America now has more breweries than ever before, surpassing the 9,000 mark in 2021, so it shouldn’t at all be a stretch to conceive that some — probably many — delicious beers are overlooked and underrated.
Maybe they’re produced in limited quantities or by a little-known brewery. Maybe they’ve been around and considered outstanding for so long, the widespread attention and praise has moved on to the next shiny and new thing.
Whatever the reason, certain beers just don’t get the love they deserve. But that’s about to change. Yes, it’s time to give these underappreciated brews their flowers — even if they’re already made with the next big hop.
To find the most underrated beers, we asked 15 brewers around North America to share the suds they feel are being wrongfully slept on. From a pickle-packed gose to a Polish-style pilsner, here are the experts’ picks.
The Most Underrated Beers, According to Brewers:
- Rothaus Tannenzäpfle
- Radiant Brighter Than Sunshine
- La Fin Du Monde
- Queen City Munich Dunkel
- Yuengling Traditional Lager
- Otherland Haladuda Specjal
- East End Almost Famous Pickle Beer
- Trumer Pils
- Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower
- Labatt Blue
- Boomstick Gravel Pit
- 21st Amendment Brew Free! or Die
- Riegele Privat
- Thiriez Extra
- North Park Party Cup
“Rothaus Tannenzäpfle is popular in brewer circles but not really with the public, at least in our area. I think there’s something classic and timeless to the aesthetic of the bottle, and the quality of the liquid to me is perfect for pilsner. When fresh, it gives great flavor and complexity, while retaining the crispness and smooth nature of lager that you want in a daily beer. Plenty of hop character and just enough bitterness to be well balanced. We get so caught up in achieving crazy flavors, but seeing the timeless consistency of Rothaus is a true joy for us as well as a constant challenge to achieve better in our lager/pilsner program.” —Ryan McCay, head brewer, Living Waters Brewing, Nashville
“Anything I’ve had from Radiant Beer, a smaller brewery here in Orange County that is really killing it in the scene. It’s been great seeing their growth and trying anything they put out. My favorite is the Brighter Than Sunshine, a German-style pilsner served out of a side pull at the taproom, which creates a perfect head of foam.” —Chelsea Baloo, brewer, Modern Times Brewery, San Diego
“La Fin Du Monde is full-bodied yet still has enough carbonation to make it way too easy to drink. The spice character in the yeast shines through, the malt sweetness is bold, but nothing ever feels out of balance. Coming in at 9 percent ABV and staying remotely drinkable is something to admire. Belgian beers are overdue for a comeback, right? For now, I’m glad this great tripel-style ale from Unibroue is available almost everywhere.” —Mario Cortés, partner and head brewer, Here Today Brewery & Kitchen, Seattle
“There are so many breweries and beers that I feel don’t get the recognition they deserve, mainly due to the fact that they don’t chase trends but rather stick to the classic styles that they have dialed in. I think one of my all-time favorite styles of beer is a good dunkel. Not too many breweries dabble in the style these days, or at least it seems. Luckily for me, there is a brewery not so far from us in South Burlington that makes one of my favorite takes: Queen City Brewery’s Munich Dunkel. It has a really deep character that I can only describe as Bavarian pretzel and the color purple. And Queen City recently started canning it — chef’s kiss!” —Ryan Miller, co-owner and brewer, Freak Folk Bier, Waterbury, Vt.
“I think Yuengling Traditional Lager, like most lagers, is pretty underrated. I drank this when I was younger because it was the same price as Bud Light but way better tasting and still, today, you’ll find it in my fridge. Crisp and refreshing with just enough malt character. Perfect water profile and carbonation. This lager was one of the first that got me excited about starting our lager program and shooting for the balance and crushability that Yuengling is all about.” —Jordan Weisberg, owner and head brewer, Point Ybel Brewing Company, Fort Myers, Fla.
