Here it is, our annual list of the absolute best beers you can drink right now. These ales and lagers represent the breadth and creativity within the beer world, and include both groundbreaking new beers and well-loved classics. To select them, we had our veteran beer writers reach out to luminaries in the craft-brewing world for their nominations. Then, to whittle the list down, we took into account quality control, innovation, and major awards at the 2015 Great American Beer Fest and 2015 World Beer Cup.
But to ensure you can actually find and drink these brews, we eliminated one-off batches and limited the list to beer sold in America and available on shelves and taps beyond the brewery. Our team also made sure the list included a balanced representation of beers from the 23 official, judged styles — pilsners, wild ales, and stouts, to name a few. In other words, consider this your go-to drink list — in no particular order — for the year ahead.
Contributors include: Kevin Afghani, owner of Craft and Growler bottle shop; Matt Allyn, associate editor of MensJournal.com and author of The Brewer's Apprentice; Kate Baker and Suzanne Schalow, co-owners of Craft Beer Cellar bottle shop; Joshua M. Bernstein, author of The Complete Beer Course; Garry Boyd, owner of the HopCat bars; Justin Crossley, owner of The Hop Grenade bar; Patrick Donagher, owner of The Jeffrey bar; Jace Gonnerman, beverage director at the Meridian Pint; Will Hawkes, author of Craft Beer London; Shaun Hill, owner and brewmaster of Hill Farmstead; Katherine Kyle, general manager at Blind Tiger Ale House; Chris Pagnotta, MensJournal.com beer writer; Joanna Postlethwaite, beer buyer at The Thirsty Monk Pub; Ashley Routson, author of The Beer Wench's Guide to Beer; and Brian Yaeger, author of Red, White, and Brew).
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Brewer: Sierra Nevada Brewing
Style: American Pale Ale
"The iconic pale ale is, and will always be, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale," Hopleaf owner Michael Roper says of the piney, grapefruity California beer, which was first brewed in November, 1980. "It is oft overlooked because it has been a standard for 30 years, but I challenge any comer in a blind taste test to best it."