, spice, floral, faint orange, pepper, almond, light toast and a hint of tobacco rising from the glass."

Cape May further cemented its position as a top brewery of 2017 with White Caps Double IPA. This fresh, fruit-forward DIPA bursts with melon, mango and resin-like piney hop aromas and flavors atop a clean, slightly sweet malt base. Its medium body and creamy texture deliver a full flavor experience and make it the perfect choice if you're looking for a quaffable, hoppy DIPA.


 

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First Runner Up
Mother Earth Brew Co.
Vista, CA
Website

Two World Class Beers & One Exceptional Beer
Total Score: 286
Highest-scoring beers: Four Seasons Winter '16 -- 97, Four Seasons Spring '17 -- 96, Sin Tax -- 93

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Mother Earth Brew Co. located in Vista, California just north of San Diego had a strong showing in 2017 with its experimental limited-release Four Seasons series, which are released, unsurprisingly, to celebrate every new season of the year.

Leading the charge with a world class rating of 97 was Four Season Winter '16, which was a beautifully balanced Imperial Coffee Stout -- a staple of the modern craft beer scene. The beer was lauded for the incredible interplay between the base Imperial Stout and its coffee bean adjuncts. Excellent stuff.

Next up was the scintillating Four Seasons Spring '17, which logged a world class rating of 96. This unusual Saison employed kumquats as its featured adjunct, and our judge believed this addition enhanced the phenolic spiciness of the base Saison.

Finally, Mother Earth earned this year's distinction as a top brewery with its exceptional Sin Tax - Imperial Peanut Butter Stout with a rating of 93. This beer melds with the winter season and is perfect to drink in front of the fireplace, in a snifter, and should be enjoyed slowly to let it warm up.

If Mother Earth continues to release terrific beers like this every season, it will have a permanent place in our hearts (and in our tummies).

 

 

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Brewery of the Year
Heavy Seas Beer

Halethorpe (Baltimore), Maryland
Website

Two World Class Beers & One Exceptional Beer
Total Score: 287
Highest-scoring beers: The Partner Ships Series: Stone Brewing Co. -- 97, Below Decks -- 96, Blackbeard's Breakfast -- 94

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We are excited to announce that Heavy Seas Beer of the Baltimore, Maryland area was awarded two world class reviews plus the highest rated exceptional beer, making it our 2017 Brewery of the Year!

Heavy Seas is known for its big beers, and our high scorers were no exception: the brewery's Partner Ships Series with Stone Brewing was a fascinating Brown IPA brewed with molasses that was both complex and delicious -- which showed in its extremely high score of 97.

Up next was Below Decks, an immense English Barleywine that hit all the right flavor spots within its 12.2 percent ABV delivering a 96 world class rating.

Rounding out Heavy Seas' high scorers was Blackbeard's Breakfast, a bourbon barrel-aged Coffee Porter that was sure to send craft beer junkies scurrying to their favorite bottle shop to nab one to drink and a second to age and enjoy later. Its 94 rating provided enough punch to win Heavy Seas the esteemed Best Brewery of 2017 award. Congratulations!


Comments

hugh@hsbeer.com's picture
Wow! We are honored!
jackperdue's picture
Congrats Hugh and company at Heavy Seas. Lots of great beer comes from these guys. Good to see them recognized this way!

Comments

hugh@hsbeer.com's picture
Wow! We are honored!
jackperdue's picture
Congrats Hugh and company at Heavy Seas. Lots of great beer comes from these guys. Good to see them recognized this way!

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