“Man, this is like choosing a favorite child! But Otherland’s Polish-style pilsner, Haladuda Specjal, from a side-pull tap is fire in a glass. There’s something ethereal that brewers aspire one day of catching in their best of dreams. Where brewers dream about their beers, it’s clear that Otherlands founder Ben Howe put in the hard work. Yes, he’s one of a small handful of elemental lager conjurers, but he ranks high in that league. How do you turn fire into water? How do you tame fire and transform it into something as simple, elegant, yet complex as this beer? I suspect patience, acute attention to detail, old soul, and abundance of knowledge of the raw ingredients to be the answer. Ben is years ahead of me, and I obsess about light lagers. He swears by Polish Lublin hops, which he says is ‘more four-dimensional’ than Czech Saaz. Personally, I’m not sure about decoction mashing, but he is the one guy that has my attention with the technique. He says it adds a more full body and bready malt character to Haladuda, which I firmly agree with. Then, there’s the side-pour debate. I could drink two pints in the time it takes Ben to pour a side-pour version, but I’m also a believer of quality over quantity. So, is the side pour ultimately worth it? Yes. Why? A foamy-creamy mouthfeel while drinking a perfect lager. Ben is among the very few pure-hearted, committed, and hardest working in the entire brewing industry that I have ever witnessed. If you asked me if there’s one destination brewery in all of Washington, at this point I’d say Otherlands for their lagers.” —Phil Pescheck, head brewer, Burke-Gilman Brewery, Seattle
“I wish East End’s Almost Famous Pickle Beer, a collaboration with Primanti Bros, a famous sandwich shop and restaurant in Pittsburgh, got more recognition. It’s a tart gose ale brewed with over 600 pounds of cucumbers, along with real coriander and dill. As an avid pickle lover as well as a Pittsburgh kid, tying in beer and food fusion with a favorite local brewery and restaurant was a must-try. I know pickles require a particular flavor preference, but this beer perfectly executed the dill pickle, salty gose character to make for an incredibly refreshing summer crusher. It’s the one beer every summer I beg my family and friends back home to grab cans for me! But I know pickles aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.” —Carly Brango, head brewer, Funguys Brewing, Raleigh, N.C.
“Trumer Pils has been awarded many times, so maybe it’s less underrated than it is simply underappreciated. With the growing onset of American-made craft pilsners that take inspiration from the giants of German and Czech brewing, you won’t hear much about this Austrian classic. It’s lean without being thin, hoppy without being astringently bitter, complex enough for the geeks, and yet extremely accessible for just about everybody. It’s inspired a lot of us here at Hopewell to the point that we’ll be brewing somewhat of an ode later this month with our friends at Niteglow. We’ll be happy if it’s half as good.” —Jake Guidry, brand director, Hopewell Brewing Company, Chicago
“Pilsners are having their moment, so why not kölsch? Saint Arnold’s take on the style, Fancy Lawnmower, is a perfect beer for when you want just a little bit of yeast-derived esters and still have crisp, noble hops for an overall clean, very drinkable vibe. This kölsch takes me back to my days before brewing was even a thought in my head. I loved drinking different beers from the burgeoning independent scene, and when I wanted something simple and refreshing, it was my go-to. Ten years in the industry later, with beer education, brewing, and beer judging now all under my belt, I’m happy to report it’s just as crushable and refreshing as ever.” —Lindsy Greig, brewer and cellar manager, Stomping Ground Brewing Co., Collingwood, Victoria, Australia
“Besides being the first beer I ever drank, Labatt Blue is one of the best macro lagers in the world because it, more than any other that I can think of, is exactly what it is supposed to be. Perfectly clean, flawless, incredible drinkability. And it still tastes like beer. Hops, sweet malt, the slightest touch of sulfur. No red or green apple; no banana esters. Truly, if there was ever a beer to simply crush and not have to think at all about it, it’s Labatt Blue.” —Jeff Erway, president, La Cumbre Brewing Co., Albuquerque, N.M.
