Our love for wine in this country grows all the time, and both cocktails and spirits (both well-known brands and regional craft offerings) are gaining an ever-increasing market share. But we are still, as a whole, a nation of beer drinkers.
According to a Gallup poll published last year, between 2001 and 2019 beer was our favorite alcoholic beverage — except for one unexplained anomaly in 2005, when wine slightly edged it out.
In 2019, for instance, while 3% of those polled had no clear preference, 38% said they preferred beer, versus 29% for wine and 30% for spirits. (In case you wondered how consumption breaks down, these are the states drinking the most beer.)
Of course, most of the beer we drink is mass-produced stuff; Bud Lite is the No. 1 brew by far, and it certainly has its place as a refreshing tipple. Lovers of craft beer, though, look for something more, choosing from an ever-growing wealth of artisanal ales, stouts, and other beers, characterized by complexity and unique combinations of flavors.
To assemble its list of America’s 40 most delicious beers, 24/7 Tempo consulted numerous rankings and reviews on specialist sites, including Beer Advocate, Hop Culture, Untapped, Craft Beer, Beer Xchange, and The American Homebrewers Association’s Zymurgy Magazine. We also considered rankings and reviews from general publications like Ranker, Paste, and Men’s Journal. While numerical scores were considered where given, consideration was also given to the comments of reviewers, both amateur and professional, in describing various beers.
Craft brewers love to experiment, so new beers are constantly pouring onto the market, and it’s not uncommon for a single producer to have a dozen or more beers on the market at one time. That means that, unlike choices from the big corporate brewers, craft brews change all the time.
While vintage years don’t mean the same thing they do with wine, many producers put them on their bottles to indicate that the example you’re drinking today probably isn’t the same as the one with the same name you had last year. These are the 35 most successful craft breweries in America.
24/7 Tempo has assembled a list of some of the country’s best craft beers, based on numerous online sources, both beer-specific and general. While taste in beer, like taste in anything, is highly subjective, and while it’s certain that not all beer-lovers will agree with our choices or the order we placed them in, we believe this is a fair representation of America’s most delicious beers.
Fair warning: Many craft beers are hard to find. Some are available only at the brewery, and some are only available for a very short time after release — for instance, Dark Lord, a Russian imperial stout made by Indiana’s 3 Floyd Brewing’s, sold on only one day a year. They can also be seriously expensive, in some instances $50 or $100 a bottle or more. And with the added flavorings, high alcohol content, and serious bitterness that characterizes some of them, every beer here won’t be to everyone’s taste — but taken as a whole, they represent the best of American craft brewing today.