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Craft beer is everywhere, but craft beer bars are a bit harder find
America’s Best Craft Beer Bars
Craft beer is everywhere, but craft beer bars are a bit harder find.
#11 The Malt House Tavern, Madison
They bill themselves as the best beer bar in Madison, and Beer Advocate gives The Malt House its coveted “World Class” rating. With 18 beers on tap and 150 more in bottles, it’s pretty easy to see why locals can’t get enough of this place.
#10 The Bulldog, New Orleans
With 50 beers on tap, over a hundred in bottles, and a $5,000 dishwasher designed specifically for cleaning beer glasses, this Big Easy favorite draws a crowds of college kids and beer aficionados alike.
#9 Great Lost Bar, Portland
A local favorite that’s practically a landmark, the Great Lost Bar has 69 taps, mostly craft beers of the Northeast. A whopping 15 of their beers come from local Maine breweries.
#8 Bukowski Tavern, Boston
In a town that loves beer, you’ve got to stand out to succeed. Bukowski Tavern, named for the late, notoriously surly poet, maybe not be the friendliest bar in Boston, but with 120 beers to choose from (and many of them local craft brews) they don’t have to win any congeniality votes.
#7 Palm Tavern, Milwaukee
You won’t find any Miller Lite here. They’ve got 25 taps and 150 bottles to choose from, but their big draw is their selection of rare, seasonal craft brews, like Canadian Breakfast Stout.
#6 Spuyten Duyvil, Brooklyn
New York Magazine raves that “no bar in the city pays more loving and thorough homage to beer.” Spuyten Duyvil offers a long list of carefully selected, hard-to-find brews, specifically Belgian brews broken down by region — Flemish and Wallonian — and by type, with spontaneously fermented lambics a specialty.
#5 Draught House, Austin
It’s hard to keep a bar open for even a month in pub-saturated Austin, but the Draught House has been serving beer for 45 years. That’s probably because they truly love the stuff. With hundreds of crafts in bottles and on tap, plus a $3 special on local craft beer on Thursdays, Draught House might just make it another 45 years or more.
#4 Blind Tiger, New York
Time Out New York says it all: “Long before craft entered the lexicon, there was Blind Tiger, one of the OGs of the New York beer scene.” The draught list is as extensive as it is impressive and features hard-to-find favorites like Kuhnhenn Lonnie Kuhnie.
#3 The Brewer’s Art, Baltimore
In 2008, Esquire named The Brewer’s Art the “Best Bar in America.” The bar itself is two floors devoted to the love of beer, including their own popular Belgian stout, a local favorite called Ozzy.
#2 Monk’s Café, Philadelphia
Monk’s loves their Belgians, and it shows. They’ve got the finest selection of Belgian beers on tap in America. So fine, in fact, that they were semifinalists for a James Beard Award in 2013.
#1 Father’s Office, Los Angeles
Father’s Office is named for the first place the owner tasted great beer; now it’s a hotspot for beer lovers from all over the world. The bar was founded in 1953, adopted craft brews in the ‘70s, and has been a trendsetter in the industry ever since. (It is also the home of one of the Office Burger, one of the most famous burgers in America, and justly so.)
America's Best Airport Beer Bars
At this taproom you can tempt fate with an Edmund Fitzgerald, a nutty, storm-cloud-black porter named for the famous wrecked ship. Or, for fainter of heart but braver of palate, a fiery Commodore Perry IPA, brewed in honor of the War of 1812's Hero of Lake Erie.
Best craft beer breweries in America
Boulevard Brewing, Kansas City, MO
The biggest star right now in the American craft beer scene and currently the largest speciality brewer in the Midwest, Boulevard has been cranking out top-quality brews since 1989. The Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale carries legendary status among the country&rsquos tap fiends, thanks to its fruity nose, dominated by grapefruit, and its spicy yet dry finish. The seasonal Irish ale, with six roasted barley and pale malts, is also a star when you can find it, while the 80-Acre Hoppy Wheat, a hybrid IPA and wheat beer, is great in a bottle, but at its best when found on draft. Other drops to look out for include the full-bodied and bittersweet Long Strange Tripel, the KC Pils and the Bully Porter.
Ballast Point, San Diego, CA
Ballast Point&rsquos Big Eye IPA can be found in liquor stores nationwide, but it&rsquos not the big kahuna from this brilliant San Diego brewery. That honor is shared among a trio of seasonal brews that get the most growler traffic at the site: the punchy, peppery Habanero Sculpin IPA the hoppy Dorado Double IPA and the Madras curry&ndashboosted Indra Kunindra Curry Export Stout. For something a little straighter, the classic Longfin lager is a popular California favorite, as is the Wahoo white and the original pale ale that kick-started the company in 1996. Ballast Point also boasts two of the top reds in the country&mdashthe Piper Down Scottish Ale and the Tongue Buckler Imperial Red&mdashand has in recent years been distilling top-shelf spirits and pushing out a kick-ass Bloody Mary mix.
Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR
At this brilliant Portland brewery, you&rsquoll find nine year-round beers&mdashhighlighted by the Chainbreaker White IPA, Cinder Cone Red, Deschutes River Ale and Pine Mountain Pilsner&mdashalongside a range of seasonal ales, reserves and collaborations. It&rsquos the latter that you want to get your hands on. A recent collaboration saw Deschutes team with Chicago&rsquos Goose Island to create the Class of &rsquo88 Belgian Style Ale, which featured Michigan riesling and Oregon pinot noir grapes aged with whole flower hops and pilsner malt in Muscat casks.
