The 25 Essential Craft Beers You Must Try


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The 25 Essential Craft Beers You Must Try

Keep in mind there are now over 5,000 breweries in the United States. Whether you’re new to craft beer or are diving into the best and brightest brewers across our 50 states, choosing a beer is getting harder and harder with every year. That’s where we come in. This non-comprehensive and unofficial list is a good start, just a taste of all the amazing old and new beers available. Here are 25 beers every beer lover should try at least once:

AleSmith Old Numbskull: American Barleywine, 11% ABV

25 beers for beer loversThis barleywine has won three Great American Beer Festival awards, in 2008, 2011, and 2013, plus two World Beer Cup medals, in 2008 and 2012. It’s extremely well-balanced and full-bodied and can be paired with anything from roasted meats to stews to a variety of pungent cheeses.

Allagash White: Witbier, 5% ABV

25 beers for beer loversSpiced with their own special blend of coriander and Curaçao orange peel, this Belgian-style wheat beer has won numerous awards, including gold at the Great American Beer Festival in 2015 and gold in the World Beer Cup in 1998, 2010, and 2012. Clove, banana, and orange notes dominate the taste, but in a deliciously balanced and subtle way.

Allagash Black Ale: Belgian-style Stout, 7.5% ABV

25 beers for beer loversWhat can I say? Allagash brews some of the most delicious craft beers on the market. Technically, there is no such thing as a traditional Belgian stout, the good folks at Allagash don’t always follow the rules. With torrified wheat, roasted barley, chocolate malt, black malt, and a generous portion of dark caramelized candi sugar, this beer is a little easier to drink that some regular stouts and finishes clean.

Bell’s Expedition Stout: Russian Imperial Stout, 10.5% ABV

25 beersChocolate, dark fruits, coffee, and molasses come together in this warming and super smooth and complex beer. This is one of the best RIS on the market, and one that gets even better with age.

Brauerei Aying Ayinger Celebrator: Dark Doppelbock, 6.7% ABV

25 beers for beer loversThis is a full-bodied beer showing off notes of caramel, toasted malts, and mild notes of dark fruit. This is a deliciously complex and well-balanced beer with notes of root beer, black licorice, cinnamon, plum, and dark roasted malts. Touches of alcohol warmth give it a gorgeous, long finish.

Cigar City Guava Grove: Farmhouse Ale, 8% ABV

25 beers for beer loversThis award-winning brewery brews Guava Grove in tribute to Tampa’s fruity nickname. It’s brewed with a French strain of Saison yeast with a secondary fermentation on pink guava puree. With this beer, experience some barnyard flavors, carbonation, guava (of course), pepper, citrus, watermelon, clove, and wheat.

Deschutes The Abyss: American Double/Imperial Stout, 11% ABV

25 beers for beer loversWith nearly immeasurable depth and complexity, you’ll want to dive into the abyss at least once. This is barrel aged for 12 months in bourbon, Oregon oak, and Pinot Noir barrels.

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA: India Pale Ale, 9% ABV

25 beers for beer loversIt’s named after the amount of time it’s continuously hopped, providing a smack-you-in-the-face hop bitterness, while a good amount of malt sweetness provides balance. Notes of pine, pineapple, and honey lend to its drinkability.

Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA: American IPA, 7.5% ABV

25 beers for beer loversThis is pretty darn close to a perfect beer, in my book. The bouquet is crammed with Pacific Northwest hops. Notes of lemon, pineapple, papaya, plus wonderful pine traits, give it a juicy and resinous quality.

Founders KBS: Imperial Stout, 12.4% ABV

25 beers for beer loversThis world-class beer is available in April, so mark your calendars. Take your time with this sipper to fully taste all of the layers: coffee, brown sugar, chocolate, vanilla, licorice, charred nuttiness, and bourbon. After sitting in oak bourbon barrels for a year, KBS emerges with a boozy sweet bourbon profile.

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout: Imperial Stout, 13.8% ABV

25 beers for beer loversThis stout is aged in bourbon barrels. It smells like a bourbon dessert with sweet caramel up front. The complex notes include plums, figs,  and milk chocolate. This is decadence, in a glass.

Green Flash Palate Wrecker: Double IPA, 9.5% ABV

25 beers for beer loversThis beer is the American Double’s of American Double’s. The appropriately named Imperial IPA has thick, sticky, chunky lacing and pistol blazing intense bitterness. The pineapple, mango, and grapefruit sweetness are perfectly balanced with the insanely high number of IBUs.

