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The Most Delicious Beers in America

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While Americans drink more wine and cocktails now than 20 years ago, beer remains the dominant alcoholic beverage, with over 6 billion gallons consumed annually compared to under 1 billion gallons of wine.

Despite big brands’ dominance, craft beers are gaining popularity, increasing sales 5% last year to account for a quarter of the U.S. beer market. With constant experimentation, new craft brews pour into the market regularly, offering novel aromas and flavors compared to unchanging corporate brews. (Here’s the best local beer from every state.)

To assemble an admittedly subjective list of America’s 40 most delicious beers, 24/7 Tempo consulted numerous rankings and reviews on specialist sites, including Beer Advocate, Hop Culture, RateBeer, and Craft Beer & Brewing, and from such general-interest publications. While numerical scores, where given, were factored into our choices, consideration was also given to the comments of reviewers, both amateur and professional, in describing various beers. (You can be sure that our list doesn’t include any of the worst beers in the world.)

Fair warning: Craft beers can be hard to find, available locally or seasonally. They can also be very expensive, $50 or more a bottle in some cases. With bold flavorings, high alcohol, and bitterness, not every beer will suit every taste, but together they represent the cream of American craft brewing now.

Click here to learn about America’s 40 most delicious beers

40. Arrowhead Red Ale
> Style: Irish red ale
> Brewery: Montauk Brewing Company
> Location: Montauk, New York

Built around a solid core of malt, this appealingly quaffable ale shows traces of stone fruit, with a ribbon of butterscotch running through it and a crisp finish.

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39. Fresh Squeezed
> Style: IPA
> Brewery: Deschutes Brewery
> Location: Bend, Oregon

A fragrant IPA, described by the brewery as a “citrus bomb,” this infinitely refreshing ale balances lemony and tropical fruit flavors against a solid malt center.

38. Death and Taxes
> Style: European dark lager
> Brewery: Moonlight Brewing Company
> Location: Santa Rosa, California

Dark in color but light on the palate, smooth, crisp, and clean, with a bracing finish, the easy-going Death and Taxes gets compared frequently to iced coffee – but if that’s accurate, it’s iced coffee that isn’t loaded down with sugar.

37. Abner
> Style: New England IPA
> Brewery: Hill Farmstead Brewery
> Location: Greensboro Bend, Vermont

Named for the great-grandfather of the brewery’s owners, and brewed with well water from the farmstead property, this is a solid, hazy, very nicely balanced IPA, showing floral notes and plenty of hoppy flavor.

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36. Anabasis
> Style: American barleywine
> Brewery: Side Project Brewing
> Location: Maplewood, Missouri

This one’s rich, earthy, piney, and oaky, with plenty of caramel, vanilla, and almond notes. There have been six Anabasis blends released so far, each one aged in different combinations of bourbon barrels, lending heft and authority to both the flavor and the mouth-feel.

35. Bone’s Desire
> Style: Grodziskie
> Brewery: Necromancer Brewing Co.
> Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Grodziskie is an unusual beer style, little-known today even in its native Poland (where it has been referred to as “Polish Champagne”). Made with oak-smoked malted wheat, it’s definitely smoky, with pinpoint carbonation, nice hoppy bitterness, and a hint of sweetness.

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34. Duck-Duck-Gooze
> Style: Belgian-style sour ale
> Brewery: The Lost Abbey
> Location: San Marcos, California

This is a Golden State interpretation of the classic Belgian style called gueuze (hence the punning name). Gueuze is a type of lambic – beer fermented with wild yeasts and bacteria – made by blending young and older barrel-aged beers. This one is lively and redolent of stone fruits, with some tartness and sweetness.

33. A Deal With the Devil – Triple Oak-Aged
> Style: American barleywine
> Brewery: Anchorage Brewing Company
> Location: Anchorage, Alaska

There’s a lot going on in this bourbon-barrel-aged big boy – dried fruit, caramel, chocolate, vanilla, brown sugar, a bit of smokeand a serious 17% ABV. It’s a liquor-soaked dessert in a glass.

32. Monster Tones
> Style: American imperial stout
> Brewery: Modern Times Beer
> Location: San Diego, California

This is a 13% ABV half-and-half mix of two well-loved Modern Times brews – Monsters’ Park and Modern Tones. It’s rich, black, malty, and bittersweet, with an aroma that hints at coconut and chocolate and a mouth-coating body that mixes suggestions of caramel and coffee into the recipe.

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31. New World Geography
> Style: Italian-style pilsner
> Brewery: Alma Mader Brewing
> Location: Kansas City, Missouri

Alma Mader calls this one Italian-style pilsner, but it’s pretty easily recognizable as a pilsner made in the more familiar Czech style, golden-pale in color, with attractive citrus and resin notes in the background and a soft, flowers-and-herbs character in the mouth.

30. Atrial Rubicite
> Style: Sour ale
> Brewery: Jester King Brewery
> Location: Austin, Texas

This two-fisted Texan take on wild-fermented Belgian framboise (raspberry-flavored beer), which comes only in 500 ml bottles, is gorgeously garnet in color, and surprisingly dry and vivid on the palate, with plenty of juicy fruit.