Rahr & Sons, Fort Worth, TX
This brewery&rsquos popularity has skyrocketed in the last four years, but you probably wouldn&rsquot have noticed if you don&rsquot live in Texas: Rahr&rsquos beer is rarely found outside the Lone Star state. Each year, expect about 20 brews from Rahr, including standouts such as the ever-popular Texas Red, Ugly Pug Dark Lager, Buffalo Butt Amber Lager, Stormcloud IPA and Rahr&rsquos Blonde. In the seasonal range, the Snowmageddon Oatmeal Stout pays tribute to the great brewery roof collapse of 2010 (as depicted on the label), while the La Grange Farmhouse Ale&mdashwith Saaz hops&ndashdriven aromas of toasted fruit&mdashis an exceptional example of the American Saison&ndashstyle that&rsquos roaring across the country. The Pecker Wrecker Imperial Pilsner is also a winner.
Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY
The Ommegang Hennepin Farmhouse Saison is a prime example of how American craft brewers continue to produce their own unique takes on classic beer styles without destroying the heritage on which they were built. This beer is full-bodied yet crisp, spicy yet refreshing. Other standouts from Ommegang&rsquos regular stable include the Gnomegang (yes, with gnomes on the bottle) Blonde Ale, the Rare Vos Amber Ale, the Witte Wheat Ale, Three Philosophers Quadrupel Ale and the Hope House Belgian-style Pale Ale. Annually, expect a few limited edition brews from this picturesque New York state brewery.
Modern Times, San Diego, CA
This crowdfunded brewery, founded by Jacob McKean&mdashformerly of San Diego&rsquos famous Stone Brewing&mdashcertainly is brewing for the people. Unlike some other San Diego breweries, here the IPA is not the only king: Instead it&rsquos also about wheats, saisons, stouts and a notable Belgian strong ale. Most of the range comes canned, but don&rsquot forget to bring your growler, because Modern Times is at its best on draft.
Sun King, Indianapolis, IN
Sun King says they have produced 173 different beers in their history, which isn&rsquot bad at all for a small Indianapolis producer. Their three regular beers&mdashSunlight Cream Ale, Wee Mac Scottish-Style Ale and Osiris Pale Ale&mdashintroduce many Midwest drinkers to their brewery, and once they get a taste, they uncover top reserve, seasonal and speciality drops. On the seasonal list, things get quirky with releases like the Popcorn Pilsner, which has Indiana-grown Riehle&rsquos Select popcorn added to Sun King&rsquos German-style pilsner recipe. Then there&rsquos the "Cream Dream Series," a range of large, hop-centric American IPAs, based on the malt profile of the brewery's cream ale.
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Christopher Murphy
Alamo Beer Company, San Antonio, TX
At the recently opened Alamo Beer Company, down under a bridge in a rapidly changing, warehouse-laden corner of San Antonio, you&rsquoll find a lively courtyard with live bands, DJs, food trucks and a solid selection of brews. The Golden Ale, crisp, flavorsome and well balanced, is one of the best examples of its kind in America you can also expect good things from the amber lager and the pilsner.
Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, ME
Any half-decent craft beer bar in America is going to have the Allagash White on tap or at least in a bottle. This brilliant Maine take on a Belgian wheat beer is loaded with a refined blend of coriander and curaçao orange peel that goes down incredibly smooth. It&rsquos not the only standout that Allagash cooks up: Try to get your hands on its full-bodied saison, crafted with Tettnang, Bravo and Cascade hops, and its speciality releases, including the Grand Cru, a full-blown winter beer that features peated malt and is spiced with coriander, sweet orange peel and anise. The limited edition range is also worth a look.
Alaskan Brewing Company, Juneau, AK
Look out for the Polar Bear beer tap next time you&rsquore out&mdashit heralds one of the six regular beers produced by the team at the Alaskan Brewing Company. The Alaskan White is one of the finest witbiers America produces and stands tall alongside the brewery&rsquos flagship amber, a dry-hop IPA, a rich stout and a green American pale ale. Also look out for Hopothermia, a double IPA the brewers say is &ldquolike a massive grizzly bear in winter." The brewery produces a further 18 seasonal and limited edition drops, and our favorites include the Double Black IPA, Alaskan Birch Bock, Alaskan Imperial Red Ale, Pumpkin Porter, Troppelbock and the fiery Jalapeno Imperial IPA. Its annual spring release is often a winner, too: This year it was a cracker of an extra special bitter.
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Jessica Spengler
America's Best Beer Bars
Twentieth-century poet of the people Charles Bukowski once wrote, &ldquoStay with beer. Beer is continuous blood. A continuous lover.&rdquo No need to tell that twice to the members of the Mug Club at his namesake Boston dive, one of America&rsquos best beer bars.
Across the nation, craft beer is having a moment: BrewersAssociation.org reports that a whopping 700 breweries opened in 2013. &ldquoThe consumer has demanded a higher-quality product,&rdquo says beer pioneer Dale Katechis, owner of Oskar Blues, the nation&rsquos largest, privately owned craft beer producer. &ldquoWe were tired of being force-fed case beer. Life is too short.&rdquo
But along with seriously tasty suds, where are the standout places to drink them?
When choosing America&rsquos best beer bars we focused not only on the number of taps and uniqueness of the kegs (plus extras like beer-focused menus and on-point design), but also made sure there were knowledgeable bartenders to help you sort out your saisons from your stouts.
