The Top 10 Craft Beers With the Most 5-Star Check-Ins of 2022
Presented by Oskar Blues Brewery
This is the list of the year you've all been waiting for—the 10 Beers with the Most Five-Star Check-ins of 2022. For our third post of this Year in Beer campaign, we're taking a look at the top ten beers of the year based on the total number of five-star check-ins*.
But First, Don't Forget to Check Out:
And Now, The Top 10 Craft Beers With the Most 5-Star Check-Ins of 2022!
Yes, that's right, for the first time ever we're not basing this ranking solely on the amount of check-ins. But rather on the amount of five-star check-ins. Whereas last year, you'd see beers like Guinness Draught (which actually has a CRAZY history), Heineken, and Corona Extra at the top of the list, this year you'll see iconic craft beers with the crown.
These are the crème de la crème, cream of the crop, best of the best beers of the year. Just go ahead, whet your appetite, feast your eyes, and prepare your palate for a cornucopia of first-class ales and lagers.
10. Duvel - Duvel Moortgat
Considered a Belgian Strong Golden Ale, Duvel cracks the top ten with 3.7k five-star check-ins in 2022 so far. We like to think of Duvel almost like the epitome of Belgian beer.
Taking ninety days to brew, Duvel requires time, attention, and care. Featuring just pure spring water, barley, aromatic Slovenian and Czech hops, and a Scotland yeast strain originally picked by Victor Moortgat (son of founder Jan-Leonard Moortgat) in the 1920s, Duvel combines unique hop characteristics with a strong malty backbone and slight effervescence.
Make no mistake, at 8.5% ABV, this is a boozy beer. But one with a definitive smoothness that keeps a drinker going back for more. It's hard to find a beer in Belgium that doesn't have a distinct history. And Duvel is one of the greats.
9. Hopslam Ale (2022) - Bell's Brewery
One of Bell's most revered releases, Hopslam's name says it all. Including six different hop varietals on the hot side, Hopslam also gets a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe. All told, Bell's considers the recipe for this beer to have the most complex hopping schedule out of all their beers.
Promising to be pungent, Hopslam delivers huge punches of grapefruit, stone fruit, and floral notes. But don't fear, Bell's knows all about balance. Although pounding you with hops, Hopslam also slaps you in the tonsils with a big malt bill and addition of honey to give the beer the body it needs. The result? A hop-filled wonder that's curiously drinkable at the same time. All at 10% ABV. 🤯
We're not sure how Bell's works this type of wizardry exactly, but that's why we're not surprised to see Hopslam nab just shy of 4k five-star check-ins in 2022 at the time of publication. Boom! Big mic hop…we mean drop.
8. Focal Banger - The Alchemist
One of two beers you'll see from The Alchemist on this list (we bet our year's worth of hop lots that you can guess the other), Focal Banger doesn't quite enjoy the esteem of its bigger brother. Still, this is a distinctive beer in its own right, garnering just over 4k five-star check-ins on Untappd in 2022.
We're guessing it's because this American IPA (which actually ranked third on our list of the 12 Best American IPAs of 2021) eloquently showcases revered Pacific Northwest hops such as Citra and Mosaic.
This beer is a banger through and through.
7. Trappist Westvleteren 12 - Brouwerij De Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren
Considered one of the rarest beers in the world, Trappist Westvleteren 12 (or Westie 12, as it's affectionately called), is brewed by monks once a week to make money for their abbey. Sold only once a month either at the door of the monastery or a no-nonsense tavern across the street, Westie 12 vaulted to the top of any craft beer connoisseur's bucket list simply because of the laundry list of steps and dash of luck you'd need to try a sip from these unmarked bottles.
First, you'll have to call a hotline to make an appointment just to purchase the beer. Afterward, you'll (most likely) need to buy a plane ticket, fly to Belgium, rent a car, drive to a tiny town, and line up in your car at the abbey gate on your chosen date to stuff away your prize. That sense of adventure and the thought that very few people in the world have had the pleasure of tasting this beer have driven Westie 12 to cult stardom.
