Expert-Approved

The 45 Best Beers of the Year, According to Brewers and Beer Geeks


December 21, 2019 Drinks By

With over 7,500 breweries in America and many others around the world, a large majority of which place a premium value on providing consumers with a variety of new offerings each year, attempting to create a compendium of the best beers of 2019 is an impossible task.

That’s not to say we didn’t encounter plenty of top-tier beers, including everything from lagers fit for the fall and revolutionary IPAs. But it all amounts to a tiny fraction of the fluid ounces released over the past 12 months by breweries in all 50 states. So we sought the help of 45 respected beer pros around the globe, asking each to share their favorite new brew of the year, with the only requirement being they select something outside of what they produced or were involved in producing.

From hazy and hop-loaded IPAs to spritzy bottle-conditioned sours and crisp helles lagers, here are the year’s best new beers, as told by industry professionals. How many of the below did you try this year?

Editor’s Note: Some responses have been edited for clarity and length.

Moksa Joyous Almonds

ABV: 13.0%
From: Rocklin, CA
“Probably one of, if not the best, adjuncted stout I’ve ever had. Great aromatics. Amazing body. Not overly sweet or viscous. Packed with toasted almonds, Ugandan vanilla beans, and Filipino coconut, all the flavors advertised were there. Just an excellent stout all around. The dudes at Moksa really did outdo themselves on this one. It literally tasted like a liquid almond joy.” — Sam Zermeno, owner and brewer at Brujos

Oxbow Pils & Love

ABV: 4.5%
From: Portland, ME
“This has to be the largest collaboration of all time. Approximately 40 of the breweries participating in this year’s Pils & Love festival, hosted at Oxbow in July, came together to create a stellar pilsner with floral aroma hops, light bittering, and a dry clean, malt profile. One of the many reasons I love the Pils & Love fest is because it’s a gathering of like-minded brewers and customers. No gimmicks, just world-class pilsners, swimming at a lighthouse, and an amazing international beer community who are averse to pretzel necklaces. Oxbow always kills it and this is one of my favorite beer festivals, that fortunately happens to be in my backyard.” — Shahin Khojastehzad, co-owner of Novare Res Bier Cafe

The Kernel Bière de Saison Goldings

ABV: 5%
From: London, England
“In a sense, most of the beers released by The Kernel are ‘new.’ Every successive IPA or pale ale or table beer recipe features an updated hop bill, or tweaked techniques; every barrel-aged release is by nature limited and unique. But of all the new beers the Kernel released this year, its Bière de Saison Goldings—recently released after a couple years of barrel- and bottle-aging—was probably my favorite. A traditional English hop known for its earthy, rustic quality, Goldings isn’t exactly sexy in this era of Mosaic and Galaxy, but this saison showed off its subtlety beautifully. On the nose, it featured notes of tea leaves and grassy chlorophyll, and on the palate its sourness was mellow and modulated, its body full and bright.” — Claire Bullen, editor at Good Beer Hunting and author of The Beer Lover’s Table

Alvarado Street Good ‘n Fresh

ABV: 6%
From: Monterey, CA
“While the last few years have been a constant barrage of hazy IPA innovation, some West Coast breweries are staying true to their roots and redefining the style that inspired us all. With Alvarado Street, you can always expect extreme hop expression, but damn! I opened a can of Good ‘n Fresh—hopped with Strata and Riwaka—while camping in the redwoods and it was insane how the aroma of white grape and tangerines immediately silenced the entire pine forest around me. The first gulp was an affirmation of the bright citrus and tropical fruits that my nose had been blasted with, but the finish maintained the iconic dank herbaceousness that we’ve come to expect and love from West Coast-style hop bombs. In the past, IPAs of this nature would mule-kick your larynx with bitterness, but the lords of lupulin at Alvarado Street sure have mastered the modern interpretation of a style that defined a generation.” — Vito Trauz, marketing and brand director at Brouwerij West

