This list is not the top 25 beers of all time, but our annual ranking of the best-reviewed selections from the past 12 months. Culled from our monthly Beer Buying Guide, these represent the most dynamic and exciting beers reviewed this year. They exhibit extraordinary craftsmanship, innovation and quality at prices that still represent affordable luxury.
Continuing the previous year’s trend, the majority of beers submitted and reviewed in 2013 were domestic selections (IPAs being the most popular style), with a handful of European samples adding international perspective. But, for this list, we ultimately strive for overall balance—of countries, brands, styles, prices and production sizes. Numeric scores and pricing play a role, but industry buzz, category trends and ingenuity are key considerations as well.
As a result, you’ll find that this is not just a list of top-scoring selections, but a ranking that includes selections from numerous states and countries, of varying styles, with assorted price tags and distribution areas. There are some that are available from coast to coast, while others might not be readily available in your area or are extremely limited in production. They’re all beer treasures worth the hunt.
This rich yet smooth lager pours a bright copper color with a frothy off-white head that shows good retention. Malty aromas of roasted grain, soft caramel and a hint of toffee are upfront on the nose, but are complemented by a spicy hop aroma in the background. The mouth is creamy and flavorful, lifted by medium carbonation and a citrusy dry-hop character that…— L.B. (7/1/2013)
Named after and dry hopped with a super-robust New Zealand hop, Green Bullet Triple IPA (apparently double wasn’t quite good enough) is an ideal choice for hopheads. It’s loaded with aggressive hop aromas and flavors, including grapefruit rind, orange oil, hay, pine and resin. The palate is full and round, but well balanced, with the high alcohol barely noticeable…— L.B. (12/1/2013)
This organic hefeweizen is balanced and easy-drinking, with sessionable alcohol and a clean close. It pours a cloudy amber-mahogany color, with forward scents of fresh bread, ripe banana, light caramel and clove that carry through with similar intensity to the medium-weight mouth. The texture is full, but medium carbonation keeps the palate fresh. A hint of grassy…— L.B. (6/1/2013)
This DIPA pours a hazy apricot color, with a frothy off-white head that lasts. Hop aromas and flavors are in the foreground, with pronounced notes of citrus zest—lemon, orange and grapefruit—as well as accents of pine and hemp oil. The medium carbonation keeps the palate from feeling too heavy or resinous, while the biscuity, malty core balances out the hoppy…— L.B. (9/1/2013)
This dry-hopped selection offers upfront hop-derived aromas of citrus, fresh-cut grass and piny florals on the nose, making it an ideal choice for hopheads looking for a break from traditional IPAs. Similar flavors unfold on the palate, with medium carbonation to keep the resiny and astringent characteristics lifted and approachable. A hint of caramel-like malty…— L.B. (4/1/2013)