The Mtbr Best Beer Guide

Buyer's Guides

Editor’s Note: The Pliny Killer IPA Beer Guide is written by Mtbr founder Francis Cebedo. Francis believes that IPA will save America.

Mtbr is getting a reputation in the bike industry for knowing a little something about beer. And lo and behold, there seems to be good crossover between mountain biking and good beer. Since Mtbr is based in Northern California, we consider ourselves experts (and biased) in IPAs. But that’s obviously because IPA is the best beer in the world and California makes the best IPA.

We have a beer here from Santa Rosa called the Russian River Pliny The Elder. It is one of the best and rarest beers around since it invented the style of floral and fruity IPAs and it’s been rated best IPA in the country for a couple of years now. But the husband and wife owners refuse to raise production (and price) so it has become one of the most coveted beers in the country and on the West Coast.

So this first list of beers is something we call Pliny Killers. A Pliny Killer is a term we give a beer that could potentially be better than Pliny. It could serve as a replacement for the precious nectar when the green label with the red dot cannot be found on any shelf or with any secret handshake. But of course they all fail since no IPA is better than Pliny, but it is good to aspire and it is better than going dry.

Note that unlike its English ancestor, the India Pale Ale which was created to survive the boat trip to India, the American IPA is best drank fresh. A few days old, not a few months old is key so know where your IPA is coming from and when it was brewed. And keep it cold until the time you drink it.

Russian River Blind Pig, Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger

Blind Pig is the single IPA, Elder is the double and Younger is the triple at 11% alcohol content. All three are the best, but the rarest of the trio is the Younger. It is only available for two weeks in February and is never bottled, so the true fans from around the world travel far and wide and wait in line at the brewery for hours for the Younger.

Ballast Point Sculpin

This expensive IPA comes from the San Diego mafia and is one of the best in the category. The best part about it is it has great distribution and is available at many places year round.

Stone Brewing Enjoy By …

This is Stone’s answer to Pliny with its high alcohol content, floral notes, and it tries to counter Pliny’s unfair advantage of freshness. Pliny is so rare that it is usually consumed within a couple weeks of bottling. So Stone brewing puts a date on this beer label and it is distributed only at certain periods and is supposed to be consumed before the mentioned date.

Bell’s Hopslam
Mtbr holds frequent tastings to see how other beers compare to Pliny.

From Michigan, this beer is strong and balanced from start to finish. Using 6 different hops, it delivers with floral, grapefruit action and finishes with honey. It is good but don’t get too hooked, as it is very rare and only available at the beginning of each year.

Three Floyds Dreadnaught IPA

An East Coast Imperial IPA = West Coast IPA = Colorado Pale Ale. In short, this Imperial IPA from Three Floyds has lots of flavor and is balanced and satisfying from start to finish.

Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA

Deschutes is the best ‘bigger’ brewery out there because of beer quality and what they do for the cycling community. But, they have always been lacking in the IPA department. This Fresh Squeezed IPA is a game changer for them, but it is hard to find. Hop Trip or Chasin’ Freshies are good alternatives.

The Alchemist Heady Topper

This is a damn fine beer in a can. It is rare and it is expensive in the black market. It delivers from start to finish and proves that the east coast can make a fine IPA, even though they call it Imperial.

Sante Adairius 831

This is from Santa Cruz and it is one of the best IPAs around. They bottle once in a while but you really have to ride the redwood forests, get a growler of this and hang out at the beach for the full experience.

Alpine Duet IPA

Again, don’t get hooked as this is even more rare than Pliny. But everything Alpine makes is just outstanding and it will bring pure hoppiness to your heart.

Lagunitas IPA, Bear Republic Racer 5, Stone IPA, Dales Pale Ale, Ninkasi Tricerahops, Firestone Double DPA, Avery IPA, Sierra Nevada Hoptimum

You’re in a restaurant looking at the beers on tap. Or you’re at the grocery staring at the six packs. Get any one of these and you’re good.;;;;;;

Next: Peter Tsang’s Beer Guide »

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.

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  • Mike says:

    I like the Stone Enjoy by and the Ninkasi Tricera Hop. Cute pick of all the boys in the tub.

  • HEMIjer says:

    Devils Backbone brewery in VA is a great bike supporter and has an eight point IPA worth trying ood stuff. Always can go to the old reliable which you have to keep stocked in the garage for post ride clean up, Sierra Nevada Torpedo.