Which is exactly why the granddaddy of rare beers received just over 4k five-star check-ins (a mere handful more than Focal Banger, in fact) on Untappd in 2022 so far. Also ranked the highest-rated Belgian quad on Untappd in 2021, Westie 12 boasts notes of dried fruit and brown sugar.
This beer is poetry in motion. And if you ever have the chance to taste it in your life, consider yourself lucky.
6. King Julius - Tree House Brewing Company
King for a reason, King Julius has topped one of our other most important lists of the year (besides this one): The 15 Best Double/Imperial IPAs of 2022. In that ranking King Julius won second, bested only by its extra-kettle-hopped and extra-dry-hopped version called King JJJuliuss.
Here, King Julius (without the extra letters) just missed the top five by a mere handful of five-star ratings.
Still, a respectable 4.5k five-star ratings in 2022 means King Julius grabs sixth place. And perhaps most importantly, beats out its brother King JJJuliusss, which isn't on the list at all. You do you, King Julius.
5. Zombie Dust - 3 Floyds Brewing
It's hard to argue with Zombie Dust's undying greatness (see what we did there). Ranked as the number two top American Pale Ale on Untappd in 2022, Zombie Dust is really just pure magic. Pretty heavily hopped for a pale ale, Zombie Dust relentlessly assaults your tastebuds much like an onrushing army of the undead. One thing is for sure: In a Zombie apocalypse, this is the one beer we're grabbing to take with us on the run. Why?
Well, its almost 5k five-star check-ins so far in 2022 should tell you why. The first beer to break our top five, Zombie Dust is a legendary beer in its own right. And will be for years and years to come. Actually, some might call it a beer that never dies. We'll let you make that judgment call.
4. Two Hearted Ale - Bell's Brewery
One of the most revered beers at one of the most revered breweries in the country, Bell's Two Hearted Ale has been crowned the "Best Beer in America" in a survey conducted by Zymurgy Magazine for four years in a row. So it makes sense that it clocks in at number four here with just over 5.8k five-star check-ins.
We think we have a pretty impressive list here, but Zymurgy Magazine's rankings have been running for the past twenty years. The survey asks members to choose up to five of their favorite commercial beers that are available in the U.S. For many years, it was Russian River Brewing Company's Pliny the Elder that took top marks (some writers might call this foreshadowing 😉). But in 2017, Two Hearted bumped off Pliny the Elder for the title of Best Beer in America. And since then, Bell's hasn't looked back.
It's an incredible achievement for Bell's Founder Larry Bell, who started the Michigan-based brewery in the early 1980s with only a 15-gallon soup pot.
The story of Bell's Two Hearted begins with a single hop and a single brewer. In 1992, Bell's brewer Rob Skalla began experimenting with a single-hop recipe. Three years later, he suggested to Larry Bell that the brewery try its hand at making an all-Centennial IPA.
At the time, Centennial hops had started to pick up some steam. Officially recognized as a hop in 1989 and named Centennial after the 100th birthday of Washington State, these Pacific Northwest hops became known for their aromatic pine, citrus, and floral notes.
Bell's officially brewed the first batch of Two Hearted in 1997, but only as a winter seasonal. It'd take six more years before Two Hearted became a year-round offering.
By 2004, John Mallett had taken over as Bell's brewmaster (he officially came to Bell's in 2001). And during his two-decade tenure, Mallett and his brewing team perfected Two Hearted.
Named after the Two Hearted River in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Bell's Two Hearted has wound its way into the hearts of consumers across the country.
Packed with hop aromas from grapefruit to pine and brewed with 100 percent Centennial hops originating from the Pacific Northwest, Two Hearted is pure beer gold.
Today, the current version of Two Hearted ranks as Bell's best-seller and it's clear to see and taste why this all-Centennial America IPA should be on any beer lover's list of beers to try before they die.