In rural Maine, Ebenezer&rsquos rare Belgian pours and makeshift &ldquobeer museum&rdquo pull in pilgrims from around the world, while spots like Craft Pride in Austin, TX, and Tony&rsquos Darts Away in Burbank, CA, showcase instead their own state&rsquos regional brews. In NYC, Top Hops bridges the gap between beer store and bar with 20 drafts to sample and almost 700 bottles to take home or cap in the store&mdasha godsend to those new to the brew.
&ldquoCraft beer bars are growing with a vengeance,&rdquo beams Katechis. (Cheers to that!) Be it a cult icon or newly opened standout, here&rsquos where to get your beer geek on from coast to coast.
Narragansett is a New England classic! &mdash Photo courtesy of Narragansett Beer
Rhode Island is only 37 miles wide and 48 miles long and within those state lines is a beer trail that’s 22 breweries across. How can such a small state rock so many breweries? The state has a long history in brewing beer, starting with the Narragansett Brewing Company founded in 1890.
Even though Prohibition and strict state regulations were a setback, once the laws were lifted, brewers were eager to get back to business. To experience the best beers that Rhode Island has to offer, the Rhode Island Brewers Guild created a brewery passport to help guide travelers on their journey.
Best Light: Miller Lite
- Region: Wisconsin
- ABV: 4.2%
- Tasting Notes: Light malt, smooth, clean
In 1966, Rheingold brewery introduced America’s first light lager, a 99-calorie beer called Gablinger’s. It flopped and the recipe was later sold to Miller Brewing. They rejiggered the formula to create the 96-calorie Miller Lite, introduced nationwide in 1975. It became a breakaway hit that tasted great and was less filling. “It just tastes like good old-fashioned beer, exactly what you want when you’re crushing light (or lite) beers,” says Miyashiro.
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The 50 Best Beers in America
It’s American Craft Beer Week, and what better way to celebrate than by bending an elbow with 50 of this great country’s finest brews? Whether you’re a fan of decadent imperial stouts, mouth-puckering sours, or floral India pale ales, there’s something for everyone on this list. In no particular order, here are our picks for how to stock your beer fridge:
1. BOMB!, 13% // PRAIRIE ARTISAN ALES, TULSA, OKLAHOMAPrairie Artisan Ales
Prairie’s flagship imperial stout is a potent combination of coffee, chocolate, ancho chili, and vanilla beans that is surprisingly drinkable for a beer that checks in at 13 percent ABV. The chili peppers give it just enough of a spicy burn that you won’t want to take down a whole bottle in a single gulp, but it’s tempting. If you’re really lucky, you’ll turn up one of the limited variant bottlings Prairie occasionally rolls out, like Christmas Bomb!, a version made with cinnamon, or Pirate Bomb!, which has been aged in rum barrels.
2. UNRELIABLE NARRATOR, 7.5% // THREES BREWING, BROOKLYN, NEW YORKThrees Brewing
With an unreliable narrator, you never quite know if you’re getting the full, unvarnished truth. You can count on Threes’ Unreliable Narrator to consistently deliver something awesome any time the Brooklyn brewery releases a canning: An IPA that’s juicy and full of papaya and other tropical fruit flavors.
3. HAZE, 8.2% // TREE HOUSE BREWING COMPANY, MONSON, MASSACHUSETTS
It’s tough to get your hands on the beer coming out of what must be the most heavily hyped brewery in the country. You have to show up early at the brewery in western Massachusetts, stand in the line that forms each day, and hopefully collect a few precious pint cans or a growler fill for your trouble. It all sounds like more trouble than it’s worth until you get a sip of the brewery’s trademark cloudy, juicy IPAs. Then it suddenly makes a lot of sense.
4. MAPLE BACON COFFEE PORTER, 6.4% // FUNKY BUDDHA BREWERY, OAKLAND PARK, FLORIDA
The name isn’t false advertising. You get a full spectrum of breakfast flavors in each sip, with distinct layers of roasted coffee, sweet maple, and smoky bacon coming together in a surprisingly seamless experience. It’s an impressive feat that is all the more memorable because it’s not just a novelty beer where one sip is enough. It’s so delicious that you can easily enjoy a pint even well after breakfast.
5. SPOTTED COW, 4.8% // NEW GLARUS BREWING COMPANY, NEW GLARUS, WISCONSINNew Glares Brewing Company
It’s not the strongest beer on this list. It doesn’t have the fanciest label. And it’s definitely not the most widely available—you can only pick one up in Wisconsin. But it only takes one bottle of this beloved local brewery’s “naturally cloudy farmhouse ale” to see why Wisconsin’s drinkers swear by Spotted Cow. It’s light, crisp, pleasantly fruity, and pairs well with everything.
6. DAISY CUTTER PALE ALE, 5.2% // HALF ACRE BEER COMPANY, CHICAGOHalf Acre Beer Company
Don’t let the flowers on the Chicago staple’s iconic pint cans fool you. This pale ale packs more of a piney, aromatic hop punch than many boozier India pale ales, and its dry, pleasant finish makes it endlessly drinkable.
7. DINO S’MORES MARSHMALLOW IMPERIAL STOUT, 10.5% // OFF COLOR BREWING, CHICAGOM. Kiser / Good Beer Hunting
What do you get when you brew a beer with marshmallow fluff, vanilla beans, graham flour, molasses, and cocoa nibs? A smart way to enjoy a campout classic without running afoul of any fire codes or ending up with sticky fingers.
8. PHILADELPHIA PALE ALE, 4.6% // YARDS BREWING COMPANY, PHILADELPHIAYards Brewing Company
Looking for an introduction into the world of pale ales? Look no further. This classic Philadelphia brew is hoppy without being overly bitter, making it the perfect approachable choice. It’s undeniably a pale ale, but instead of sharp hops, each sip rewards you with a pleasant grapefruit aroma and flavor with a crisp finish.
