The Top 10 Craft Breweries With the Most 5-Star Check-Ins of 2023
We're ending this year's Delicious Year in Beer with a big bang, revealing the top ten craft breweries with the most number of five-star check-ins in 2023. Which breweries did you all rate the highest this year the most often?
We'll admit that these rankings may not blow your head off; they include some of the most iconic, influential breweries in the country. But we gotta give props to the places that continue to rate highly on Untappd year after year along with a couple of newcomers to these rankings this year.
But first, don't forget to read:
Let's wrap up our season of Delicious Year in Beer by presenting the top ten craft breweries of 2023 based on the most 5-star check-ins globally.
10. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 🇺🇸
Slipping two spots to number ten, Sierra Nevada celebrated almost forty years since the birth of its iconic Sierra Nevada Pale Ale this year. Sierra Nevada Co-Founder Ken Grossman didn't necessarily open a brewery to set the world on fire. He just wanted to make beer that Americans had never tasted before. When Sierra Nevada opened in 1984, light lagers reigned supreme. Grossman's decidedly bitter pale ale blew people's minds and palates. While many may think Grossman opened Sierra Nevada with his Pale Ale, he actually brewed five barrels of stout first. But Pale Ale stuck, becoming one of the most iconic beers in America's history. This year, Sierra Nevada started the inaugural National Hazy IPA Day, a nod to the brewery's top-selling Hazy Little Thing (which debuted two new limited-edition seasonals—Crisp Little Thing and Tropical Little Thing) and America's love of all things murky.
9. Yuengling Brewery 🇺🇸
Maintaining its ninth-place spot from last year, Yuengling Brewery, the oldest brewery in America, remains a favorite. The largest craft brewery in the country, according to the Brewers Association's Annual Craft Brewing Industry Production Report, has quite a history, which could be why so many people resonate with it.
Did you know: Yuengling served its Lord Chesterfield Ale at the very first Great American Beer Festival in Boulder, CO, in 1982? And Yuengling Lager has become a staple for many lager drinkers, especially in the Northeast.
8. 3 Floyds Brewing 🇺🇸
A newcomer to this list, 3 Floyds certainly isn't a newcomer to fame and flash.
Humbly founded in 1996 by Nick Floyd, 3 Floyds earns a spot on this list for making a beer that inspired an entire festival. Dark Lord made waves in American craft beer as a revolutionary Russian imperial stout and a beer that often broke the internet. Yes, we're talking about all those $500+ beer trades you could find on the interwebs for Dark Lord variants. But hey, that's as much a devilish part of craft beer culture as waiting in line for an Other Half release. The beer and the festival's cult-like following have inspired countless similar release days.
But that's not actually the one that ended up on Untappd's list of the beers with the most five-star check-ins in 2023.
No, that accolade went to Zombie Dust, a beer revolutionary when first released in 2010 for showcasing Citra. And only Citra, a now well-recognized hop that had just come on the market a mere three years earlier.
This SMaSH American pale ale captured the juicy, citrusy flavor profile of Citra perfectly. Today, thousands of beers have showcased Citra, but Zombie Dust is like one of the OGs.
At only 6.2% ABV and 50 IBUs, Zombie Dust gained popularity because it's just a damn-well-made beer that doesn't overload your palate with dankness but instead brightens it with orange, tangerine, and clementine. And at a time when people started reaching higher and higher IBU heights, Zombie Dust stood out like the working person's beer—nothing too fancy, but everything just right.
It's great to see this classic continue to dominate and for 3 Floyds to appear on Untappd's Year in Beer rankings in 2023.
7. Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. 🇺🇸
Keeping its seventh-place finish from 2022, Toppling Goliath certainly deserves its place in these rankings. The brewery's Assassin With Coconut, Pecan, and Vanilla (2023) ranks in the top ten on Untappd's All-Time Top-Rate Imperial Pastry Stouts and Toppling Goliath's groundbreaking Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout (and many variants) ranks very highly on Untappd's All-Time Top-Rated Imperial Stouts. After all, many consider the imperial stout one of the rarest beers in the world because it's so hard to nab a bottle—Toppling Goliath only releases 300 to 400 bottles a year.
Many of the other breweries on this list crush thanks to their hoppy stuff, but Toppling Goliath dominates the dark. (Although we admit, Pseudo Sue is one of our favorite American pale ales.)
It certainly makes sense to see this Decorah, IA-based brewery keep its high-ranking status as a brewery with some of the most five-star rankings in 2023.
6. Samuel Adams 🇺🇸
Another brewery that stayed put on this ranking list in 2023, Samuel Adams just missed out on the top five for a second year straight. The second biggest craft brewery in the country, according to the Brewers Association's Annual Craft Brewing Industry Production Report, Samuel Adams is also one of the most iconic.
In 1984, Jim Koch, co-founder of The Boston Beer Company, discovered his great-great grandfather's recipe for Louis Koch Lager in his father's attic. The Harvard graduate with three degrees began brewing what is now known as Samuel Adams Boston Lager in his kitchen.
The decision could have been seen as a risk. After all, at the time, Koch had a cushy job in consulting, making a nice income and flying first class. "But it was extremely dangerous because it had a high chance of thirty years later waking up going, this is all I did with my life? S**t, I wasted my life," said Koch during a fireside chat with Next Glass. "That's dangerous. I didn't want to take that danger. To me, the bigger danger was not doing it, looking back and going, s**t, I'm a sixth-generation brewer, I could have started a craft brewery, and been a part of a great thing, and I didn't do it. I have a different mentality about what's risky and dangerous and what's scary. Scary is okay."
