RANKED! The Mandatory 10 Best Craft Brews
Photo: Peathegee Inc (Getty Images)
We’ve written about the craft beer boom many times over the last decade. The total number of breweries is well over 8,000 in the U.S. That’s an awful lot of IPAs, Stouts, Pale Ales, Porters, and sour beers. We’re all about patronizing your local craft breweries (especially right now), but it’s a fruitless endeavor to attempt to even sample beer from a small portion of the tremendous number of breweries in the country.
Since we’ve determined that it would take you hundreds of years to try every beer (not to mention the breweries currently set to open or recently opened), why not just drink the best of the best? That’s why we took it upon ourselves to make a list of the top craft beers in America that you need to try. Some are harder to find than others, so good luck.
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10. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale might be one of the easiest beers to find on this list, but that doesn’t change its importance or overall taste. One of the most highly respected pale ales, it’s complex, flavorful and full of floral hops.
Photo: Sierra Nevada
9. Tree House King Julius
Not to be confused with King Julien, King Julius is a highly coveted American Double IPA from Massachusetts’ Tree House. One of the best examples of New England-Style IPAs, it’s juicy and full floral fresh hop flavors.
Photo: Tree House
8. Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout
Like Bourbon County, beer fans eagerly await the release of Founder CBS every year. This Imperial stout is brewed with coffee and chocolate before aging in former bourbon barrels that previously held maple syrup.
7. 3 Floyds Dark Lord
If Bourbon County Stout is hard to get, 3 Floyds is almost impossible. You pretty much have to stand in line at the brewery when it’s released to get your hands on a bottle of this 15 percent Russian Imperial Stout brewed with Indian sugar, vanilla beans from Mexico, and coffee.
Photo: 3 Floyds
6. Alchemist Heady Topper
Vermont used to be a place to peep fall foliage while staying at a quaint bed and breakfast. In the last few decades, it’s also become the best trip destination for beer fans. The most beloved stop on the Vermont beer trail is Alchemist, maker of Heady Topper, the beloved 8 percent citrus-filled double IPA.
5. Lawson's Sip of Sunshine
This sought-after IPA is full of juicy tropical flavors as well as fresh citrus and floral hints from the onslaught of hops. Unlike many beers designed for aging, this beer is supposed to be served cold and fresh.
Photo: Lawson’s Finest
4. Allagash White
Like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Allagash White isn’t hard to find. But, in the pantheon of wheat beers, there’s no better choice than this hazy, Belgian-style brew filled with hints of coriander and ripe banana flavors.
3. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
Every year, Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (and all its variations) is one the of the eagerly awaited brews. This stout is aged in former bourbon barrels for year. It’s full of bourbon sweetness, dark chocolate, and hints of vanilla and caramel.
Photo: Goose Island
2. Russian River Pliny the Elder
Whether you get your hands on a bottle of Pliny the Elder or Pliny the Younger, you’re about to sip on the holy grail of craft brews. Russian River’s Pliny the Elder is chock full of hops, but remains balanced with a healthy malt presence. Truly iconic beer.
Photo: Russian River
1. Maine Beer Lunch
We all enjoy a “liquid lunch” from time to time. But, if our beer-based lunch was anything like this tropical fruit-forward hop-bomb paired with a subtle malt backbone, we’d eat (drink) it every single day.
Photo: Maine Beer
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