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29. Daily Wages
> Style: Saison/farmhouse ale
> Brewery: Brasserie Saint James
> Location: Reno, Nevada

Brewed in a rustic Belgian style, this earthy, haystack-yellow ale is herbaceous, crisp, and dry, with some bitterness and earthy flavor.

28. Old Rasputin
> Style: Russian imperial stout
> Brewery: North Coast Brewing Co.
> Location: Fort Bragg, California

Russian stout is said to have been developed to please the tsars of the 18th century, dark and high in alcohol (though this one is a comparatively modest 9% ABV). Old Rasputin is full-bodied, malty, and chocolatey, with a hint of strong-espresso bitterness.

27. Qualified
> Style: Quadrupel
> Brewery: Taxman Brewing Co.
> Location: Bargeersville, Indiana

This full-bodied abbey-style dark ale, at 9.5% ABV, is a classic dessert-style beer, with lots of dried fruit, brown sugar, baking bread, and roasted almonds both in the nose and on the palate.

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26. Más Verde
> Style: New England IPA
> Brewery: River Roost Brewery
> Location: Hartford, Vermont

A classic example of this style of beer, hazy but bright golden in color, with tropical fruit and pine in the aroma, and a creamy mouth-feel with tinges of citrus and spices.

25. Elevated IPA
> Style: American IPA
> Brewery: La Cumbre Brewing Co.
> Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

IPAs are defined by forthright hops character, but this one takes the concept almost to the limit, with hops, hops, and more hops. Resin, grapefruit, green grass, and more combine in the aroma and on the palate.

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24. Le Terroir
> Style: Sour ale
> Brewery: New Belgium Brewing
> Location: Fort Collins, Colorado and Asheville, North Carolina

Sourness and a counterpoint of sweetness, with a hint of acidic bite, characterize this dry-hopped, superbly balanced ale, barrel-aged for two years.

23. Westly
> Style: Saison
> Brewery: Sainte Adairius Rustic Ales
> Location: Capitola, California

This is a riff on Sainte Adairius’s popular West Ashley, with more wood and more fruit. The fruit is apricots, lending a seductive jammy character to this sour, tart, oaky, barrel-aged delight.

22. Very Green
> Style: Double IPA
> Brewery: Tree House Brewing Co.
> Location: Charlton, Massachusetts

Redolent of American and Australian hops, with a piney, herbaceous character and a bracing citrus bite, this is a complex brew that develops nicely in the glass.

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21. Sip of Sunshine
> Style: Imperial IPA
> Brewery: Lawson’s Finest Liquids
> Location: Waitsfield, Vermont

Clear and golden, this IPA offers a generous aroma full of pine needles, roses, and warm biscuits, then delivers a perfectly balanced interplay of hops and malt.

20. Maman
> Style: American imperial stout
> Brewery: Perennial Artisan Ales
> Location: St. Louis, Missouri

A definitive stout, black and viscous, with toasty malt and chocolate aromas and a flavor that evokes more chocolate and maybe a hint of good cigars.

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19. Dinner
> Style: Double IPA
> Brewery: Maine Beer Co.
> Location: Freeport, Maine

Here’s one for beer-drinkers who don’t want a lot of extraneous ingredients or flavors in their brew – a dry, fresh, clean double IPA, fruity and spicy, with a resiny flavor and lightly bitter finish.

18. Clover
> Style: Saison
> Brewery: Hill Farmstead Brewery
> Location: Greensboro Bend, Vermont

Sunny yellow in color, with low-key carbonation, this is an elegant, complex beer, with honey and vanilla in the earthy nose and a faintly funky flavor with hints of tart apples, citrus fruits, and white pepper.

17. O.W.K.
> Style: Imperial stout
> Brewery: Side Project Brewing
> Location: Maplewood, Missouri

Look for layer upon layer of flavor in this jet-black vanilla-heavy stout – the vanilla coming from the repeated addition of Ugandan vanilla itself and then the oaky vanillin lent by aging in three different rye and bourbon casks. Then there’s a distinct smack of chocolate and some toasty malt with earthy undertones. This is a beer with lots to unpack.

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16. Very Hazy
> Style: New England IPA
> Brewery: Tree House Brewing Co.
> Location: Charlton, Massachusetts

Big brother to Tree House’s popular Haze, this is a very tasty IPA, medium-to-light in body, with an abundance of fruit – orange, lemon, melon, pineapple…you name it…and a nice edge of hoppy bitterness to counterbalance the sweetness.

15. CBS (Canadian Breakfast Stout)
> Style: Stout
> Brewery: Founders Brewing Co.
> Location: Detroit, Michigan

Dark, smooth, sweet, and oaky, this luxurious stout is concocted with what its brewers call “a blend of coffees and imported chocolates” and aged in bourbon barrels that had previously held Michigan maple syrup – adding up to a complex and satisfying confection.