Continually pushing boundaries whether that's through remastering Koch's own Boston Lager this year, brewing the gold-medal-winning non-alcoholic New England-style IPA Just the Haze, or earning a spot with its Octoberfest on the list of Untappd's top ten beers with the most five-star check-ins in 2023, Samuel Adams will continue to be a revolutionary brewery through and through.
5. The Alchemist 🇺🇸
The OG of hazies, The Alchemist keeps its equilibrium, moving neither up nor down in these rankings for 2023. Retaining fifth place, The Alchemist is no stranger to best lists. The revered Heady Topper ranked second this year on Untappd's list of top ten beers with the most five-star check-ins while its little brother Focal Banger ended up in sixth.
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 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 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, The Alchemist is one of the most famous breweries in the world. And Heady Topper is one of the most famous beers.
4. Side Project Brewing 🇺🇸
Another first-timer in these rankings, Side Project slides into fourth place on the back of its impeccably rated imperial stouts. For instance, Beer : Barrel : Time. Founder Cory King loves brewing stouts. So once a year, the Missouri-based brewery pays homage to the barrel-aged stout through its series Beer : Barrel : Time—three things they believe each stout needs.
Instead of adding adjuncts, King and his team use those three things mentioned above to tease out any flavors—chocolate, coffee, vanilla, etc.—choosing blends from, to date, twenty-two different imperial stouts hanging out in various thoughtfully chosen barrels.
Each year stacks barrels like a Mark McGwire baseball card lists stats.
Which is probably why, when you look at Untappd's All-Time Highest-Rated list, you find many variations of this imperial stout.
But you'll also find DM (Blend #1) and O.W.K. (2018), a BA stout King created to celebrate his son, Owen King. The beer sat in a fifteen-year-old Willett Family Estate Bourbon barrel for fifteen months before resting on Ugandan Vanilla Beans. This was a once-in-a-lifetime beer.
We get on both knees and bow down to this king of breweries.
3. Other Half Brewing Co. 🇺🇸
Moving up one spot to third this year, Other Half Brewing Co. continues to pinball around the top five, claiming the number two spot in 2021, three spot in 2020, and five spot in 2019. What hasn't changed is the Untappd community's devout love of the Brooklyn-based brewery.
In 2014, Other Half Brewing co-founders Sam Richardson, Matt Monahan, and Andrew Burman tapped into something rarely seen. In their then-tiny, old building underneath an overpass in Gowanus, Brooklyn, the trio pumped out one-off IPA after one-off IPA. Beer geeks lined the cracked sidewalks each weekend just to get their hands on these here-today, gone-tomorrow hop-heavy beers.
The brewery almost single-handedly started what we know as line culture today. And while lining up for releases has become a thing of the past, Other Half's penchant for innovation still amazes us.
This is a timeless brewery destined to be legendary. In fact, Other Half's Triple Citra Chroma Daydream W/ Trillium Hops ranks as one of the all-time highest-rated hazies on Untappd.
Although Other Half has since expanded to eight locations across two states and Washington, D.C., the brewery's Brooklyn roots with folks lining up around the block for a 4-pack will forever cement Other Half as a pioneer in American craft beer.
The only thing that has eluded Other Half over the years is finally claiming that number one spot. Will 2024 be the year? Only time will tell.
2. Russian River Brewing Company 🇺🇸
Inching its way closer and closer to the crown, Russian River moves up one spot from three to two in 2023. We're not surprised one of the most iconic breweries in the country snags so many five-star check-ins on Untappd.
After all, Pliny the Elder ranks as the number one beer with the most five-star check-ins on Untappd in 2023. 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 invented the botanical name Lupus Salictarius, aka hops.
Brewed with Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ, and Simcoe hops, Pliny the 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 a bouquet of floral hops, citrus, and pine. Brewed in limited quantities, Pliny the Elder is best enjoyed fresh.
Of course, the beer's younger coveted cousin, Pliny the Younger, also makes the top ten list of beers with the most five-star check-ins. Hop Culture Senior Content Editor Grace Weitz and her dad drove up to Windsor for the release this year, reporting why this triple IPA is indeed one of the rarest and best beers in the world.
1. Tree House Brewing Co. 🇺🇸
Well, well, well, fancy meeting you here once again in the number one spot. For the third year in a row, Tree House wins the gold medal, sits on the throne, and places first. However you write it, Tree House tops 'em all. And by a wide margin, too, with over double the amount of five-star check-ins than the next closest rival in second.
When four friends—Nate Lanier, Damien Goudreau, Dean Rohan, and Jonathan Weisbach—started homebrewing in a Massachusetts barn, they probably couldn't imagine they would go on to make some of the most sought-after beers in the country.
Two of Tree Houses' hazies—Gggreennn! and Aaalterrr Ego—rank first and third respectively on the list of Untappd's All-Time Top-Rated New England/Hazy IPAs. While both King JJJuliusss and King Julius nab spots on Untappd's hierarchy of the beers with the most five-star check-ins in 2023.
Since opening in 2011 in a small red barn in Brimfield, MA, Tree House has rooted itself in American craft beer culture.
In addition to expanding to a farm in Woodstock, CT, and three breweries in Deerfield, Sandwich, and Tewksbury, MA, Tree House recently announced its first location outside of New England, a taproom opening in Saratoga Springs, NY, in 2024. Without a doubt, Tree House is one of the best breweries in the entire country.
What was your top brewery this year? Let us know in the comments below!
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