About the only thing better than an ice-cold beer is a top-rated one that craft nerds fuss over. Frankly, finding those isn't always easy, as there are thousands of producers in the U.S. alone. Fortunately, we sampled a lot of beer this year and honed in on the very best of the bunch.
So, in the spirit of award season, we decided to pin a ribbon on a few of the very best. We know, there are hundreds of beer brands and styles to choose from and, by all means, explore. We hope to continue to do the same into 2023. For now, we've split things up into nine basic beer categories. If you're looking for a world-class stout or barnburner of a pilsner beer, this is your list.
Have a seat, pull out a glass, and enjoy our selections for the best beers of 2022.
It's no wonder that at least one of our favorite beers hails from San Diego. Southern California has become a real mecca for beer over the last decade and, being a West Coast town, it tends to like its hop-heavy brews.
Societe Brewing Company has turned out an absolute powerhouse IPA in The Pupil. This is a role model of an IPA: Balanced, crisp, tropical, and with just the right amount of offsetting bitter notes. It gets A+ ratings from the likes of RateBeer and Beer Advocate, and we're not at all surprised. This
Japas Cervejaria OISHII
Best wheat beer
Japas Cervejaria is a brand that should very much be on your radar. From its one-of-a-kind beers to its stellar ownership trio of three Japanese-Brazilian women, it's making waves and will be fun to watch in the years to come, especially as more and more becomes available in the States.
While all the brand's beers are solid, they excel at the session styles. This wheat beer doesn't even top 5% ABV, but it doesn't need to. It's all about refreshment and a genuinely harmonious flavor profile. It's a wheat beer, but per the Japas way, it's treated to some adjuncts — in this case, orange peel and ginger. It's outstanding, whether you're sipping it alone or having it with sushi.
Breakside Low Places
It was a stellar year for the lager, perhaps because we want to be functional while imbibing or because it just reminds us of a carefree summer. Well, a lager can be dark too, and this one is proof. Portland's Breakside Brewery is behind this lovely offering made as an homage to the ever-popular Texas beer Shiner Bock.
Don't let the dark hue fool you; it's very much a lager, meaning it's light on the palate and very refreshing. There's a small hit of bitterness, but it's a well-rounded animal overall, perfect for just about any old afternoon.
Toppling Goliath Pseudo Sue
Iowa's Toppling Goliath Brewing Company is perhaps best known for its darker beers (to survive those Midwest winters), but don't discount the rest of the lineup. In fact, the real dark horse is the Pseudo Sue, a single-hop pale ale bursting with flavor.
The Citra hop is the focus here, imparting real citrus notes of grapefruit and lemon peel. It's about as clean as they come, a beer that, if blind-tasted, would have you instinctively returning to again and again and again.
Sierra Nevada Stout
Sierra Nevada has been brewing this beer for 44 years. You can taste the experience in this fantastic, West Coast-style stout. It boasts a hefty malt bill and a trio of hops, making it a beer that touches your soul with its deep and robust flavors.
A little earthy, a little roast-y, and very well-rounded, this is a stout even for those who swear they don't like darker beers. It's also proof, like the lager above, that dark does not always mean heavy. It can mean graceful.
Roadhouse Brewing Company Highwayman
The pilsner is a brewer's beer: Not easy to make, but so easy-drinking. Historically, the best versions have been made abroad, in northern Europe especially. Yet, increasingly, we're seeing some outstanding options here at home. This one from Wyoming's Roadhouse Brewing Company is no exception.
It's one of those beers that doesn't need any bells or whistles; it shines bright on its own. In other words, throw a six-pack in the cooler, douse it in ice, and take it somewhere you want to go. Even if it's just the local park, this beer will make the trip special.
Dogfish Head Slightly Mighty
Best low-calorie beer
Dogfish Head is a household name for craft beer admirers. The Delaware brewery has turned out some amazing beers over the years, like its epic 90 Minutes IPA. The brand is doing some great low-calorie stuff too, a reminder that craft beer can still taste like craft beer, even if it's a bit healthier.
The Slightly Mighty is, like it sounds, a lighter take on the IPA. You get all that tasty hop muscle with just 95 calories, about a third of what beers in this genre typically go for. The secret? Dogfish Head uses monk fruit to add some heft to a style of beer that typically comes off as diluted. Well done.
Best light beer
Yeah, it's a giant brand. Sure, you can find it just about anywhere. Maybe there's a reason for all of that. This light beer is certifiably refreshing, with enough personality to be enjoyed on its own and surprisingly good with a lot of foods.
Light beers are meant to be simpletons, and Miller knows what it's doing in that regard. If it ain't broke, keep brewing it.
Hoplark Hop Water
Best non-alcoholic beer
This is an exciting category that will only improve with age. We've seen a bunch of new players enter the field, and the recipes seem to get better and better. For now, we're stuck on Hop Water. More like a hopped-up tea than a true NA beer, it's still a winner. It delivers fresh hop notes with nice effervescence and zero alcohol.
Perhaps that's why this brand is doing so well. While others try to recreate an entire beer and then strip away the alcohol, Hoplark focuses on the hops and the water, and little more. It drinks a little like a tea, but the significant hoppy-ness very much reminds you of beer. Fans of IPAs will love this zero-proof option.
Whether you're just getting into beer or have enjoyed the stuff for years, the above picks are very much worth checking out. Will any of these brewers make the grade in 2023? We'll have to see. In the meantime, we're thirsty for an IPA.
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