Threes Brewing In Limbo

ABV: 5.2%
From: Brooklyn, NY
“We were pouring beers in the heat of Miami at Wakefest last February, surrounded by imperial stouts and double IPAs, when Joel [Ford, brewer at Threes] handed us a can of In Limbo, the foudre-fermented pils the brewery had just released for its fourth anniversary. It was just the refresher we needed. I’ve loved everything Threes has done in foudres, and the immaculate In Limbo was no exception. We savored every sip of it and though I only had half a can I’ve thought about that beer many times since that day almost a year ago.” — Daniel Endicott, co-founder and brewer at Forest & Main Brewing Company

Side Project Beer: Barrel: Time 2019

ABV: 15%
From: St. Louis, MO
“Side Project released the third vintage of ‘BBT’ this year and it is somehow even better than last year’s dazzling offering. This barrel-aged imperial stout does not rely upon the pageantry of adjuncts or needless flavor additions. As the name implies, it is simply malt, staves, and duration. In a consumer basis crowded with quick cash grabs or attention-seeking nonsense being thrown into the mash tun, this beer flexes with the powerful irony of excessive minimalism. It sheets with waves of Willett bourbon, coffee cake, split firewood, burnt macaroon, a lightly umami brackishness, and a long cocoa lacquer swallow. It is confectionary shop class in the best way possible.” — Alex Kidd, founder of DontDrinkBeer.com and cohost of “Malt Couture”

Hill Farmstead Rhetorica

ABV: 4.8%
From: Greensboro Bend, VT
“I was lucky enough to try Rhetorica at the amazing Armsby Abbey bar in Worcester, Massachusetts, on a frigid day in February, off an authentic Czech side-pull faucet. It’s great to see more and more U.S. craft breweries take up the mantle and brew more dark lagers traditionally. Hill Farmstead’s version is a nod to the Old World, brewed using a single decoction and oak aged for three months. It reminded me of a super clean porter but with notes of toffee and raisin. A simple request: more dark lagers please!” — Em Sauter, advanced cicerone and author of Pints and Panels and Beer is for Everyone!

White Lion Purrlicious

ABV: 6%
From: Springfield, MA
“When owner Ray Berry told me he was bringing this New England-style IPA to Fresh Fest, I knew right away it was going to be a standout. And I was right. Brewed with Sabro and Loral hops, it starts off with a floral and tropical aroma and finishes fruity and juicy. Another really great beer in the White Lion portfolio, and another reason to love what Ray and his team are doing in the Springfield community and beyond. Being an African-American brewery owner, he’s a huge inspiration and important part of what we do with the festival and platform.” — Mike Potter, founder of Black Brew Culture and co-founder of Fresh Fest Beer Fest

Homage Vin Violetta

ABV: 9.5%
From: Pomona, CA
“In 2019 I found my curious brain exploring new forms of fermented beverages outside beer. Vin Violetta is a perfect representation of Homage’s brilliance in blending and fermentation by combining naturally fermented malbec grape must and complex wild ale from their barrel program. A beer so complex and unique that it challenged me to take a step back, think, and appreciate that beers like this exist.” — Dave Martin, owner and brewer at Mindful Ales

Brasserie de la Senne Wadesda Lager

ABV: 4.9%
From: Brussels, Belgium
“The very first bottom-fermented beer brewed by de la Senne, Wadesda Lager is simply beautiful. Bone dry, crisp, bright, and bitter, with floral notes in the nose. Also, lemon and a matchstick, just lit. This was brewed with Eric Toft, Private Landbrauerei Schönram brewmaster and lager virtuoso. We knew it would be dynamite.” — Greg Engert, beer director and partner at Neighborhood Restaurant Group

Tired Hands Adaptive Distortion

ABV: 3.5%
From: Ardmore, PA
“I’m loving the movement of farmhouse and mixed-fermentation table beers. Add in sexy hops like Nelson Sauvin, Motueka, and New Zealand Cascade like Tired Hands did here—before a brief fermentation in oak and bottle conditioning—and you’ve really won my heart. You have less yeast stress and alcohol affecting the hops, and all the biotransformation and hydrolysis. Most mixed-ferm brewers I talk to are getting more into this, and I anticipate crazy diversity out there on the style. Tart and lively with notes of passionfruit, pineapple, and sauvignon blanc grapes, Adaptive Distortion was so fucking good that I finally went and started a solera project to make some myself.” — Tim Matthews, VP of global brewing at CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective

