The 10 best breweries in the world 2020, according to Ratebeer’s users
The beer world’s answer to Tripadvisor, Ratebeer, has just released its top 100 brewery ranking for 2020.
The ranking is based on 10 different weighted scales, which look at factors such as user reviews of the past year and top performing beers, but also includes historical all-around performance, a brewer’s strength across a range of styles, and a few other factors to compare newer and older, larger and smaller brewers under a single method of processing.
While the vast majority of brewers are based in the US this year, Ratebeer’s top 10 has featured producers from around the world in the past, such as Mikkeller in Denmark and Sweden’s Omnipollo.
Joe Tucker, founder of RateBeer: “Our winners are big and small, urban and rural, highly specialised or brewing a myriad of styles. RateBeer Best judges them on equal footing, with many of our reviewers traveling extensively, so it’s not uncommon to see a brewery that some people see as their local gem recognised as a global best. In fact, most of our top 100 winners are smaller breweries.”
Keep scrolling to see which brewers are this year’s fan favourites.
10. Firestone Walker Brewing (California) — jumped up from 16th
Owned by Belgian brewer Duvel-Moortgat, Firestone Walker is California’s fourth-largest craft brewery and is known for producing hoppy ales with a transatlantic twist. The brewery was founded in 1996 by the heroically-named Adam Firestone, who sold it on to sold to Duvel Moortgat in 2015.
9. Sante Adairius Rustic Ales (California) — jumped up from 10th
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Co-owners Tim Clifford and Adair Paterno founded the brewery in 2012 with just US$10,000, and today it is one of he US’ most hyped craft producers. SARA has garnered reputation for everything from hops-forward IPAs to mixed-fermentation brews, while some of its beers have been known to re-sell for hundreds of dollars on the mysterious world of the craft beer secondary market.
8. Cloudwater Brew Co (Greater Manchester) — jumped up from 14th
Cloudwater has made it back into the top 10 this year, after dropping to 14th in 2019 from its 2nd place spot the year prior.
Known for hazy pale ales with layers of tropical fruit sand citrus, Cloudwater is a cult favourite in the UK with a following that sees it gain listings everywhere from specialist retailers, to off-licenses, to the Tate Modern.
Launched back in 2014, the brewery has climbed up from fifth place in 2017, when it became the first UK brewery to make RateBeer’s top 10.
7. Founders Brewing Company (Michigan) — jumped from 12th
Founders Brewing Co., Michigan’s largest brewery, may have had a controversial year, but Ratebeer’s users still hold the beers in high regard.
Founders closed its Detroit taproom last October after an employment deposition that dealt with ongoing racial discrimination against an employee was leaked to the press. The deposition was settled in October, but the taproom was closed citing staff safety.
However, the taproom re-opened on 6 February, and the brewer has said it will donate the bar’s earnings to three Detroit charities for the next three years and the brewer has pledged to work with the City of Detroit and its Detroit At Work program to hire more qualified residents.Co-founder Mike Stevens said in a statement: “While our intentions were good when we first launched the taproom in 2017, we need to make more efforts to connect in meaningful ways with the City of Detroit. We’re going to do this right and we look forward to sharing the journey with our fans, community partners and business partners.”
Since its founding as an independent brewery in the mid 1990s, it has grown to become one of the largest brewers in the US. Mahou San Miguel purchased a majority stake in the business last year, having first invested in 2013.
6. AleSmith Brewing Company (California) — same for 2nd year in a row
AleSmith regularly makes it into the top 10. Starting out life in a small single-unit space in San Diego 1995, it is also the oldest brewery to make it into RateBeer’s top 10.
“Grand master” beer judge Peter Zien bought the brewery and became its brewmaster in 2002, and since then has gone on to open a second, larger brewery and tasting room for visitors.
Zien is also known for international collaborations, and in 2015 handed over the original brewery to Danish outfit Mikkeller, transforming it into one of the European drinks maker’s US outposts.
5. Cigar City Brewing (Florida) — jumped down from 4th
Founded in 2007 by former Tampa Bay Times beer writer Joey Redner, Florida brewery Cigar City focuses on a roster of higher-ABV IPAs, pale ales and white ales produced year-round, but also sells darker beers such as stouts to coincide with local festivals.
4. Tree House Brewing Company (Massachusetts) — jumped up from 5th
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Moving up one place this is Tree House. the Massachusetts brewer started trading in 2011, and has steadily risen through the ranks over the past eight years.
Like many of the breweries in our ranking, it became famous for delivering hazy, fruit-forward New England-style IPAs (NEIPAs), but many of its serves change with the seasons. The artwork on the cans is particularly striking, and also has a seasonal edge.
3. Trillium Brewing Company (Massachusetts) — same for 3rd year in a row
Boston-based brewery Trillium was launched in 2010 by Jean-Claude and Esther Tetreault, and has since become known for its creative products and collaborations with fellow brewers.
Trillium’s brewing processes are inspired by a farm-to-bottle mentality, experimenting with wild yeast and barrel ageing, and are also known for experimentation. One of its most recent launches, Pow Pow Double IPA, combined regular hops with Lupulin powder — a concentrated hop product made by flash freezing and then shattering intact hop flowers.
A new flagship brewery and restaurant recently opened Boston’s Fort Point district, while JC himself plans to head to the UK next month as the keynote speaker for brewers trade expo, BeerX.
2. Side Project Brewing (Missouri) — jumped up from 9th
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Shooting up an impressive 7 places this year, Missouri-based brewer Side Project specialises in barrel-ageing, a growing trend within the craft beer community, and is best-known by its fans for “rustic saisons, wild ales and spirit barrel-aged ales,” according to its website.
Founded by Karen and Cory King in 2014, Side Project sells many of its beers in 75cl format. Latest releases include a series of imperial stouts clocking in at between 14% and 15% ABV.
Hill Farmstead Brewery (Vermont)
Hill Farmstead has held the top spot in Ratebeer’s ranking for an impressive seven consecutive years.
The brewery was established in 2010 by Shaun Hill in Greensboro Bend, Vermont, and is world-renowned due to its exclusivity and small-scale production. Many of its beers, including American pale ales, IPAs, saisons and stouts, regularly reach the top of RateBeer’s consumer rankings.
The most extensive range of Hill Farmstead’s beers is on offer at its own taphouse, which features 6-8 draft lines and limited release bottles, but die-hard fans will need to make a trip to Vermont in order to find a bar serving up drinks from this elite brewery.