9. THREE PHILOSOPHERS, 9.7% // BREWERY OMMEGANG, COOPERSTOWN, NEW YORKBrewery Ommegang
Sometimes the extra two percent makes all the difference. Ommegang’s Belgian-style quadruple makes up 98 percent of each batch of Three Philosophers. The magic comes in the finishing touch: The brewery then fills out the blend with Belgian kriek. It may sound like a drop in the bucket, but those Belgian cherries shine through, giving you a rich, fruity finish that’s perfect as both an after-dinner drink or a companion for cheese and dark chocolate.
10. HIGH WEST-IFIED IMPERIAL COFFEE STOUT, 12.2% // LAGUNITAS BREWING COMPANY, PETALUMA, CALIFORNIALagunitas Brewing Company
Putting whiskey in your coffee is generally a recipe for bad ideas. Putting your coffee stout in whiskey barrels, on the other hand, is almost always a good idea. Lagunitas’s coffee stout emerges from a nap in High West Distillery’s bourbon and rye barrels with a burly roast coffee flavor that marries beautifully with a kick of whiskey in the finish.
11. PRIMA PILS, 5.3% // VICTORY BREWING CO., DOWNINGTOWN, PENNSYLVANIAVictory Brewing Co.
Pilsners may not draw the most beer-geek hype, but a clean, crisp example with just a bit of a floral hop bite on the finish can be heaven on a hot day. Or any day, really. If you’re looking for an American pilsner, look no further than Victory’s excellent take on the style that’s a little grassy, a little toasty, and extremely delicious.
12. TEMPTATION, 7.5% // RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING COMPANY, SANTA ROSA, CALIFORNIARussian River Brewing Company
Thanks to fermentation with wild yeasts and a period of aging in used chardonnay barrels, Russian River’s iconoclastic blonde ale is not quite like anything you’ve ever tasted. Temptation drinks like a funky cross between beer, cheese, and a dry white wine. Bottles can be hard to find, and they’re even harder to forget.
13. BLACK BUTTE PORTER, 5.2% // DESCHUTES BREWERY, BEND, OREGONDeschutes Brewery
Porters are perfect for those nights when you crave something dark, roasted, and robust but don’t want to tackle a behemoth of an imperial stout. They don’t come much better than Deschutes’s flagship, which backs an earthy chocolate flavor with just a bit of coffee and a subdued piney hop flavor.
14. COFFEE BENDER, 5.1% // SURLY BREWING CO., BROOKLYN CENTER, MINNESOTASurly Brewing Co.
Surly’s Bender is a gem in its own right as a balanced, drinkable oatmeal brown ale with a chewy mouthfeel and pleasant caramel flavor. An infusion of Guatemalan coffee transforms this variant into something even better: a rich, aromatic pour that feels like the perfect choice for anyone who can’t decide if they’d rather have a beer or an iced macchiato.
15. LA FOLIE SOUR BROWN ALE, 7.0% // NEW BELGIUM BREWING COMPANY, FORT COLLINS, COLORADONew Belgium Brewing Company
Up to three years of aging in large oak barrels gives this brown ale a character all its own. It’s complex and fruity, with cherry notes mingling with a bracingly sour blast that’s reminiscent of apple cider vinegar. We know: “Reminiscent of apple cider vinegar” doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, but you have to trust us on this one. It is. By the time your senses have fully processed a sip, you’ll be surprised at how crisp, dry, and refreshing something this sour can be.
16. PSEUDOSUE, 5.8% // TOPPLING GOLIATH BREWING CO., DECORAH, IOWAToppling Goliath Brewing Co.
When you name your beer after the famed T. rex skeleton at Chicago’s Field Museum, it had better be aggressive. Luckily for Toppling Goliath, pseudoSue lives up to its name by delivering a pleasantly toothy rampage of Citra hop flavors. The Field Museum approves, and if you enjoy pale ales, you will, too.
17. CASCADE SANG ROYAL, 9.35% // CASCADE BREWING, PORTLAND, OREGONCascade Brewing
Cascade’s incredible sour red ale ages for up to 30 months in cabernet and port barrels with cabernet grapes. The result is a tannic, sour pour that blurs the line between a sour beer and a tannic red wine. Grab some friends and pop the cork on a 750ml bottle of this Oregon treasure.
18. TWO HEARTED ALE, 7% // BELL’S BREWERY, COMSTOCK, MICHIGANBell's Brewery
Even if you only have one heart, this exceptional IPA will win it over. Named after a river in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula that’s beloved by fly fishermen, Bell’s standout pale ale is an ideal showcase for the floral, just-bitter-enough magic and grapefruit notes of Centennial hops. It’s a strong contender for the crown of “Best American IPA with a Label Featuring a Fish.”
19. SCULPIN INDIA PALE ALE, 7% // BALLAST POINT BREWING COMPANY, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIABallast Point Brewing Company
Then again, Ballast Point’s flagship IPA can make a strong, fishy case of its own. Its flavors are a little fruitier, with lots of mango and papaya, and it’s as easy to drink as any IPA you’ll find. Ballast Point bottles Sculpin variants made with grapefruit, habanero, and pineapple, but for our money, you can’t go wrong with the original.