HOMES Metaform (Key Lime)

ABV: 5%
From: Ann Arbor, MI
“I stopped drinking beer in July because I was diagnosed with celiac disease, but before that happened, this milkshake IPA with key lime and vanilla really impressed me. It was a crazy flavor explosion in a style I normally avoid, but HOMES does a fantastic job with its rotating Metaform series. Another highlight of mine involving their team this year was collaborating together on a mixed-culture beer for their annual Nucleate fest.” — Mitch Ermatinger, co-owner of Speciation Artisan Ales

Burgeon Reclaim the Wild

ABV: 6.5%
From: Carlsbad, CA
“Reclaim the Wild was one of the year’s most important beers. No stranger to charitable contributions, Burgeon has partnered with the National Forest Foundation and pledged to plant 25,000 trees in national forests over the next year, and Reclaim is the vehicle to do so. For every pint and can of this IPA that was sold on its release day, a tree will be planted in a national forest, with the first 5,000 helping to reforest land devastated by 2018’s Camp Fire in Northern California. That aside, it’s the perfect example of what I think the modern West Coast IPA is, influenced by the haze movement, marked with late hop additions and a heavy dry hop to showcase softer bitterness than older examples of the style. This is hopped with Chinook, Citra, and Cascade, creating heavenly aromas of citrus and resinous pine. It finishes fairly dry which keeps you coming back for more. Burgeon is making some of the best West Coast IPAs in the industry, but I love that the brewery uses its platform to raise awareness for important charitable causes.” — Ryan Alvarez, head brewer at Harland Brewing Company

Brasserie de la Senne Imperial Donkey

ABV: 8.8%
From: Brussels, Belgium
“We got invited to pour at the epic, annual Shelton Brothers festival, a can’t-miss international beer celebration held in a different city every year. Late in the final evening I traded one of my oldest industry friends, Yvan de Baets of Brasserie de La Senne, a saison of ours for this collaboration he brewed with Bellwoods in Canada. Early the next day, unable to check luggage due to a route change, I decided to drink it right there in the lobby, pre-security. It was 11:00 a.m., the festival had been ideal; this made perfect sense. A mixed-fermentation English imperial stout inspired by the sort of ink-stained, barrel-aged, mid-19th century elixirs of Victorian England, pouring scarlet black with tart, deep, flavors of wine-soaked orchard plums and dark cherries, Imperial Donkey would be the ideal toast. Of course, it ended up gushing all over the lobby like the elevator scene in ‘The Shining.’ Leaving the suspiciously foaming bottle, I scrambled for paper towels and back to enjoy my beer. It was one of the best I’ve had in ages—and no one batted an eye. Thanks, Yvan!” — Christian DeBenedetti, founder and head brewer at Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery

Schilling Palmovka

ABV: 5.2%
From: Littleton, NH
“When done right, pilsners are absolutely delicious, and are a great barometer of a brewery. So they’re usually the first thing I try if I’m visiting one for the first time. Schilling has always done the style well, but when I had this Czech-style pilsner this past fall, the floral notes on the nose and balance between the grassy malt and the bitterness of the hops just nailed it for me. Really great beer.“ — John Bonney, co-founder of Foundation Brewing Company

Nøgne Ø BØLL 2019

ABV: 6%
From: Grimstad, Norway
“This was official festival beer of the Bergen Ølfest, from Norwegian breweries Nøgne Ø and Hansa. It’s a remarkable ale that could only come from Norway, a raw beer, mashed and run straight into fermentation, without use of a kettle, no boil. Then it’s fermented with a local strain of kveik yeast. The result is delicious, with the malty aroma of mash itself, which is what I miss most from my days of brewing. The kveik gives the beer floral and citrus notes, with a tangy tartness that invites you back for more. I drank it all day, between tastes of many other wonderful Norwegian beers, and it was the one I kept coming back to. Sometimes the most innovative beer is inspired by the most simple, rustic practices of the past.” — Greg Hall, founder of Virtue Cider and former brewmaster at Goose Island Beer Company

