After drinking our way through the first presidential debate, one thing has become clear: We could all use a little pick-me-up right about now. Luckily, it’s American Craft Beer Month at VinePair — giving us an excuse to celebrate all things beer.
Though beercations were swiped from our calendars this year, one great thing about beer is its easy access. During the pandemic, for some of us, that meant drinking local to help keep our favorite breweries and beer stores around, while others turned to old favorites at the grocery store or available to order online.
Read on for our favorite beers to sip during socially distanced hangouts, virtual happy hours, and beyond.
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“I have been drinking more local beers than ever before. So many cans from Grimm, Other Half, Finback, Interboro, and Threes, especially. Some of these beers were easy enough to find at my local bottle shop before Covid, but others definitely were not. It’s tough to be happy about this, as the breweries are obviously all struggling so, so much, but it’s definitely allowed me to drink so many local beers I never would have otherwise.” —Josh Malin, president & co-founder
“Even during Covid, I was amazingly able to get access to fresh-hopped beer, a Holy Grail for beer nerds and a beer style that is only available once a year, right around fall harvest. This fall, I was lucky enough to drink Fresh Strata Hop IPA from Ferment Brewing Co., and it blew me away. So fresh, so hazy, so delicious. Was it my go-to beer? No, because it’s only available for a limited time. But it would be if it could be. —Adam Teeter, CEO & co-founder
“Blue Point Toasted Lager.” —Jason Russell, senior director, brand partnerships
“I unexpectedly spent the majority of 2020 back in my childhood home on Long Island, so I definitely ventured out to try more local beers around here. I came across Great South Bay Brewery Mango Starfish Summer Ale a few months ago, and I’ve been loving it! It’s really refreshing, crisp, and the perfect beer throughout the summer and even into the fall.” —Danielle Grinberg, art director
“I definitely have to go with Allagash White. It’s light, crisp and always perfect to crack open after a long day. I really love that you can taste the wheat as an aftertaste. And the fact that it’s lower in calories doesn’t hurt, either. It’s your perfect go-to beer.” —Gerry Selian, junior designer
“I don’t drink a ton of beer, but love the creativity I’m seeing in the emerging subcategory of fruited sours. My most exciting beer find in that area is Child of Zombie fruited sour by Kings County Brewers Collective. I’m a sucker for anything with passion fruit, and this beer delivers plenty of tart, tropical flavor (also mango and guava), plus a hit of tangy hibiscus. It’s refreshing, complex, and not at all sweet. My mouth waters even thinking about it!” —Erica Duecy, editor in chief & chief content officer
“This has been the year of sour beers for me, which feels fitting for 2020. My recent favorites have been Wild Little Thing from Sierra Nevada, and Sour Monkey from Victory Brewing.” —Katie Brown, editorial associate
“My go-tos have shifted with each phase of the pandemic (it’s been that long). In the beginning, it was Threes Brewing’s Logical Conclusion. This gem was stocked at my local grocer by some Covid miracle. In the summer, as we started getting outside more, I was all over shandies. My favorite was probably Market Garden Shandy from Cleveland — it’s a non-traditional mix of wheat beer and lemon juice, instead of the requisite lager or blonde ale. It’s so tasty, extra-lemony from the lemon peel, which I love. Finally, it’s Oktoberfest season! In the U.S., ‘festbier’ really means Märzen-style lager, which is better anyway. Victory’s Festbier (Märzen) blew me away this year. Its delectable malty sweetness, floral hops, and smooth texture had me fan-girling for an old favorite anew.” —Cat Wolinski, associate editor
“No question, 2020’s beer of choice for me was The Crisp Pilz from Sixpoint. The aroma is bright and floral, and the taste is clean and, well, crisp! It has a very manageable ABV (5.4 percent), so you can have a couple and still hang out. Best served as they suggest: Cold, and in a glass. My serve is always a pre-frozen pint glass. Perfect year-round! Cheers!” —Liz Cronin, VP of brand partnerships & sales
“I recently went through a phase of trying new beers based on what was available at my local liquor store. I landed on [The Bruery’s] Offshoot Beer Co.’s ‘Relax’ Hazy IPA one weekend, and it quickly became my go-to. Just as the name suggests, it’s perfect for unwinding on a Friday night after the work week!” —Jenny Riddell, director of brand partnerships & events
“One of my last days going out before the pandemic was spent at a local New Jersey brewery called Magnify Brewing. At their taproom, I enjoyed a fruited gose, Trade Proof. Different versions are released every so often, brewed with different combinations of fruits — from raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, guava, and boysenberry, to prickly pear and blood orange.” —Courtney Roberson, editorial intern
“Looking back over what I’ve been drinking in 2020, I realize I’ve unwittingly become a Covid cliché: More often than not, I’ve turned to higher-proof drinks, mainly cocktails and neat spirits. When I have enjoyed a beer, I’ve gone down the comforting, nostalgia route. For me that means Guinness, which always delivers when poured with a little precision from the can. Sláinte!” —Tim McKirdy, staff writer
“My 2020 beer drinking is at an all-time low, considering quarantine. However, whenever I’m at the store and have an extra hand to carry it, I grab Allagash White. It’s always refreshing, spicy, and reminds me of late nights with great friends.” —Jeff Licciardello, director of marketing