20. SEIZOEN BRETTA, 8% // LOGSDON FARMHOUSE ALES, HOOD RIVER, OREGON
Historically, saisons were light, refreshing ales that were perfect for quenching the thirst of farm laborers. Luckily, you don’t have to put in a shift in the fields to enjoy this excellent example from Oregon’s Logsdon. The addition of brettanomyces yeast and a bit of pear juice gives Seizoen Bretta an extra layer of funky complexity that elevates the style to new heights.
21. BARREL AGED YETI IMPERIAL STOUT, 12.5% // GREAT DIVIDE BREWING CO., DENVER, COLORADO
In 1959, the United States embassy in Kathmandu issued a memo outlining the permits and licenses American hunters would need to acquire before stalking the famed cryptid within Nepal’s borders. Sounds like a lot of trouble. If you’re a stout fan, your time would be better spent hunting down this variant of Great Divide’s flagship. It wakes up from its hibernation in whiskey barrels with a revitalized flavor that boasts vanilla, oak, and just enough booze to let you know not to fight it.
22. WHITE RAJAH INDIA PALE ALE, 6.8% // THE BREW KETTLE, STRONGSVILLE, OHIO
Should you find yourself in the greater Cleveland area when a craving for an IPA loaded with tropical fruit flavors and a nice, lingering hop bite strikes you, head to the Brew Kettle. You won’t regret it.
23. BACKWOODS BASTARD, 11.2% // FOUNDERS BREWING CO., GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGANFounders Brewing Co.
You’ll have to wait until fall to track down this bourbon-barrel-aged Scotch ale, but it will be worth it. The malty, slightly smoky flavor of the base Scotch ale harmonizes with the vanilla and whiskey flavors to create something darn near perfect for spending a chilly night inside or huddled around a campfire. You probably won’t want to drink more than one in a sitting, but you’ll really savor that one.
24. COCONUT HIWA PORTER, 6% // MAUI BREWING CO., KIHEI, HAWAIIBryan Berkowitz
Sunny Hawaii may not seem like the typical breeding ground for a robust style like porter, but the addition of toasted coconut to this brew yields a flavor that’s loaded with chocolate, a bit of coffee, and just enough coconut to make each sip feel a tiny bit like a tropical vacation.
25. MELANGE NO. 3, 16.3% // THE BRUERY, PLACENTIA, CALIFORNIAThe Bruery
What happens when you blend a bourbon-barrel-aged wheat wine, a barrel-aged imperial stout, and a barrel-aged old ale? Magic! You’ll need to round up some friends to help you tackle a 750ml bottle of this gem, but the strong notes of fudge, bourbon, and plums will please any crowd.
26. DUCK-RABBIT BALTIC PORTER, 9% // THE DUCK-RABBIT CRAFT BREWERY, FARMVILLE, NORTH CAROLINAThe Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery
North Carolina’s “dark beer specialist” is the brainchild of a former philosophy teacher and carries a name inspired by philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, so maybe we’re predisposed to like their brainy beers. But even if you set aside their academic pedigree, the Duck-Rabbit’s offerings are smart buys because they’re so tasty. The Baltic Porter may be their best, a showcase of roasted malt, dark fruit, and just enough booze to liven up a chilly night.
27. GREAT LAKES ELIOT NESS AMBER LAGER, 6.1% // GREAT LAKES BREWING CO., CLEVELAND
The craft beer landscape is full of aggressive stouts, IPAs, and sour beers. While we’re clearly fans of those styles, sometimes you want something a little subtler. Great Lakes’s refreshing lager is a little toasty and a little nutty with a clean finish. It’s the perfect pour to cap off a long day of fighting bootleggers.
28. RAMSTEIN WINTER WHEAT, 9.5% // HIGH POINT BREWING COMPANY, BUTLER, NEW JERSEYHigh Point Brewing Company
It’s easy to think of wheat beers as thirst-quenching summer refreshers, but Ramstein’s winter seasonal shows just how complex and dark wheat beer can be. This mighty weizenbock pours cola-brown and is loaded with chocolate, dark fruit, and caramel flavors. You’ll never look at wheat beer the same way after your first sip.
29. BOURBON COUNTY BRAND STOUT, 13.80% // GOOSE ISLAND BEER CO., CHICAGOGoose Island Beer Co.
Aging an imperial stout in barrels that have previously held whiskey can lead to a brew that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Goose Island pioneered barrel-aging beers in the early 1990s, and although the brewery may no longer be independent, its flagship stout is still worth seeking out. Even better, it improves and mellows with age, so stash a second bottle somewhere cool and dark to enjoy in a few years.
30. SAMUEL ADAMS UTOPIAS, 28% // BOSTON BEER COMPANY, BOSTONBoston Beer Company
A bottle of Utopias checks in at 28 percent alcohol by volume and can set you back upwards of $200 if you can even find one. The viscous beer inside has spent up to 22 years carefully aging in bourbon, Madeira, cognac, Armagnac, and other wine and spirits barrels before being carefully blended. It all sounds excessive until you taste it. Then it makes perfect sense.
31. TROEGENATOR DOUBLE BOCK, 8.2% // TROEGS INDEPENDENT BREWING, HERSHEY, PENNSYLVANIATroegs Independent Brewing
As a style, doppelbock traces its roots back to German monks who would use the malty, sweet beers for sustenance during their Lenten fast. Luckily, today we don’t have to wait for Lent. We can hoist one whenever we want to enjoy their rich flavors of dark fruits and caramel. Pair this Pennsylvania classic with roasted or smoked meat for a divine combo that would make any 17th century monk jealous.