Industrial Arts Week 156

ABV: 6.8%
From: Garnerville, NY
“Industrial Arts is home to some of my favorite people in the industry, and maybe on the planet. Everything that Jeff ‘Chief’ O’Neil and his team makes is world class and worth chasing down, so of course I found a way to get their third anniversary beer—a twist on the brewery’s beloved Wrench IPA with a fresh dose of Galaxy and Vic Secret hops. Not only is this special-edition hazy IPA a showcase of the crew’s insane talent—Chief’s role in pushing the IPA game cannot be understated—but a prime example of the immense impact that freshness has on hops. Massive aromas jumped out of the can I had. Passionfruit! Mango! Tangerine! Peach! Months later, I’m still thinking about the beer and very much missing it, though one week further from the brewery’s third anniversary means one week closer to its fourth, and hopefully new beer to celebrate.” — Gage Siegel, founder of Non Sequitur Beer Project

Tripping Animals Vortex of Darkness

ABV: 11.3%
From: Miami, FL
“The amigos at Tripping Animals are like an extended branch of the family tree. These guys are one of the most hospitable groups of animales in the Miami beer scene and have done a great job representing south Florida by brewing beers that push the expectations of what a beer can truly be. Creamy, smooth, and decadent, this imperial stout with coconut, hazelnut, and cacao nibs hits all the flavors I’m looking for in a ‘pastry bio.’ It’s a perfect liquid dessert deep in rich chocolate, with hints of caramel, vanilla, and coconut. I first had it in the evening, at home, sitting in the backyard with the wife, and poured out of a 500-milliliter bottle. It was everything I wanted it to be.” — Alex Gutierrez, front of house manager at Unseen Creatures Brewing & Blending

Primitive So Last Season: Nectarine

Photo: Stacey McMahan

ABV: 6.2%
From: Longmont, CO
“Primitive Beer is the latest brewery in a long line of amazing sour producers in Colorado, following in the footsteps of Casey, Black Project, Amalgam, and Westbound & Down. The exclusively spontaneous, barrel-fermented blendery gained some notoriety for producing boxed beer—purposefully uncarbonated sour ale packaged in a wine-in-box format. However, this side project from husband-and-wife duo Lisa and Brandon Boldt, who have jobs at Odd13 and 4 Noses respectively, recently began bottle conditioning its beers, resulting in beautifully funky, tart, bubbly brews like So Last Season: Nectarine, a two-puncheon blend matured for nine months on whole Hotchkiss nectarines. Sadly, this is one of their only offerings I’ve had the chance to sample, but what the Boldts are doing is quickly becoming one of my favorites, reminding me of The Referend, The Ale Apothecary, or Sante Adairius.” — John Paradiso, managing editor at Hop Culture

Alma Mader Premiant

ABV: 5.0%
From: Kansas City, MO
“For a brewery that hasn’t been open a year yet, Alma Mader has quickly risen to the top of my favorite spots in Kansas City. While brewer and owner Nick Mader alternates between hazy IPAs, classic Belgian styles, and a variety of stouts with ease, Premiant is the standout for me. Brewed with all Bohemian malts, Czech hops, and lagered for nearly a month, this Czech-style pilsner offers subtle notes of lemon and earthy spice subtly balanced by a soft malt sweetness. Premiant is crazy crisp and impossibly clean.” — Jeremy Danner, on-premise specialist and brand ambassador for 4 Hands Brewing Company

Brasserie Dupont Brewers’ Bridge

ABV: 6.1%
From: Tourpes, Belgium
“I love collaborations and when Dupont and Allagash, two of the best to do Belgian-style beers come together, it’s hard not to love it. This saison was brewed with American Cascade hops and fermented with Dupont’s yeast. It was bready, fruity, and delicately spicy in every way a classic saison should be.” — Jan Chodkowski, partner and head brewer at Our Mutual Friend Brewing