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14. Inherited Wisdom
> Style: English dark mild ale
> Brewery: Westbound & Down
> Location: Lafayette, Colorado

Luminous mahogany brown in color, with a toasty, yeasty nose, this seductive dark ale offers a flavor suggesting Anadama bread glazed with caramel and a smooth, unctuous texture.

13. Fundamental Observation
> Style: Imperial Stout
> Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing
> Location: Anaheim, California

A heady imperial stout (14.3% ABV), blended with Madagascar vanilla beans and aged in bourbon barrels, this rich, dark beer surprises the palate with the subtlety of its oak and whiskey flavors, and leaves a very agreeable aftertaste.

12. Zombie Dust
> Style: IPA
> Brewery: 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
> Location: Munster, Indiana

Elegant proof that a beer doesn’t need a lot of added flavors to be complex and immensely satisfying, this textbook-perfect pale ale, strongly flavored with Yakima Valley Citra hops, is attractively resinous in the nose, fruity, and yeasty.

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11. Two-Hearted Ale
> Style: IPA
> Brewery: Bell’s Brewery
> Location: Comstock, Michigan

This exemplary IPA, named for the Two Hearted River in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is well-rounded, fresh, and smooth, with plenty of malt supporting forthright hop aromas and a piney hops flavor.

10. Pliny the Younger
> Style: Triple IPA
> Brewery: Russian River Brewing Co.
> Location: Santa Rosa, California

Russian River’s superlative Pliny the Elder (see No. 3) is a double IPA. This piney, floral offering, rich but suave, with a touch of smooth sweetness, is a triple – made with roughly three times the usual ration of hops, which announce themselves vividly.

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9. King JJJuliusss
> Style: Double IPA
> Brewery: Tree House Brewing Co.
> Location: Charlton, Massachusetts

Not to be confused with the Tree House’s Julius, King Julius, or JJJulius IPAs (also all worth trying), this is an immensely rich, hops-forward brew offering a whole bouquet of fruit aromas and a pronounced bitterness in the mouth.

8. Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout – Double Barrel Aged
> Style: Imperial stout
> Brewery: Cigar City Brewing
> Location: Tampa, Florida

A rich, thick, black stout, double barrel-aged in rum and apple brandy casks, with cacao nibs, ancho and pasilla chiles, cinnamon, and Madagascar vanilla beans, this powerful (11% ABV) brew is rich enough to eat for dessert.

7. Barrel-Aged Abraxas
> Style: Imperial stout
> Brewery: Perennial Artisan Ales
> Location: St. Louis, Missouri

Very dark, almost black, and viscous, this spicy seasonal imperial stout is brewed with cinnamon sticks, ancho chiles, cacao nibs, and vanilla beans and aged for a year in Rittenhouse Rye barrels.

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6. Blessed
> Style: Imperial stout
> Brewery: Anchorage Brewing Co.
> Location: Anchorage, Alaska

Black and heavy, with plenty of oak from its aging in bourbon barrels and a serious kick (at 14% ABV), this hearty Alaskan beer is finished with coconut and vanilla beans, for an exotic confectionary character.

5. Mornin’ Delight
> Style: Imperial stout
> Brewery: Toppling Goliath Brewing Co.
> Location: Decorah, Iowa

Gorgeously rich and well-balanced, this serious stout, brewed with coffee and maple syrup, is medium-rich and sweet but manages to avoid being cloying, and closes with a long, luscious finish.

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4. KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout)
> Style: Imperial stout
> Brewery: Founders Brewing Co.
> Location: Detroit, Michigan

A rich, dark, malty, earthy imperial stout brewed with what Founders calls “a massive amount of coffee and chocolates.” If you like your beer richly textured and pleasingly sweet, this one’s for you.

3. Pliny the Elder
> Style: Double IPA
> Brewery: Russian River Brewing Co.
> Location: Santa Rosa, California

Malty and nicely bitter, this imperial double IPA – offering an earthy, grassy hops character in the nose (it has been described as a “hop bomb”) and plenty of malt and citrus on the harmonious palate – inspires intense affection among IPA lovers, for good reason.

2. Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout
> Style: Stout
> Brewery: Toppling Goliath Brewing Co.
> Location: Decorah, Iowa

Ranked No. 1 on the most recent Beer Advocate listing of America’s top 250 beers, with a score of 4.83/5, this imperial stout is dark, dense, sweet, complex, smooth, and memorable, combining flavors of chocolate, coffee, maple syrup, bourbon, figs, toffee, and vanilla to what its many fans consider transcendent effect.

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1. Heady Topper
> Style: Double IPA
> Brewery: The Alchemist
> Location: Waterbury, Vermont

The classic hard-to-find New England double IPA continues to knock it out of the park with its forthright bitterness and complex interweaving of floral, citrusy, and piney flavors. It’s the kind of beer you don’t forget once you’ve managed to try it. As one Beer Advocate reviewer put it, it might well be considered “the granddaddy that today’s IPAs were born from.”

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