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.
This dark ale pours a deep mahogany color, with a substantial head that falls fast and leaves a slight ring around the rim of the glass. The bouquet is intense and loaded with aromas of various sweet spices—clove, cinnamon and vanilla—alongside dried fruit accents of cherry, fig and date. The mouthfeel is full and lush, with a caramel malt backbone to support all…— L.B. (7/1/2012)
This amber ale brewed in the Flanders tradition pours a slightly cloudy mahogany color with an off-white head. Initial aromas of earthy, wood-driven spices and tart cherries abound, with a secondary note of barnyard and a rich caramel streak. The beer exhibits superb balance; the full-bodied and slightly sweet profile is countered by lifting sour fruit flavors…— L.B. (8/1/2012)
A classic clean and refreshing selection, this saison pours a cloudy golden-orange color with a big, frothy head that shows good retention. Aromas and flavors of sweet citrus lead, with supporting notes of honey, malt and a light spice character. The mouthfeel is brisk and vibrant, with lifting carbonation and an appropriately tart palate keeping the finish fresh.— L.B. (4/1/2012)
This full and powerful double bock is perfect for that winter-to-spring transition. It’s rich and flavorful, with an intense malt backbone full of roasted nuts and brown bread aromas jazzed up with dried fruit, soft caramel and a touch of whole coffee bean. Nutty and sweet in the mouth, the palate is round and creamy with a nice weight to the dominating roasted…— L.B. (3/1/2012)
This is a collaborative beer from two companies led by women: New Glarus Brewing and Weyermann Malting. It’s crisp and malt driven, as you would expect a classic lager to be, but the Hallertau Mittelfrüh hops impart iconic noble-hop notes of grass, soft grapefruit essence and earthy florals. Smooth and balanced in the mouth, with a light green-tea astringency that…— L.B. (6/1/2012)