32. DAS WUNDERKIND!, 4.5% // JESTER KING BREWERY, AUSTIN, TEXASTyler Malone / The Second Shooter
Tart, dry, and extremely drinkable, this Jester King saison is a blend of sour beer that has been aged in oak barrels with bacterial cultures and fresh beer. The resulting concoction is the perfect brew to take the edge off the heat of Texas or wherever you happen to pop the cap. And if you can’t find this particular bottle, you can’t go wrong with any of Jester King’s other farmhouse and wild ales.
33. HUNAHPU’S IMPERIAL STOUT, 10.2% // CIGAR CITY BREWING, TAMPA, FLORIDACigar City Brewing
In theory, a stout aged on vanilla beans, cacao nibs, cinnamon, and two types of chili peppers sounds like a conceptual nightmare of clashing flavors. In practice, it’s a memorably decadent and complex experience, like a terrific stout crossed with the best Mexican hot chocolate you’ve ever tasted. It’s only released once a year, but the sublime combo of chocolate and spice is worth a trip to Tampa.
34. GOSE GONE WILD, 4.3% // STILLWATER ARTISANAL, BALTIMORE, MARYLANDBrooklyn Brew Shop
Looking for a refreshing summer beer that isn’t another light lager or blonde ale? It’s high time you got into gose, a slightly sour, slightly salty, slightly spicy style that originated in the German city of Leipzig. Stillwater’s version introduces wild yeasts for a funkier take on the style that’s still perfect for a hot summer day.
35. ZOMBIE DUST, 6.2% // 3 FLOYDS BREWING CO, MUNSTER, INDIANA
Zombie Dust isn’t the most heavily hopped pale ale around. It’s not the most bitter, and it doesn’t cram in the most juicy fruit flavors. None of that matters—it’s still the best pale ale you can get your mitts on. The nose is full of amazing orange and tangerine citrus, and each sip offers a master class on how to celebrate hops without overwhelming the palate. It can be hard to track down a bottle, but even if you had to fight an actual zombie to get a six pack, it would be worth it.
36. MOTHER OF ALL STORMS, 14% // PELICAN BREWING, PACIFIC CITY, OREGON
Coastal Oregon brewer Pelican’s English barleywine, Stormwatcher’s Winterfest, is an excellent beer that offers a malty, fruity take on a powerful English style. After spending a year in bourbon barrels, it emerges as a burly, brash version of itself with the volume turned up to 11. The classic English toffee and caramel flavors are still there, but the oak and vanilla notes that slip in from the barrel aging process make the Mother of All Storms a memorable beer that’s worth seeking out.
37. NARRAGANSETT LAGER, 5% // NARRAGANSETT BREWING CO, PAWTUCKET, RHODE ISLANDNarragansett Brewing Co
Lots of great breweries on this list are just a few years old. On the other end of the spectrum is Rhode Island stalwart Narragansett, which traces its heritage all the way back to 1890. Although the brewery cranks out a variety of styles, including a line of H.P. Lovecraft-inspired limited releases with horror themes, its classic lager is a staple of fridges throughout the Northeast. It’s tough to beat a cooler full of pint cans of this clean-finishing lager at a campout, picnic, or barbecue.
38. ALLAGASH COOLSHIP RESURGAM, 6.3% // ALLAGASH BREWING COMPANY, PORTLAND, MAINEAllagash Brewing Company
The brewery’s flagship Allagash White, a pitch-perfect rendition of a Belgian witbier, is widely available and a solid pick. But if you’re willing to put in some legwork, take the time to hunt down a bottle of Coolship Resurgam, a tart, funky ale created using traditional Belgian spontaneous fermentation methods. The brewery uses a huge shallow tub known as a “coolship” to expose unfermented beer to the air overnight. As the beer cools, the natural bacteria in the air enters the brew, which then spends up to three years fermenting in wine barrels. When it emerges, the beer is tart, with notes of peach, apricot, and apple leading into a dry finish.
39. BIGFOOT BARLEYWINE-STYLE ALE, 9.6% // SIERRA NEVADA BREWING CO., CHICO, CALIFORNIASierra Nevada Brewing Co.
This aggressively hopped barleywine has been a staple of Sierra Nevada’s portfolio since 1983, and it only gets better with age. When fresh, it’s almost punishingly bitter, but there’s enough of a chewy malt backbone to make it an enjoyable sipper. Bigfoot really starts to shine with a few years on it, though. If you can stash a bottle somewhere dark and cool, those piney hops will gradually take a backseat to those malts, and the resulting pour will develop complex flavors of sherry, spice cake, caramel, and dark fruits. Sneak a few bottles into the basement and check back in 2022—you’ll be glad you did.
40. SOUTHERN PECAN NUT BROWN ALE, 4.39% // LAZY MAGNOLIA BREWING COMPANY, KILN, MISSISSIPPILazy Magnolia Brewing Company
Lots of brewers make brown ales that showcase nutty flavors. Lazy Magnolia does them one better by brewing what it calls “the first beer in the world, to our knowledge, made with whole roasted pecans.” Tossing the quintessentially Southern nut into the recipe may sound like a gimmick, but the addition imparts a deep, nutty flavor that really rounds out the slightly sweet brown ale. You won’t mistake it for pecan pie, but you’ll still want to go back for seconds.
41. OLD CHUB, 8% // OSKAR BLUES BREWERY, LONGMONT, COLORADOOskar Blues Brewery
When you need a break from huge hop flavors, a good Scotch ale is just the ticket. And Oskar Blues’ staple Old Chub is a very good Scotch ale. It’s malty and smoky without being overwhelming, sweet and chewy without being cloying. Pair it with rich, roasted foods and doff your cap to the brilliant Scotsmen who pioneered this beautiful style.
