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.
Captain Lawrence recently relocated to a new space in Elmsford, New York, that is about five times the size of its old brewery. This Cuvée, now in batch #5, is something special: a Belgian-style golden ale refermented with Muscat grapes and aged in oak wine barrels with Brettanomyces. The bouquet is vinous and complex, with bright aromas of green apple, lemon and…
This is a seriously good sipping stout that is best enjoyed with friends, given the high alcohol and intense profile, but it’s remarkable how dangerously smooth and well balanced it actually is. Aged in first-use Bourbon barrels for six months, it’s loaded with heady aromas and flavors that can’t be ignored. Lush, sweet flavors of toffee, chocolate, crème de cassis…
Celebrator is an iconic doppelbock, regularly earning awards and accolades from competitions and journalists. It pours a dark mahogany color with flecks of rich amber when held up to the light. The bouquet immediately entices with seductive notes of toffee, caramel, toasted cinnamon-raisin bread, dried plum and fig, all laced with threads of molasses and sweet…
Stone Brewing scores again with its Ruination Tenth Anniversary, an attempt to take its regular Ruination IPA to the max. Labeled as “ruining palates for 10 years,” this full-bodied IPA’s hops take center stage, as expected. Copper in color with a frothy head, it’s loaded with intense hop-fueled notes of pine, grapefruit pith and a touch of sweet clementine. A…
This is a stunning beer, with just about everything you’d look for and expect from a German-style Pilsener. It’s a clear, golden-yellow color with fine bubbles dancing up toward the fluffy white head. The bouquet is appropriately soft and nuanced, with delicate hints of fresh grain, bread, citrusy hops and grass. Those same notes follow through on the palate, but…
This is a classic Scotch ale, and although it’s not cheap, it’s definitely worth trying at least once. This is a beer to be enjoyed and savored with each sip, and not mindlessly guzzled, lest you miss the gorgeous subtleties and nuanced notes that make it so darn good. Lightly roasty caramel malts are the backbone here, with accents of dried figs and dates, fresh…