“We don’t get a lot of international craft beers distributed in Newfoundland, Canada, so I’m going to stick to a local brewery that makes a beer I love and think more people should be drinking. When we were getting ready to try packaging into 12-ounce cans alongside our standard 16-ounce format, Boomstick Brewery in Corner Brook released short cans right before we did and started with the excellent Gravel Pit session IPA, designed by head brewer Mel Gielen. While in the neighborhood, the Boomstick team swung by to show me the labels they had done up for the 12-ounce cans. I was so excited for them. I grabbed an empty silver bullet and put one of their labels on it so they could see how great it would look. When the 6-pack went into distribution on our part of the island, we rushed out to get it and quickly crushed through it. Gravel Pit is lightly hopped with Galaxy and is 4.8 percent [ABV], so it’s perfect for summer afternoons in the backyard hanging out with the dog and barbecuing, which is how my husband/business partner and I like to relax on our days off.” —Christina Coady, co-owner and brewer, Landwash Brewery, Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, Canada
“21st Amendment doesn’t make bad beer, and Brew Free! or Die, its core West Coast IPA, deserves more attention. It’s actually pretty well rated but deserves a bump up. 21A was instrumental in developing the West Coast IPA style, and for a really good reason. Brew Free! or Die still holds up today as one of the best IPAs on the market, and y’all should be all over it.” —Kevin McGee, president, Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Boonville, Calif.
“This is going to sound a bit counterintuitive, as this beer has won a plethora of awards and comes from an extremely decorated brewery. But whenever I mention it, Riegele Privat just seems to draw a blank stare, and very few folks seem to be aware of it. However, in a world where the resurgence of the crispy lager is ever-growing, this festbier/Dortmunder export is just about the perfect porch drinker. From its moderate ABV, very slight malt lean, sparkling clarity, and a touch of Old World floral hop aroma, it is among the most immensely drinkable beers I’ve ever had the pleasure of crossing my lips. It passes both the dad test and the discerning brewer palate, with a hearty nod of appreciation from both. Perfect in its simplicity, if you find a case of these gold topped beauties, you’d best grab it before I do.” —Michael DeLancett, founder, Mythk Brewing, Lake Mary, Fla.
“While Orval, De La Senne Taras Boulba, and De Ranke XX Bitter seem to — deservedly — share plenty of love among brewers and hopefully increasingly amongst consumers, it always surprises me that I seldom hear even industry members discussing Thiriez Extra, one of the greatest beers of Europe. This is especially surprising given that Thiriez’s yeast, or at least an offshoot thereof, is supposedly the source of Wyeast’s French saison strain. Thiriez Extra, or Etoile du Nord in Europe, is bitter and dry with floral, herbal hops alongside a faint touch of citrus and a deliciously crisp finish. It may have less fanfare in the U.S. due to its more limited presence, but those who are lucky enough to spot it should ensure that they try it as soon as possible.” —Mike Thorpe, owner and brewer, Afterthought Brewing Company, Lombard, Ill.
“Party Cup, North Park’s all-Mosaic lager, stands above the rest. Now, before you jump the gun and say, ‘North Park is far from underrated,’ hear me out. In the past two years the team has become recognized nationwide as one of the premier producers of IPAs — not only West Coast, but New England even! — and their barrel-aged series is absolutely phenomenal. But where they, and many of us as brewers, tend to get zero notoriety is in the realm of lagers. Party Cup fulfills and exceeds the desire to create an incredibly flavorful, light-bodied, crisp, hoppy beer in a way that many IPLs, brut IPAs, and now cold IPAs have fallen short. Brewed with products seemingly reserved for high-end IPAs, Party Cup features Incognito, T-90, and Cryo versions of Mosaic resulting in wave after wave of tangerine, lemon, blueberry, and dank hop resin atop the simplest, cleanest lager they could create. Hats off to the crew at North Park; I could drink this beer every damn day!” —Alex Ellig, owner and brewer, BreakThru Brewing Company, Kent, Wash.