Just in time for San Francisco Beer Week 2013, the beer nerds over at First We Feast have rounded up a panel of discerning brewers, beer distributors, journalists and other beer industry professionals to rank the Top 20 Most Influential Beers of all time. Local beer historians probably won't be surprised to see Anchor Steam made the list (the beer has been credited with kicking off the craft beer movement in America more times that we care to google search for). But out of 20 important beers from all over the world, the Bay Area can claim six of them as our own.
As the predecessor to the immensely popular Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger IPA's that routinely sells out crowds at Beer Week events, Russian River Brewing's Blind Pig IPA made the unranked list. Blind Pig's mountains of hoppy bitterness were originally a way to compensate for outdated brewing equipment but became the benchmark for bitter IPAs the world over. Speaking of hoppy IPAs, Bear Republic's Hop Rod Rye gets a nod for using bitter and spicy rye malt, although we tend to see their more readily drinkable Racer 5 IPA on taps around town.
New Albion Brewing Company's sadly long-gone pale ale gets credit for influencing the style later popularized by Sierra Nevada's classic pale ale — which also made the list. While Sierra comes from up in Chico, we're going to go ahead and claim it as our own.
Rounding out the Bay Area's sextet of influential beers are two that come out of Anchor Brewing's Potrero Hill home: the classic and Steam Beer, notable for the Fritz Maytag story as much as its ubiquity around these parts. Anchor's Old Foghorn barley wine also gets credit for popularizing a lesser-known English style stateside.
As for the rest of the world's beers, including "Generic Lager," you can pop over to First We Feast's slideshow.