  • JB says:

    The AA comment in one of the photo captions is probably wrong. That said, I’m not offended.

  • klurejr says:

    Why is this Josh’s list and the about the author is says Francois???

    • Mtbr says:


      Francis is the one who the entire compilation article is “published by” so it automatically shows his bio at the bottom on every page. There’s an “Editor’s Note” at the beginning of Josh’s guide and an intro on the first page about who our other beer reviewers are for this article. This article has guides written by Francis, Josh and Peter. Sorry for the confusion!

  • Kevin Woodward says:

    Hop Venom FTW! Nice to see 831 on the radar, too.

  • Thomas says:

    I’m from belgium if you like belgian beer you should most def try
    My top 5
    - Grimbergen (Optimo Bruno)
    - Sint Bernardus (abt 12)
    - Kasteelbier (tripple)
    - Westmalle (tripple)
    - Samaranth Urtel

    • Alex says:

      I loved Grimbergen Optimo Bruno when I had it in Amsterdam, but sadly I don’t think it makes it over to the States.

      I would add to that list Chimay White and Tripel Karmeliet – my top 3 Tripels along with Westmalle – and La Trappe Quad.

  • Bearcat Sandor says:

    For those of us who must go gluten-free because of celiac disease or other reasons, i heartily recommend Green’s “Endeavor” beer. They don’t replace the hops with rice flour or some other thing they just filter the hell out of it so it’s safe for us. It’s picey but it tastes like a Guinness and enables me to enjoy a beer once in a while. They also have a blond variety too. Check ‘em out:

  • roger says:

    You don’t know jack about beers! Lagunitas is undrikable, Pliny is over rated! Good thing not everyone has your taste buds!

  • DMFT says:

    What!!?? No mention (until now) of…………..
    Lost Coast – Indica IPA
    Green Flash Brewing – Green Bullet or Palate Wrecker
    Deschutes – Hop Henge Experimental IPA
    Drakes – Hopocalypse or Aromacoma

    Or possibly the most underated brewery & true OG’s
    Mendocino Brewing Co. – Talon

    Ok. The list is now more-complete. Rant-Over!

    Happy Holiday’s Ya’ll!!

  • M. Meteer says:

    I live and ride in South Korea. I find that the best beers are those that you brew yourself! My ‘brew club’ of five brew 5 gallons per week of tastie ales, porters, and stouts.

  • Wilks says:

    I just stumbled on this I think DHF 90 and Southern Tier 2X IPA’s are much better than Sculpin. Not sure why there are so many sculpin fans.

  • Crotchety Old Man says:

    Very nice list put together. Thanks! Now I have some new ones to hunt down. I feign at any mention of any Ninkasi beers. Not a fan one bit. But I agree with lots here about La Cumbre. I wish we got that as well as Santa Fe’s Happy Camper IPA in the Northwet.

    By this point in time Pliny has run its course. It’s overpriced and been overtaken. I’ll take Hop Venom any day rather than pay for the aura of Pliny. Not saying it sucks. There’s just stiff competition in the IIPA realm. That Deschutes Fresh Squeezed is really really tasty as well.

  • J. Green says:

    Ithaca Brewing’s Flower Power, Ithaca, N.Y. Always load up on the way to Windham.

  • Sheryl says:

    oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils with a Ten Fidy topper…

  • Madpixl says:

    Even the Heady Topper boys were said they were thrilled with Ghandi Bot at a race in Vt this summer… But you have to know someone to even get it ouside the brewery… so im not surpised you overlooked it.

  • ndinh says:

    ‘Don’t be a douche’ is right. There are way too many Mr. opinionated I know the best beer-beer geek everywhere I go nowadays. There are tons of great beers and just because you don’t like a certain beer or style doesn’t make it ‘over rated or bad’…i.e. Roger from above. Grow up buddy and keep an open mind and keep it fun.

  • Pope says:

    Come on down to Oklahoma and try some Coop Ale. Several different brews–Native Amber, Horny Toad, Spare Rib, DNR…they’re all good!

  • Shawn says:

    You mean, no Bud? Haha! The Goose Isalnd Bourbon Stout is the best stuff made!

  • Jon says:

    I’m from Philippines, the best beer in the country is San Mig Light

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