42. HEADY TOPPER, 8% // THE ALCHEMIST, WATERBURY, VERMONT
You can’t look at many “World’s Best Beer” lists without seeing the iconic imperial IPA from Vermont’s the Alchemist. With so much buzz surrounding the silver-and-black pint cans, can the beer inside possibly live up to the hype? You bet. If anything, Heady Topper exceeds most reasonable expectations. It’s a dank, piney hop bomb that doesn’t feel gratuitously bitter. It packs quite a punch without feeling boozy. And for such a celebrated IPA, it’s surprisingly balanced. If you only drive to small-town Vermont for one beer, make it this one.
43. EVERETT, 7.5% // HILL FARMSTEAD BREWERY, GREENSBORO, VERMONT
However, if you have time to make a second beer pilgrimage on your swing through Vermont, you can’t miss the just-as-celebrated, just-as-tasty wares of nearby Hill Farmstead. The farm brewery has mastered everything from IPAs to saisons to wild ales to imperial stouts, but for our money, their chocolate-and-coffee-laden porter is the standout.
44. TERRAPIN MOO-HOO CHOCOLATE MILK STOUT, 6% // TERRAPIN BEER CO., ATHENS, GEORGIATerrapin Beer Co.
Adult life is tragically short on moments in which it’s socially acceptable to gulp down a glass of chocolate milk. Terrapin’s winter seasonal may not quite scratch your childhood dairy yearnings, but it’s the next best thing. There’s just enough chocolate to really round out the classic sweetness of a milk stout, and although you won’t want to dunk a cookie in it, you’ll probably want to order a second round.
45. KUHNHENN RASPBERRY EISBOCK, 15.5% // KUHNHENN BREWING CO., WARREN, MICHIGAN
Kuhnhenn’s website classifies this highly sought-after rarity as an “experimental high-gravity fruit beer,” but we’re content just to call it delicious. A recipe that includes fresh raspberries and raspberry juice yields a beer that’s syrupy, sweet, strong, and incredibly complex without being cloying. Each sip feels like it’s straddling the line between beer and raspberry cordial, so if you’re a raspberry fan, this is one you won’t want to miss.
46. MIDAS TOUCH, 9% // DOGFISH HEAD CRAFT BREWERY, MILTON, DELAWAREDogfish Head Craft Brewery
Developing a good beer recipe can take time. In this case, the timeline ran to 2700 years. Dogfish Head partnered with molecular archaeologist Patrick McGovern of the University of Pennsylvania to brew this beer based on findings from a Turkish tomb that dates back to around 700 BCE. The tomb is thought to have contained the historical King Midas or his father. The archaeological evidence gave rise to a beer that drinks like a sweet hybrid of beer, mead, and white wine. It may not give you the golden touch, but you’ll still feel like a king after a glass.
47. DOUBLE DRY HOPPED DOUBLE MOSAIC DREAM, 8.5% // OTHER HALF BREWING CO., BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
Brooklyn’s Other Half may only be three years old, but the small brewery near the Gowanus Canal cranks out a dizzying array of top-notch IPAs. Even though the brewery’s offerings rotate on a near-weekly basis, the double-dry-hopped variant of its Mosaic-hopped imperial IPA has already become a standby, and for good reason. The addition of lupulin powder to the recipe elevates an already great beer into something even better, with lots of mango and pineapple flavors bursting through.
48. RUMPKIN, 17.5% // AVERY BREWING CO., DENVERAvery Brewing Co.
Many brewers create a fall seasonal that tastes less like a pumpkin beer and more like pumpkin pie spices dumped into a beer. Avery takes a better approach, using roasted local pumpkins, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger to create a pumpkin brew, then aging it in rum barrels. The sweet, oaky flavors of the rum barrel are the perfect complement to the pumpkin and spice, resulting in an extremely potent beer that’s perfect for autumn sipping.
49. BLACKBERRY, 6% // UPLAND BREWING COMPANY, BLOOMINGTON, INDIANAUpland Brewing Co.
Indiana and Belgium don’t have a lot in common at first glance, but the Hoosier State’s Upland Brewing crafts sour, wood-aged fruit ales that would make many Belgian lambic brewers jealous. Upland has created exotic fruit sours using offbeat ingredients like kiwi and persimmon, but our favorite is the one made with whole local blackberries. The purple, tart beer is perfect for those days when you need a sour, fruity beer but don’t want to trek all the way to Brussels.
50. PM DAWN, 9% // TRILLIUM BREWING COMPANY, BOSTONTrillium Brewing Co.
Not just any brewery can make a stout infused with cold-brewed coffee and have it come out tasting like the beer version of a café mocha. Even fewer can make a stout that shares its name with a beloved musical act and have it live up to expectations. Luckily for us, Boston’s Trillium Brewing is up to the task. It will only take one glass for you to feel like you’ve been set adrift on memory bliss.
America’s Best Craft Beer Bars (Slideshow) - Recipes
Style: English Pale Ale
Average Price: $10, 6-pack
This throwback recipe harnesses the ingenuity of America’s biggest craft brewer and melds it with English brewing. The beer has a solid malt base that’s amped up with English East Kent Goldings and Fuggles hops. The brew is then aged in cool temperatures to really smooth out the flavor notes.
This is a pretty solid autumn beer in our estimation. The mild malt provides a base for spicy and earthy hoppiness. The bitterness is drawn waaaaay back and allows for the caramel aspects of the malt to peek in through the well-rounded body of the beer.
