This has been zipping around the internets, but I thought I'd throw it out for discussion. In their most recent issue, Beer West has released their "best of" list. They've adopted the idiosyncratic approach of advocacy rating: "We went behind the scenes to look at the history, people, and influence the beer or place has had on the industry as well as their community." I'm reminded of Derek Avent's best breweries of Oregon list a couple years ago--when he selected Block 15. Since any system subjective, highlighting the lesser-known is as valid a criteria as any. (Though that begs the question: why is Vinnie Cilurzo the best brewer? He's about as unknown as the New York Yankees.)
Their Big Five
1. Best Brewery: Prodigal Son
2. Best Brewer: Vinnie Cilurzo, Russian River
3. Best City: San Francisco
4. Best Pub: Beveridge Place, Seattle
5. Best Beer: Bridge Creek Pilsner, Silver Moon
There are gobs of other awards, including a nod to the brewery deepest in the boonies, which goes to Ted Sobel's Brewers Union. Go have a look. I have no real complaints, except that in a list of obscure top fives, an underappreciated brewer would have been nice.