3. Traditional Lager - Yuengling Brewery
The only beer that you'll see on this list that also made last year's ranking, Yuengling's Traditional Lager holds a special place in many American beer drinkers' hearts. Especially those from the Northeast. This beer recorded just over 8.5k five-star rankings this year, telling us that this beer's rich amber color and subtly sweet, roasted caramel notes strike a chord. Traditional Lager is an OG lager that deserves to be a top checked-in beer.
2. Heady Topper - The Alchemist
No surprise here, but The Alchemist is the only brewery with beers to nab two places in this top ten list. (Plus, The Alchemist ranked as the fifth brewery with the most five-star check-ins in 2022.) But Heady Topper beats out its little brother with just a hair shy of 10k five-star check-ins at the time of publication.
John and Jen Kimmich opened The Alchemist Pub and Brewery in Waterbury, VT, with only about four or five rotating beers, including Heady Topper. John brewed the now-infamous double IPA just two months after opening. But the beer didn't take off right away. At the time, The Alchemist thrived locally, with very little national presence. But everything changed when Tropical Storm Irene caused a flood that put the pub out of business in August 2011.
That's when John turned all of his attention to Heady Topper, canning the now-iconic double IPA right after the flood in The Alchemist's production space. It was one of his smartest moves.
Arguably, this beer catapulted The Alchemist into craft brewing lore. Most likely, if you mention The Alchemist, it's followed quickly by the words "Heady Topper." Today, it's one of the most famous breweries in the world. And Heady Topper is one of the most famous beers.
And for good reason.
An all-American beer, Heady Topper is a hoppy, American double IPA clocking in at 8% ABV. If you read the can, it instructs the drinker to consume the dank goodness straight from aluminum in order to preserve the flavor.
Which meant that for the first eight years you could only find Heady Topper on draft at The Alchemists' 7-bbl brewpub in Vermont. And even after that, The Alchemist only let a set number of cases make its way to a small number of bars and bottle shops in the area. The limited distribution ensured freshness, but also helped increase the beer's rarity and created its "unicorn" status.
In 2011, The Alchemist built a cannery, a 15-bbl brewery with an ACS automated Cask canning line to produce and package the flagship IPA. And eventually John decided to distribute Heady Topper outside of Vermont.
Today, Heady Topper is much more readily available, but it is still one of those life-changing beers that every craft beer lover should drink at least once in their lives.
And it appears that many of you have!
1. Pliny the Elder - Russian River Brewing Company
Well, we can't say we're surprised. With 10.6k five-star check-ins, Pliny the Elder dominated. This beer has dominated this list. And this beer has just overall dominated American craft beer since the late '90s.
During 1997, Korbel Champagne Cellars established Russian River Brewing Company. Six years later, Korbel left the beer business, handing over the brand and recipes to the head brewer—and previously the initial sole employee—Vinnie Cilurzo. Cilurzo and his wife Natalie Cilurzo have built Russian River into one of the most revered breweries in the country today.
The duo helped pioneer the entire double IPA style, for gosh sakes! And while Pliny the Younger may be considered one of the rarest beers in the world, it's Pliny the Elder that truly started it all.
According to legend, Vinnie brewed the world's first commercially available double IPA back in the mid-90s when he worked at Blind Pig Brewing and brought the recipe with him to Russian River in Santa Rosa.
Pliny the Elder gets its name from Pliny, a man who lived during the first century, 23 to 79 A.D. According to brewing history, Pliny and several others are said to have invented the botanical name Lupus Salictarius, aka hops.
And speaking of hops…
Elder is a classic double IPA, well balanced with pine, resin, and citrus hop aromas with a lingering, dry finish. This trendsetting imperial IPA is slightly bitter with an aroma of floral hops, citrus, and pine; this staple beer is best enjoyed fresh and is brewed in limited quantities.
Setting the standard for double IPAs, Pliny the Elder has won countless awards and continues to be the brewery's most popular beer, making it the perfect 510mL bottle to enjoy on National Beer Day.
That is, if you can get your hands on one.
Stay tuned for our next post as we dive into the regions with the most check-ins in 2022.
What was your top brewery this year? Let us know in the comments below!
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*Statistics as of 12/9/22