Celestial Beerworks Newton’s 2nd Lager

ABV: 5.2%
From: Dallas, TX
“While the brewery is more known for its New England-style IPAs, this Amarillo-hopped pilsner checks all the lager boxes for me: crisp, clean, and I can sit and drink six of ‘em. Owners Matt and Molly Reynolds are amazing folks doing amazing things down there in Dallas.” — Todd Holder, head brewer at Prairie Artisan Ales

Hill Farmstead Memoria

ABV: 5%
From: Greensboro Bend, VT
“The only beer that comes to mind when asked this question is this wood-conditioned, naturally carbonated helles lager, which I had pulled off a side-pull tap in September. It was life altering. There was this unique dichotomy of wanting to slug down the beer in seconds interplaying with the desire to sip and savor it; an even match between drinkability and respect for the process that Shaun Hill is exploring with these puncheon-lagered beers. The future is lager.” — Zac Ross, owner and brewer at Marlowe Artisanal Ales and head brewer at 12 Percent Beer Project

Heirloom Rustic Ales The Figure and the Vow

Photo: Jessica Roux

ABV: 5.8%
From: Tulsa, OK
“Heirloom is a small young brewery pushing classic vibes into the modern day. This wild ale pulls inspiration from white burgundy, offering lush creaminess, structured acidity, and a strong mineral edge from extended time on lees in fresh oak and gentle bottle conditioning.” — Brian Strumke, founder and brewer at Stillwater Artisanal

Stockholm Italopils

ABV: 5.2%
From: Stockholm, Sweden
“Lately, when I think about ‘best’ beers, it has to involve a full-on experience integration. I have the joy of sharing and enjoying a lot of really good beers, so best has to be reserved for the moments when everything happening around you elevates a certain brew to the level of best. I had one of those beers in Sweden recently, at the release party for Italopils. Like many of us I’ve been swept up in ‘lager fever,’ so I was stoked when I happened to be in town for Stockholm’s unveiling of its Italian-style pilsner: crisp but inviting, with superb balance from gentle dry-hopping and mild malt sweetness. A sessionable ABV was the magic ingredient making for a dynamite pizza-party release. I could write a love song to the dough of the pies that seemed to effortlessly fly out of the kitchen, a sensory amusement park including sounds of friends’ laughter, smells of fresh pizza, and the taste of delicious pilsner. The evening ended with the whole team dancing together, Italopils in hand, while talking about ways we could support each other’s mental health in the craft-beer industry. To me, this is what a best beer is capable of doing.” — Gabe Barry, European education manager at Brooklyn Brewery

The Original 40 Chrispy Boi

ABV: 4.9%
From: San Diego, CA
“This is the best helles lager I’ve ever had. It’s as clean and crisp as they come, with perfect carbonation, resulting in a pillowy mouthfeel. It has light bitterness and the malt character is soft. It has a beautiful golden color, with an above-the-rim, fluffy head. I’ve had one on a scorching hot summer day, a rainy day, and a cold night, and it was equally enjoyable in all types of weather. The drinkability is unparalleled and has mass appeal to all kinds of beer drinkers. Flavorful, crushable, refreshing, and medium bodied; what more can you ask from a helles? Original 40’s brewer, Chris ‘Gigs’ Gillogly, knocked this lager out of the park!” — Kyle Harrop, founder and brewer at Horus Aged Ales

Ogopogo Peryton

ABV: 7.2%
From: San Gabriel, California
“Having just moved from Los Angeles, I’m constantly looking for anything that reminds me of home. Peryton is a new hazy IPA from Ogopogo, an amazing California brewery not too far from where I first started a little over two years ago, as an assistant brewer at Indie Brewing in Boyle Heights. I’m good friends with Jason [De La Torre, co-owner and brewer at Ogopogo], who also became a mentor for me. After Ogopogo opened in 2018, I would often visit the taproom to pick his brain about his brewing methods. Peryton gives off a beautiful aroma of citrus, pine, and mango. It uses a favorite OG hop of mine, Chinook, as well as Mosaic and Amarillo. Chinook and Amarillo give it a supercharge of lemons, grassy with pine characteristics, and allow the Mosaic to blend in its tropical-fruit notes. It has a slight bite but nothing too aggressive. We’re talking fun and flirty with no letdowns. Picture the best Tinder date you’ve been on and they text back. That’s the kind of experience I get with this beer.” — Breeze Coral Galindo, brewer at Other Half Brewing Company

