The 20 Most Influential Beers of All Time

We asked a panel of experts to crown the real kings of brewing. How many have you tried?


Cantillon Classic Gueuze

From: Brussels, Belgium

Mike Lovullo says: "From the historic lambic brewery Cantillon in Brussels comes the incredibly layered, funky, and acidic gueuze style. This blend of three lambics of different ages (typically one fresh and the other two aged for 1-3 years) is an inspiration to all trying to make any type of sour ale."

  • betorroque

    no San Diego beer mentions??? Shame

    • Patrick

      The only San Diego beer that could reasonably be mentioned as most influential of all time would be something from Stone, and as they are infants in the history of the world it is difficult to position any of their beers as influential in the history of beer at this time.

      That does not mean that awesome beers are not made in San Diego. But quite literally the San Diego beer scene was influenced by the Northern California beer scene that developed throughout the 1970s into the 1980s and survived to boom through the 1990s and beyond.

  • ODS

    Not sure how you can acknowledge Hoegaarden only in the service of propping up Allagash White. AW’s a great beer, but should definitely concede its place in the pantheon to Hoegaarden.

  • Boyle

    Um Founders??????!!! Hello? Bolt Cutter? Reds Rye? Pale Ale? Shorts Beer???!!! Bells Two Hearted?!!! Some great brews in the Mitt that were not mentioned.

    • Boyle

      Oops… Missed “most influential of all-time”… Lol– too much bee already, I guess. ;)

  • cpow

    Re cask ales, Fullers ahead of Youngs is an absolute joke. Literally ask anyone in the UK. Shame!

    That said, nice Samuel Smith’s nod.

    • First We Feast

      @5f32568f5114975fc0dbfc4ecc429f71:disqus both great beers that represent the traditional English bitter. We could argue about which is better, but the point is INFLUENCE, and I’d argue that London Pride has a stronger global pull .

    • Terry Collmann

      You can ask me, and I’ll tell you that today, at any rate, Fuller’s is way ahead. In the past not so much.

  • Zach

    “You could make an argument for almost any of the Ommegang beers being on this list, as the brewery—established by Don Feinberg in Cooperstown, NY in 1997—was the first Belgian-style brewery in America.”

    Um… Allagash, guys.

    • First We Feast

      @f4584f2f0907bbc95427312c28479c5a:disqus you’re right, should read “one of.” But also, I think the point is the Ommegang set up a direct conversation between American brewing and Belgium, far more of a two-way street than most others who were looking at Belgian brews then doing their own thing. Now the reverse is true, Belgian is looking to the U.S. for inspiration, and Ommegang was critical in opening that dialogue.

  • Afterwort

    How is the Taddy Porter the benchmark of the style? Charles Finkel of MDV got Samuel Smith’s to brew a beer that they hadn’t made in years. I’d say Fuller’s London Porter or especially Anchor Porter were far more influential beers, since U.S. brewers revitalized the style. As Michael Jackson once said when a U.S. brewery (Boulder) asked him how to brew a porter, “Beats the hell out of me. Nobody in Britain makes one any more.” And, sorry, I love Ayinger Celebrator, but it was Paulaner Salvator, the original doppelbock, that set the standard.

    • First We Feast

      @afterwort:disqus fair point about Fuller’s and Anchor…clearly given the other places those two show up in the piece, they would be top of a Most Influential Breweries list.

  • Bill Simpson

    Hate to be picky but the first light beer was designed by Dr Joe Owades (not Owedes). A fascinating character I had the pleasure to meet about 20 years ago. Though in his twilight years he was sharp as a new pin. Sadly, while his light beers are still with us in one form or another, he is not.

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  • Mark Johnson

    Not even an honorable mention for Bells – Two Hearted or Amber, specifically? I was drinking Two Hearted in 1991 when 60 Minute IPA wasn’t yet a gleam in Sam Calagione’s eye, and it’s every bit the equal of the Dogfish Head brew. Their Amber, which remains excellent, has been for sale since 1985, which is pretty friggin’ early on in American craft brewing history. I guess my point is Bell’s has been doing it a decade longer and just as well if not better than most of the American “innovators” you mention.

