The Top 25 Beers list is all about balance—the balance of countries, brands, styles, prices and production sizes. Numeric scores and pricing play a role, but industry buzz and product availability are key as well. This year’s number one beer possesses all the essentials: high score, attractive pricing, brand excitement, popular style and superb availability.
This list is not the top 25 beers of all time, but it is a look at some of the best-reviewed selections tasted for our Beer Buying Guide over the past 12 months. The majority of beers submitted and reviewed were domestic selections, as the American craft beer movement continues to expand rapidly.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t fabulous beers from around the world, or that these are the absolute best brews currently on the market—but it is an indication of the geographic distribution of beers submitted and reviewed this year.
The list does include a couple of high-scoring items that might not be widely distributed or are extremely limited in production. These are beer treasures that are definitely worth the hunt.
Odell’s take on this classic Flemish style is a blend of several generations of brown ale, barrel aged for more than 18 months to let the wild yeasts and bacteria do their dirty work. The bouquet is certainly sour upfront, with aromas of tart red berry, green apple and vinegar mingling with soft cocoa and wood-spice accents. The same characteristics follow through…— L.B. (12/31/2012)
The name Bolt Cutter refers to what one of the brewery’s co-founders purchased after threats from the bank to chain up the brewery’s doors. Thankfully, the business turned around, and the cutters were never actually used, but the tool is still kept on premise as a reminder of how far the brewery has come. This 15th anniversary beer is a fitting celebration of…— L.B. (12/31/2012)
Vitus, made from a resurrected recipe that is now being brewed year round, is a full-bodied and intensely flavored weizenbock that offers layer upon layer of aromas and flavors. A cloudy golden color in the glass, it starts off with an incredible head that lingers and leaves gorgeous lacing behind with each sip. Scents of banana, green tropical fruit, lemon and…— L.B. (10/1/2012)
Sourcing from Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Prosser, Washington, Dogfish Head added Pinot Gris must and botrytized Viognier must to a brew made from pils and wheat malts and fermented the mix with a Belgian yeast strain. The result is certain to satisfy even the most divided house, with brisk carbonation and a clean malt core that’s lifted with sweet vinous…— L.B. (7/1/2012)
This rockin’ brew pours thick with intense aromas of resiny hop and hemp that immediately jump from the glass, while secondary accents of raisin, plum, roasted peanut skins and a touch of chocolate appear upon deeper nosing. Full and round in the mouth, with great richness and depth of flavors along with an assertive yet balanced hop character that remains through…— L.B. (3/1/2012)