Mikkeller Baghaven Nordlund’s Field Blend #2

ABV: 8.8%
From: Copenhagen, Denmark
Ehren Schmidt is Baghaven’s brewer and a close friend. This was made by handpicking several native Danish wine and table grapes that are grown together, and then macerating that ‘field blend’ of varietals on a blend of wild ales, and it hits all my beverage sweet spots. The nose is soft and pinot noir like, with a complimentary soft, tart, and slightly acidic flavor. Earthy and dry, with bright notes of bramble fruit, this wild ale encompasses everything I love about the marriage of wine grapes and beer.” — Libby Crider, co-owner of 2nd Shift Brewing

Hill Farmstead Soignée

ABV: 5%
From: Greensboro Bend, VT
“The best beer I thought I had in 2019 was Hill Farmstead’s Poetica 3, an old-world pilsner lagered in puncheons and naturally carbonated. In fact, it was so perfect that I just realized I had drank it on one of the very last days of 2018. I’ll stay in the Hill Farmstead lane, though, and recall a moment in the spring, when a friend shared a bottle of Soignée. This was the first iteration—the base being Brother Soigné, brewed with blood oranges and limes—conditioned atop raspberry, cherry, and northern kiwifruit pomace for nearly three months to yield as fantastically complex and expressive an ale as one would expect from Shaun Hill’s bucolic estate. With my friend Krista Scruggs making super unique cider at CO Cellars in Burlington, it makes me realize I need to pencil in my next Vermont visit ASAP.” — Katarina Martinez, marketing director and brewer at Market Garden Brewery

Brouwerij De Ranke Oud Bruin

ABV: 6%
From: Dottignies, Belgium
“This hasn’t yet been bottled, but De Ranke has brought a few kegs to some festivals this year. I love how the brewery is undisturbed by trends, and instead very thoughtfully reconsider old Belgian styles. Its version of oud bruin is a dry one without any trace of acetic acid, pretty round with lots of red berry character. Oud bruin isn’t exactly the most sexy style, but De Ranke gives it a more contemporary, drier twist here which makes it also very drinkable.” — Tom Jacobs, co-founder of Antidoot Wilde Fermenten

Zillicoah Skibsøl

ABV: 3.7%
From: Woodfin, NC
“John [Parks, brewer at Zillicoah] and I actually had a conversation about our favorite beer of 2019 a few weeks prior. He told me how much he enjoyed a pilsner I had made, and I immediately fired back that my favorite was this smoked rye lager. Brewed with Resident Culture and Casita Cerveceria, Skibsøl was open fermented with local applewood-smoked malt, rye, and Danish lager yeast, and was then lagered for eight weeks in a cooler within French oak barrels. Every element listed above was pulled off flawlessly in the beer, which led me to drink a lot of it at Resident Culture’s Lagerfest.” — Whit Baker, co-owner of Bond Brothers Beer Company, Ancillary Fermentation, and Standard Beer + Food

Mortalis Barrel Aged As Above So Below

ABV: 11.5%
From: Avon, NY
“I was fortunate enough to taste this coffee stout at the beer share put on for the brewers participating in 450 North’s Corn Maze fest. I was blown away by the smooth, full-bodied combination of flavors from the aging in Elijah Craig barrels, and the almost nutty flavor from coffee used.” — Armando DeDona, owner and brewer at Long Live Beerworks

