Thursday, May 26, 2011

20 Down, 0 To Go!

Posted by: Tyler Rippeteau

Aug. 15, 2011

I started this blog way back in January of this year.  Now, about 7 months, 40 posts and 20 American Double IPAs later, I have reached my goal - to drink and review the Top 20 Most Reviewed Beers on Beer Advocate.  For any of you who are active reviewers on BA and happen to be as much of a beer nerd as I am, you can understand why the little blue check marks in the picture to the right make me happy.

That, by the way, is what the list looked like right after I completed my last review - AleSmith YuleSmith (Summer).  The list wasn't always in the same order, there were some changes in the rankings along the way, but all 20 beers on the original list remained there for the duration of my project and I am grateful for that.

The original list had the 20 beers ranked in this order:

1.   90 Minute IPA - Dogfish Head
2.   Stone Ruination - Stone Brewing
3.   Bell's Hopslam - Bell's Brewery
4.   Pliny the Elder - Russian River
5.   Hop Wallup - Victory
6.   120 Minute IPA - Dogfish Head
7.   Maharaja - Avery Brewing
8.   Dreadnaught IPA - Three Floyds
9.   Hercules Double IPA - Great Divide
10. Hop Stoopid - Lagunitas
11. Burton Baton - Dogfish Head
12. Double Simcoe IPA - Weyerbacher Brewing
13. Maximus - Lagunitas
14. Gordon Ale - Oskar Blues
15. Unearthly - Southern Tier
16. Founders Devil Dancer - Founders
17. YuleSmith (Summer) - AleSmith
18. Double Dog Double Pale Ale - Flying Dog
19. Hopsickle Imperial IPA - Moylan's Brewery
20. Founder's Double Trouble - Founders

Below is what the list looks like today.  You'll notice that the biggest mover was Founders Double Trouble going from 20th all the way up to 12th.  It is a seasonal release from Founders that can be difficult to track down, but this past winter when it was released around the same time as Founders super-popular Kentucky Breakfast Stout the Double Trouble got a decent boost as the best Founders beer that you were allowed to buy more than two bottles of at the liquor store.

The only other real significant move was AleSmith YuleSmith.  It dropped from 17th down to 20th.  Sure, it is a seasonal beer that was out of season for most of the duration of this project, but I was surprised that once it was released in July it didn't jump back up.  At this point, it seems to be a likely candidate for getting knocked out of the Top 20 since this year's batch is starting to dry up in the few states it is distributed in and it's only 15 reviews ahead of the number 21 spot - Smuttynose's Big A IPA - a year-round release. 

1.   90 Minute IPA - Dogfish Head
2.   Stone Ruination - Stone Brewing
3.   Bell's Hopslam - Bell's Brewery
4.   Pliny the Elder - Russian River (Will need some help finding this one for sure)
5.   Hop Wallup - Victory

6.   120 Minute IPA - Dogfish Head
7.   Maharaja - Avery Brewing
8.   Hop Stoopid - Lagunitas
9.   Dreadnaught IPA - Three Floyds
10. Hercules Double IPA - Great Divide
11. Burton Baton - Dogfish Head

12. Founders Double Trouble - Founders
13. Double Simcoe IPA - Weyerbacher Brewing
14. Maximus - Lagunitas
15. G'Knight Ale (Formerly Gordon Ale) - Oskar Blues

16. Unearthly - Southern Tier
17. Founders Devil Dancer - Founders18. Double Dog Double Pale Ale - Flying Dog
19. Hopsickle Imperial IPA - Moylan's Brewery
20. YuleSmith (Summer) - AleSmith

I did not reach my goal of finishing this project before I moved to Boulder, but I did get pretty close - only reviewing one beer here in Colorado.

By the way, some of the other stats from this project:

10 beers were distributed year-round in Chicago and I had no problem getting my hands on them, they were:

Dogfish Head 90 Minute
Stone Ruination
Victory Hop Wallop
Lagunitas Hop Stoopid
Lagunitas Maximus
Three Floyds Dreadnaught
Great Divide Hercules
Southern Tier Unearthly
Flying Dog Double Dog Double Pale Ale
Moylan's Hopsickle

7 Beers were seasonal or only made a few times a year and I had to wait for them:

Bell's Hopslam
Dogfish Head 120 Minute
Dogfish Head Burton Baton
Founders Double Trouble
Founders Devil Dancer
Avery Maharaja
AleSmith YuleSmith (Summer)

4 Beers were not distributed to Illinois at all:

Russian River Pliny the Elder
Oskar Blues G'Knight Ale
AleSmith YuleSmith
Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA

I travelled to get the G'Knight and the Russian River.  Oddly, I now live a half an hour away from the Oskar Blues brewery, but I ended up trying it for the first time in Nashville, Tennessee over the winter.  The Russian River I had for the first time when visiting Estes Park, Colorado before I moved to the state.

The Double Simcoe and the YuleSmith I got in trades.  Thanks to nevins and ren over at Beer Advocate for being great traders and coming though for me.

In addition to having to travel and trade for some of these beers I almost missed out on two of them even though they were distributed in Illinois.  The Dogfish 120 Minute IPA was an exceptionally rare beer this year.  After not producing it for quite some time Sam and the guys over in Milton, DE finally put together a small batch of it, but demand was very high and supply extremely low.  My former roommate worked at one of the biggest Whole Foods in Illinois and his store only got 8 beers.  One of which he was able to snag for me for $12 only because a customer who was on the waiting list for it failed to show up.  I later managed to get spoiled with two bottles at my local hang-out in Evanston - and that was 25% of their supply.

The other tough one was Founders Devil Dancer, which oddly was released on the same day.  I miscalculated how much of it would be available and I focused all my efforts on finding the 120.  As it turned out, however, while liquor stores were only allowing one bottle per customer of the 120 Minute, they were only allowing two Devil Dancers.  After I finally got the Dogfish I turned my attention towards the Founders offering and realized quickly that I might have screwed up big time.  None of my regular bars or liquor stores had it by the time I got around to searching for it.  I then proceeded to do a ton of research and make about 25 phone calls before I was able to find a full 4-pack.  At least it was full until Dan, my brother-in-law agreed to drive me 30 minutes to go pick it up.  As a new DIPA enthusiast, his fee was one of the four bottles.  Thanks Dan!

Speaking of thanks, I had to rely on a lot of help from several people and they all deserve a big round of applause: Emily, Dan, nevins, ren, Robb from Poppy's Pizza in Estes Park, Kyle and Phil from Prairie Moon in Evanston, Carlos at Fischman's, Beer Advocate, r/beer and all of you who have read the blog, especially those who commented on the site.  It has been a blast.  We're not quite done yet though, there will be a 20 Beers in 20 Nights Awards posting for the DIPA Project along with rankings.  Not 100% sure when, but it's coming soon.


  1. That's a pretty healthy DIPA list. I've had most of them, but would gladly return to each any day. Good idea with the challenge!

  2. Thanks Rob, what have you not had yet from the list? Maybe I can get my hands on some and we can work out a trade.