    • Patrick

      Influence is not always driven by stake-posts in time. Nor which actual beer is either objectively or subjectively better.

      The topic as stated being the 20 most influential beers of all time did not really indicate that this was the most influential beers in American Craft Brewing History.

      There are in my humble opinion a great many flaws in the list, but nevertheless it is an interesting topic for discussion. I think 20 most influential of all time would need to take a decidedly different feel. 20 most influential American Craft Beers would be an interesting list to compile and discuss as well, but surely their would be a wide array of opinions that vastly conflict.

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  • Dongle JuJu

    Pity all the so called “experts” were totally drunk when you canvassed them. This list is a joke – and not a funny one. Where’s Bass for instance to name but one seminal ale that your contributors have amnesia regarding? There’s not even 4 beers that would make most zythophiles top 20 list.

    • Patrick

      Pity us heathens and poor dimwits. Onward the zythophiles.

      Now show we were any of the individuals involved in this claimed it to be the definitive mark and end line in discussion of beer in the history of the world.

  • Drinks some

    I find it hard to believe Wiehenstephan (sp) did not make the list. The most influential list does not include a Brewery or their selections that are almost 1000 years old. A beer must be something to survive, and survive with little or no modifications to recipes, for that long.I for one am tired of over hopped over bittered IPA. I like originality, but pumping up American craft because they take an easy Pale Ale style and dump massive hops in it bothers me and it is not original nor drinkable.

  • Tad

    Let’s not forget about Fat Tire and New Belgium Brewing Co. One of (if not) the first brewery in American to introduce Belgium styles beers to American beer drinkers

  • Jordan

    Understanding this is not a list of what’s best, but what is/was most influential, I would make these alterations:
    eliminate Celebrator, Allagash White, Hop Rod Rye and SA Utopias; also eliminate Hitachino Red Rice and Hennepin from the honorable mention…

    add Duvel, North Coast Old Rasputin, Delirium Tremens and Orval to the main list; add Paulaner Salvator and Weihenstephaner Hefe Weiss

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  • txanne

    No mention of Shiner? 1909, fellas. Nice beers, yet I don’t know anyone who thinks the Anchor brews are outstanding.

  • Steve Russell

    Hmmm. I’d look at Martin Cornell’s comments on Zytophile…

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  • cbass

    Blue Moon does not wish to be Allagash White. BM tastes exactly how the brewer intended. & Aventinus is listed, but the Eisbock label is shown. Two totally different beers (botha re good, I just like correct photos for the style being described). Interesting list.

  • madcityscott

    For me personally (and I suspect others as well), Rolling Rock was quite influential as a “gateway” beer. And no Canadian or Mexican beers?

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  • Gustavo Pereira

    No mention of blue Chimay as THE trappiste beer (or best beer EVER)!! Come on… Also, Hoegaarden

    • Ed

      Scrolling this trying to find a mention of Chimay. Thank You Gustavo!

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  • jburger66

    I stumbled upon this, but only got to New Albion.

    But SO right you are…NA was the pre-craft revolution beer of NorCal, before Sierra, before all the Sonoma/Mendo and Bay Area stuff. truly a legend, iconic, tasy, and VERY influential in the West.

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  • Van Carney

    The inclusion of Saison Dupont makes this list legit IMHO.

    However, the blurb failed to mention something very unique about Saison Dupont is that Marc Rosier’s sister is a Microbiologist who cultivated a strain of yeast specifically for the beer which is the cause for it’s characteristic MASSIVE HEAD which is unparalleled in any other beer. The head also helps aerate it, much as aerating a wine improves the flavor, also brings out the flavor in the beer.

    Anyway, I love Saison Dupont and did not know it was almost to be extinct.
    Kudos to Don for helping to make the world a better place!

  • Norm

    You missed Yukon Brew – Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada. Yukon Gold and Yukon Red are my faves.