9. The Alchemist Heady Topper
Style: New England IPA
Average Price: $18.99, 4-pack
This is one of the signature beers of the NEIPA hop-bomb movement. It’s been hyped by the highest echelons of the craft beer world.
Does it live up to that hype? No. Nothing can.
This is just a damn-fine beer that’s delicious to drink… if you love heavy doses of dank hops.
This sipper opens with a rush of dank resinous notes with a grassy and floral nature. The taste delivers on those notes with an almost hash oil dankness next to a dry fizzy nature and the distant echo of what were once malts. While this is classified as a NEIPA, it’s not juicy really. It’s way more like a classic West Coast IPA these days, with thorough pine resin and cannabis floral dankness running from beginning to end.
8. North Coast Brewing Co. Old Rasputin
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
Average Price: $10.99, 4-pack
This is a classic beer all-around and the most expensive on the list (but only slightly more expensive than the others). It’s been winning awards for decades. It’s also the perfect rainy day accompaniment for this time of year. The hefty ABVs help to take the edge off as well. You can’t go wrong with a bottle or two of this dark stuff.
Deeply roasted cacao nibs meet chocolate malts with a fatty nutty edge. A bit of whiskey vanilla and barrel must arrive on the palate with a sense of spice and more of those chocolatey malts. The bitterness of the dark chocolate moves towards a subtle pine resin dankness at the end.
7. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA
Style: American IPA
Average Price: $10.49, 6-pack
This is a quintessential West Coast IPA. The hops are on full display in this beer. But it’s still Sierra Nevada and they know how to balance a beer perfectly between its malty base and hoppy body.
Bright hops greet you with a lean in from mild pine heading toward lemon citrus. That citrus carries through on the palate as a hint of juicy fruit arrives in the background along with a caramel malt backbone. The bright, floral, piney, and juicy hop nature never overpowers as the dry end of this beer arrives and refreshes you to your core.
6. Arrogant Bastard Ale
Style: American Strong Ale
Average Price: $12.99, 6-pack
Arrogant Bastard from Stone Brewing out in San Diego was a powerhouse in the late 1990s. The beer still satisfies as a reminder to headier times when big, bold hoppy notes were considered “outsider” on the national stage (not that other microbrewers weren’t doing that already for a while).
There’s a sweet maltiness that’s overcome by grassy hops. The dankness is apparent and marries the almost nutty sweetness of the malty underbelly. The sip meanders through citrus, more grassy notes, almost toffee-like maltiness, with a flutter of spice by the end.
5. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
Style: Imperial IPA
Average Price: $15.29, 6-pack
This beer’s brewing process makes it unique. The brewers continuously add hops for 90 minutes during the brew to layer in a serious amount of hoppy depth. The keyword there is “layer.” While a lot of hops are used in this process, it doesn’t overpower the malty base of the beer and creates a textured experience in the beer’s body.
The bready and caramel malts come through in tandem with the equal parts piney and citrusy hops. The taste delivers on those promises with the addition of Christmas cakes full of candied fruit, rum, and spices. The bitterness is dialed in with a nice cut of citrus that mellows the whole sip out.
4. Anchor Steam
Style: California Common
Average Price: $10.99, 6-pack
Anchor Steam is one of the most unique beers on this list. The brew is a hybrid of lager and ale. The beer is made with cold lager yeasts that are fermented with malts at warm ale-like temperatures. It’s made in shallow, open-topped fermenters, which allows the yeast to work faster and the mix to cool more quickly.
The beer presents you with a nose full of roasted and slightly caramel malts with a bready nature next to a wisp of floral hops. The palate carries on with the malts edging towards a toffee sweetness as the hops linger in the background with a slight pine bitterness.
The sip ends dry, full-bodied, and crisp.
3. Alaskan Amber
Average Price: $9.46, 6-pack
This easy-drinking Altbier — an old German brown ale from the Düsseldorf area — is another perfect rainy day beer to have a six-pack of in the fridge. The beer is all about the malt that’s slow-fermented at cooler temperatures (compared to most ales, that is). All of that makes for a quaffable ale worth trying the next time you’re west of the Mississippi.
Does the Alaskan glacial water come out in the body of this beer? We’d like to think so. The brew really revels in the caramel roasted malts on the nose and in the taste. The hoppiness is there, but more of a floral and resiny accent than the main attraction.
The sip is light-hearted, full-spirited, and damn f*cking tasty.
2. New Belgium Fat Tire
Style: American Red Ale
Average Price: $10.49, 6-pack
This amber ale put New Belgium on the craft beer map back in the day. The brew utilizes Pale, C-80, Munich, and Victory alongside Willamette, Goldings, and Nugget hops that are balanced just right. This Colorado brew is an easy-drinking beer that’s also really easy to find these days. Those are wins.
There’s a buttered and honey-dripping biscuit maltiness up top with a note of green apple tartness and grassy hops. Those sweetened malts are what shine the brightest on the tongue as the hops pop in with floral bitterness.
The sip’s dry fizziness keeps things squarely in the “refreshing” category while still feeling bold.
1. Samuel Adams Boston Lager
Style: Vienna Lager
Average Price: $17.69, 12-pack
This really is the grand-parent of most craft beer these days. The lager launched back in 1984 and has become the cornerstone of both craft brewing, corner liquor stores, and airport bars worldwide. The actual beer marries American malts with German hops, specifically grown in Bavaria for Samuel Adams.
Caramel malts greet you with a whisper of those floral Bavarian hops. The sweet malts mingle with a bit of grain and citrus as the hops ebb and flow in the background. The end is dry and refreshing with the caramel malts taking back center stage.