Threes Constant Disregard

ABV: 5.7%
From: Brooklyn, NY
“I picked up a four-pack of this oak-aged smoked lager made in collaboration with Oxbow right around Halloween, and boy was it a perfect seasonal. Constant Disregard combines many of the things I love about beer lately. It’s challenging and structured but restrained and easygoing at the same time. The smooth, mellow richness is underpinned with a dark chocolate, Coca-Cola-like bitterness layered above smoldering leaves, deciduous detritus, and decaying trees. A late fall stroll through a New England forest in beer form. The fact that it comes as a collaboration between two of my favorite breweries is just icing on the cake. I’m sure it didn’t sell well considering the age of sweet-and-fluffy beer we’re living in, but I really, really dug it and I hope they make it again next year. Meanwhile, I’ll be hoarding the remaining reserves for winter.” — Justin Kennedy, producer of “Steal This Beer” and author of The Bucket List: Beer

Tired Hands L’Aldila

ABV: 6.4%
From: Ardmore, PA
“It could be assumed that we have a soft spot for any brewery that is as open about its love of metal as much as we are, and they would be correct. With that said, Tired Hands is continuously releasing beer that gets us hyped about the possibilities of brewing; we appreciate their approach of every beer being created without guidelines, but in the end always providing the drinker something refined and unique. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a Crowler of L’Aldilà and was truly impressed by the balance. In today’s sea of overly fruited sours, the brewery was able to strike a balance and accentuate the cranberry and bilberry fruit additions as well as the vanilla and tie them all together with a subtle touch of jasmine tea. Last but not least, this beer looked fucking awesome, rich and vibrant. 10 out of 10, would pound again!” — Ryan Lavery, co-owner and head brewer at Widowmaker Brewing

Jester King Moderne Dansk

ABV: 7.1%
From: Austin, TX
“Frederiksdal Kirsebærvin cherry wine is exquisite and I’m such a huge fan of Jester King and the brewery’s commitment to terroir in its beers. This wild ale was brewed with local grain and well water, aged in Danish cherry wine barrels, and then refermented with Stevnsbær cherry juice, which adds a gorgeous complexity. It’s one of the best beers I’ve ever had.” — Lee Lord, brewer at Cambridge Brewing Company

Unity Lumière

ABV: 4.4%
From: Southampton, England
“Most of my favorite beers were had after swimming outdoors and cooling down with something light and fruity, like this Belgian-style pale ale brewed with Pressure Drop. Low ABV but with an interesting farmhouse kick, paired with super stone-fruit hops, I loved drinking it with a friend on a sunny afternoon on Hampstead Heath.” — Charlotte Cook, brewer at Cloudwater Brewing Co.

Cerebral Inhabited Form

ABV: 5.6%
From: From: Denver, CO
“Some of my favorite 2019 beers have been Cerebral’s fouder-fermented lagers. Inhabited Form is delicious. It’s floral, bright, and crisp. It offers simplicity—with just the right amount of complexity, and a subtle hint of wood.” — Basil Lee, co-owner of Finback Brewery

Off Color Socks

ABV: 6.4%
From: Chicago, IL
“I loved this collaboration with Central State, a wild-fermented saison aged in a Barolo foeder with African dried lemons and black limes. The description sounds exotic, but in the glass it’s super soft with a bright acidity and a tinge of funk. It’s a wild ale with balance that begs revisiting.” — Jonathan Moxey, head brewer at Rockwell Beer Company

Calusa Neverwas

ABV: 8%
From: Sarasota, FL
“I was fortunate enough to taste this mixed-culture hazy IPA during a collaboration we were doing recently with The Eighth State, which brewed it with Calusa as well as DSSOLVR. The IPA was made and moved into a foeder with Calusa’s house culture of lactobacillus, pediococcus, and Brettanomyces, then it fermented in stainless for a week, for the dry hop. Then it cooled and was bottled conditioned the following week. It’s hard to believe such a complex and delicious beer was ready so quickly. There’s a perfect balance: juicy but dry, with a nice acidity and hop aroma from the dry hop of Mosaic, Chinook, and Citra.” — Todd DiMatteo, co-owner and brewer at Good Word Brewing & Public House