  • Beer snob

    What about pbr?!?!

  • H20man

    American beers dominate the list? I haven’t even heard of most of the American beers here, and they generally seem to be styles of beer created elsewhere, so I struggle to see how they have been that influential

  • Thomas

    The last place I would have thought about when the word “influential” is used to describe beer is the USA. Yet I find that half or more of the listed beers are from there. Ghaaaaaaay

  • Mark Mendel

    Most influential beer? No Budweiser? Despite how you feel about the taste, this list is completely invalid without it. I’m fairly certain Budweiser is slightly more influential than Blind Pig IPA…….

    • Technical Slip

      Generic beer is definitely in the list, and Budweiser is pretty much the definitive generic beer.

    • usa

      budweiser is dog shit

  • Chili p

    Why is spaten optimator not on this list!?!?!?

  • Simon

    So the only IPA to make the list is an *American* IPA? Srsly?

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  • Stewart Love

    There is only 1 British beer on the list??? Where is Newcastle Brown Ale? Deuchars IPA – the finest beer known to man? Belle Vue Kriek is the classic (and best) fruit beer, which spawned a host of imitators.

    I take it this is an American view. There’s a load of beers on here I’ve never seen or head of. And my 20s was spent in researching this very topic (which is a fancy way of saying I got pissed loads).

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  • The Beer Wrangler

    Very American centric! None of the first Barley wine, IPA, Imperial Stout? No Hoegaarden (first of the revival of Wit bier) . Also no Bud. Influential means influencing brewers and beers, and not just craft beers, and world means not just America!

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  • Tim

    This list is an ode to California at the expense of the great brewing traditions of the East Coast and the Midwest. The author apparently assumes influential is solely progressive. Beer-making is much older and more traditional in the East. Boston Lager kicking the craft beer movement into high gear? Oro de Calabaza renewing interest in wild ales? Yuengling for its aged tradition? Budweiser for its remarkable consistency? DFH’s Midas Touch, the prelude to their ancient ale series?

  • Technical Slip

    Fullers is pretty crap IMO. Love Sierra Nevada, Dogfish Head and Goose Island. My favourite British breweries (I’m a Londoner) are Dark Star, the Kernel, Meantime and a local one, Redemption.

  • TLW

    I agree. This is a poor list.

    If you want to drink a good beer move to Belgium, Netherlands, Germany (including other nations that were a part of it. Ex: Pilsner Urquall is German and is even spelled in German) or Austria.

    Trust me, living in central Europe put all of my American beers to shame. Especially, as one wrote below, the pale ale beers.

  • Dallas McMillan

    Coopers, brewed in Adelaide, South Australia is on my list of the most influential beer

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  • duffman

    duff beer for me
    duff beer for you
    i’ll have a duff
    you have one too

  • Tony Ryan

    Sierra Nevada and Guinness are go-to – whenever in doubt, I will chose either and be satisfied. Pilsner Urquell is solid, but if you’re going to choose a doppelbock, Salvator kicks the living hell out of anything else ending in “or”…Triumphator, Celebrator, etc. And to attend the Salvator Fest, where it flows like water, in Munich was a huge highlight to my years in Germany.

  • Osprey

    Try the Weizenbock from Grimm Brothers in Colorado. It does Aventis justice.

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  • Capt. Morgan

    Really ! What about Budweiser ? The most influential beer of all time.

  • MP

    This list is full of fallacies and historical inaccuracies. It’s all tailored towards the American palate and American sense of beer historicity. It’s garbage.

  • Weihenstephen since 1040

    Some great beers here but some really haven’t been that influential. Where is Bass Pale Ale, Hofbrau Weiss, Diebels Alt, Heineken, Redhook ESB, Deschutes Black Butte Porter, Sam Adams Boston Lager, Fosters or Corona? Hoegaarden should be there in place of Allagash White. Reissdorf Koelsch is a good beer but it’s not even from Cologne proper, how about Fruh instead?

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  • Dbakeca Italia

    this is good

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