With limited-release beers attracting rock concert–style lines at shops carrying them, wildly expensive resale markets, and near hysteria, it's easy to get swept up in the hype for every new quadruple-hopped pale ale and ridiculously strong stout. More hops, or a few months in bourbon barrels, generally makes an awesome beer, but not every iteration is worth your precious time and cash. Here are 11 of the best rare beers in America that are worth tracking down.
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Brewer: The Alchemist
Style: Imperial IPA
In early December 2013, a Vermont woman was charged with illegally selling a controlled substance on the Internet. She wasn't trafficking in illegal drugs, however. She was marking up 120 cans of The Alchemist's widely sought-after double IPA Heady Topper. Heady Topper is actually the brewery's flagship product, with 180 barrels (360 kegs) brewed each week, making it easily the most widely produced beer on this list. Still, the fledgling brewery can't keep up with demand. The problem has become so acute that they have been forced to close their brewery taproom in order to mitigate the chaos inside the brewery and the traffic outside.
Available at select spots in Vermont, Heady Topper is sold in 16-ounce silver tallboy cans. Inside the can is one of the most outrageously hopped IPAs in the craft beer world. Instructions on the can tell you not to pour the beer into the glass. We've heard many justifications for this, but none of them make any sense to us. Heady Topper has one of the best aromas of any IPA we've ever tasted, and there's no better way to present the tropical, citrusy, pine-tinged fireworks in a beer like this than pouring it into a glass. If you're worried about disturbing a bit of sediment, leave the last ounce in the bottle. Whether you choose to drink it directly out of the can or from a glass, make sure you drink it fresh because the hopping will lose its intensity over time.