Floodland Meditation on Light 2019

ABV: 6.96%
From: Seattle, WA
“My love for Floodland Brewing is no surprise among friends, and it’s become a running joke that my appreciation is borderline obsessive. I feel it’s justified: The brewery is making some of the best wild ales in the country. Owner and brewer Adam [Paysse]’s creations are made with true intent, integrity, and patience. The beers aren’t rushed or hurried and truly showcase the art of balance. Take the newest iteration of Mediation on Light, an incredibly soft saison refermented on Washington State nectarines. The ripe stone fruit nose is intoxicating and the flavor reminds me of biting into the juiciest nectarine on a hot summer day. What sets this beer—and Floodland, in general—apart is the absence of acidity you’d get in similar fruit beers. Like all of Adam’s beers, there is softness and delicateness without losing the beautiful fruit expression, a true form of art. Floodland is really showcasing and shaping what wild beer can be, and I’m eternally grateful for that.” — Michelle DeLuca, social media marketing and events manager at Equilibrium Brewery

Bierstadt Lagerhaus Kleine Keller Rauchparty

ABV: 5.5%
From: Denver, CO
“This unfiltered smoked helles was a collaboration with Pizza Port, Westbound & Down, Freigeist Bierkultur, and local barbecue spot Owlbear, which smoked 10 percent of the malt. Offering a delicious balance between smoke and malt, Rauchparty was a one-time beer that I still dream of at night, in my lager dreams.” — Alyssa Thorpe, head brewer at Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery

Lost Province Tyrannosaurus Mex Lager

ABV: 4.5%
From: Boone, NC
“This Mexican-style lager is brewed with flaked corn, lime, and sea salt. The ingredients blend so perfectly together and made for a delicious beer when I had it at the brewery this past summer. It has also inspired me to brew a similar one in the future.” — M. David Gonzalez, director of brewing operations at Lost Worlds Brewing Company

Burning Sky Cider Apple Saison

ABV: 6.7%
From: East Sussex, England
“This is not only my favorite beer this year, it’s my favorite new trend: blending cider making and brewing disciplines. A collaboration between Matt Billing of Ascension Cider and Burning Sky’s owner and founder, Mark Tranter, it takes a blend of Dabinett and Harry Masters Jersey apples on which the brewery’s ‘stock’ Saison à la Provision is aged. Whilst fessing up that Mark is a friend he never fails to impress me, and Matt is an equally formidably-focused producer, both dedicated to treading their own paths and sharing an equal, single-minded sense of meticulous approach, whilst acknowledging in many ways they are just guardians of parts of the process. What amazed me was how this hybrid alters at every change of temperature. At chilled temperatures it has all the crisp refreshment of a minimal intervention cider, then as it warms the beer and cider became equal partners, with some hay and straw and lightly stewed apple mingled in camaraderie; then, when it is in the glass a while, the Brettanomyces and beer become more dominant, with a tiny hint of grain sweetness and surprising pop of candied orange at the end. It’s an exquisite marriage of artisan attitudes, production ethics, and sheer wizardry.” — Melissa Cole, author of The Beer Kitchen and The Little Book of Craft Beer

Highland Park High 5 Lager

ABV: 5.8%
From: Los Angeles, CA
“Highland Park has proven to be masters of dry-hopped lagers over the past few years. I was able to try this pilsner while hanging with their crew in Copenhagen at Beer Celebration. It was brewed for Highland’s fifth anniversary and is dry-hopped some of my favorite hops: Nelson, Strata, and Mosaic.” — Adam Beauchamp, co-founder and brewmaster at Creature Comforts Brewing Company

Fox Farm Xenia

ABV: 6.3%
From: Salem, CT
“Fox Farm is making some of the best farmhouse ales in the U.S., and this bière de miel brewed with Connecticut wildflower honey and rosemary, and fresh lemon peel, might be one of their best. It sings with notes of lemon with beautifully balanced acidity. The bottle is conditioned on another honey addition and every sip feels like it’s coating your mouth like a spoonful of fresh sweetness. It’s one of those beers that you can’t stop drinking and miss when it’s gone.” — Morgan Clark Snyder, owner and head brewer at Buttonwoods Brewery

Niko Krommydas

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