With 2020 just around the corner, we’re about to get a whole bunch of lists about the best things of this dwindling decade. Well, here’s one: Paste Magazine rated the 50 best American breweries of the 2010s, and two Austin breweries have scored high on it.
Considering the sheer number of breweries that have come online this decade alone, that’s not an inconsiderable honor. Today, there are more than 7,000 breweries across the country, according to the Brewers Association.
The ABGB — which was named one of the best brewpubs in the U.S. for three years running at the Great American Beer Festival — is number 11 on the Paste list that published Tuesday. And at number 5 is Jester King Brewery, the farmhouse brewery in the Texas Hill Country that has scored a number of accolades, too, for its approach toward mixed culture fermentation.
Paste cited the ABGB’s skill at making lagers as a big reason why the South Austin brewpub can count itself among some of the best American breweries. It’s those lagers that brought the ABGB several wins at GABF from 2016 to 2018.
"You are dealing with a brewery whose grasp over German lager-making is on an entirely different level. To achieve one gold medal in a classic style like German pilsner is an achievement that most brewers strive for over the course of their entire careers," Paste’s Jim Vorel writes. The ABGB "made the best pilsner across three different pilsner substyles, plus a bonus gold in helles, and did it in only three years of entering the competition."
>> RELATED: How the ABGB became one of the best brewpubs in the country
Jester King is among the top five on Paste’s list because of what it has done to introduce American beer drinkers to a very different sort of barrel-aged beer than, say, Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout, according to Vorel, producing tart, funky wonders in the style of Belgian gueuze and other Old World offerings.
"Jester King went on to become perhaps the most generally outstanding and sought-after of all the U.S. wild ale specialists, inspiring countless other breweries to look beyond the clean-fermenting world of American ale yeast," he says. "Their traditional ales were flawless, but at the same time, Jester King forged ahead with American ingenuity, pushing the limits of aspects like ’how much fruit can we stick in a barrel?’ in the creation of all-time classics such as Atrial Rubicite."
Above Jester King on the Paste list are similarly venerated breweries such as Maine’s Allagash and Massachusetts’ Tree House Brewing, the latter of which is known for bringing the hazy IPA to prominence.
And number one is California’s Firestone Walker, which "has the unique distinction of having a top-tier example of nearly every popular style," Vorel writes.