Jolly Pumpkin La Percela: Pumpkin Ale, 5.9% ABV

25 beers for beer loversThis is a perfect fall beer with notes of pumpkin, cinnamon, brown sugar, chocolate, caramel, lemon zest, sour cherries, and toast. This isn’t your average pumpkin ale, as it finishes with a refreshing tart sourness.

Kern River Brewing Citra: Imperial IPA, 8% ABV

25 beers for beer loversThis obviously citrus-forward beer is just about faultless. There are lingering notes of lemon cake, candied mango, and chocolate-covered strawberries. Citra is bright and fresh with a creamy mouthfeel.

Lagunitas A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale: Pale Ale, 7.5% ABV

25 beers for beer loversThe balance between malt and hop in this wheat ale is outstanding. With grapefruit, pine, mandarin, and a hint of bready wheat malt sweetness, this is an interesting take on the two beer styles. The flavor is bright and clean, with an excellent harmony of citrus hops and sweet malts.

Pizza Port/Lost Abbey Cuvee de Tomme: American Wild Ale, 11% ABV

25 beers for beer loversThe brewery made famous for brewing amazing Belgian-style beers decided to brew an unconventional sour brown ale in 1999. Made from four fermentable sugars, it’s fully fermented before being placed in bourbon barrels where it ages for one year with sour cherries. Think cherry, oak, vanilla, bourbon, and brown sugar forming a booze-soaked cherry dessert, in a glass.

Russian River Pliny the Elder: Double IPA, 8% ABV

25 beers for beer loversBeer drinkers have been known to stand in line to be able to enjoy this limited-supply double IPA. You’ll see this proof with the bottling date printed on each bottle. This is – by far – the easiest IPA to imbibe. It’s powerful, fragrant, amazingly complex, yet very smooth and clean.

Saison Dupont: Saison, 6.5% ABV

25 beers for beer loversThis must-try beer is a top fermentation beer with refermentation in the bottle. Since 1844, this beer has been brewed at La Brasserie Dupont’s farm-brewery. Hints of banana, pineapple, tropical fruit, pear, and black pepper finish with a distinctly German hop flavor. In the background hangs a light screen of barnyard funk.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale: American Pale Ale, 5.6% ABV

25 beers for beer loversThis is a classic home brewer’s dream that turned into one of the most iconic beers in the craft beer world. A generous amount of premium Cascade hops give the Pale Ale its fragrant bouquet and spicy flavor. It’s piney with a citrus hop aroma and a slightly dry finish.

Stone Brewing: Imperial Russian Stout, 10.6% ABV

25 beers for beer loversGo ahead and enjoy this sinfully decadent, black-as- night beer now or age it at cellar temperature. Or, buy two and do both! This is heavy on dark fruits, molasses, chocolate, coffee, and licorice, with a hint of alcohol burn. This is one of the best RIS’s on the market.

The Alchemist Heady Topper: Double IPA, 8% ABV

25 beersBrewed out of Vermont, this is a world-class beer. The scent is an immediate burst of tropical hops like pineapple, mango, grapefruit, and peach. A hoppy start flexes and finishes into a malty finish, while staying incredibly smooth.

The Bruery Black Tuesday: Imperial Stout, 19.2% ABV

25 beersReleased on the final Tuesday of October every year, this beer is their take on a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout. The nose is typically all dark chocolate, roasted coffee, toasted oak, and bourbon. Despite its decadence and booziness, it’s wonderfully smooth. This is a brewer’s masterpiece. Pair with braised sasquatch short ribs.

Three Floyds Zombie Dust: Pale Ale, 6.2% ABV

25 beers for beer loversThis intensely hopped and gushing undead pale ale pours peachy gold and gives off big aromas of citrus and tropical fruits. The taste is toasty buttered breadiness and, like the aromas, really ripe tropical fruitiness. This is an exceptional beer.

Three Floyds Dark Lord: Russian Imperial Stout, 15% ABV

25 beers for beer loversThis RIS is brewed with coffee, Mexican vanilla, and Indian sugar. Not for the faint of heart, Dark Lord is among the most opaque and black stouts on the market. And what you smell is delivered in the taste: dark chocolate, cherries, plums, caramel, roasted malt, and burnt sugar. I suggest sipping it on a cold, snowy night.

Victory Prima Pils: German Pilsner, 5.3% ABV

25 beers for beer loversThis signature pils is brewed with heaps of whole flower European hops and fine German malts.  You may notice grassy, cracker, and pepper notes on the nose and pear, white grape, and hoppy bitterness in the taste. This isn’t your average pilsner. Enjoy it alone or with seafood or burgers.

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