40 Best Beers You Should Be Drinking

There is more to the art of drinking beer than tipping back a cold one to escape your inhibitions and blow off some steam. The practice of drinking beer is one that has forged societies across millennia, from the building of the pyramids in Egypt to the global proliferation of public houses that remain ubiquitous today.

For thousands of years, brewers have harnessed the phenomenon of fermentation — merging hops, malt, and yeast to yield lagers and ales. Today, these yields are glorious. The present-day craft beer scene is thriving and presents consumers with ample choice; there are at least 80 different styles of beer available in the market today. There has never been a better time to become a beer lover or experiment with different kinds of beers.

Whether you like your brew nutty and brown, crisp and clean, or hoppy and hazy, you can choose from a wide range of excellent beers. The following 40 beers represent the apex of brewing evolution and excellence within the various varieties of beer available today. 

Mother Earth Cali Creamin'

Mother Earth Brewing Company's Cali Creamin' is a cream ale with a smooth, dry finish that punctuates a balanced body with deep plunges of vanilla.

This beer's elevated flavor stems from the Madagascar vanilla bean, which helps provide a "cream soda kick" to the beverage. The alcohol content of this beer (5% ABV) also gives it a solid kick. Although a 5% ABV is middle-of-the-road by an ale's standards, it's still a decent amount that's skillfully masked by this beer's distinctive cream-soda flavor and deeply smooth texture.

The vanilla fits within the profile of this beer without dominating it. Although it's a bit on the indulgent side, this beer remains balanced and shouldn't strike a drinker as too sweet or overly creamy. Cali Creamin' is a solid pick for someone who is looking for flavor but isn't into the hop-overload of an IPA. Cali Creamin' clocks in with 18 IBUs and occupies the milder end of the bitterness spectrum.

Santa Monica Brew Works Pale Chocolate Heaven

The Santa Monica Brew Works Pale Chocolate Heaven almost tastes like a dessert beer. This smooth, creamy porter is infused with notes of milk chocolate and vanilla. This delectable brew will take your palate right to the pearly gates and usher you through to a toasty finish.

This golden milk porter doesn't pale away from a good buzz. It contains a moderate amount of alcohol (6% ABV) that should satisfy any drinker looking for taste and effect, especially if that drinker yearns for an outstanding amount of chocolate in the flavor profile. Each batch of Pale Chocolate Heaven is brewed with over 100 pounds of cacao nibs and infused with vanilla bean and chamomile to add smoothness and texture to the finish.

This brew is best suited to the jack-of-all-trades craft beer drinker, an imbiber that can handle a sweet leading edge and toasty send-off and can walk the line between dessert beer and porter.

Hoegaarden Witbier

Named after a municipality in Belgium, Hoegaarden hails from a region that has been brewing beer since 1445. The blueprint for this classic wheat beer was created in the 1400s when Flemish monks experimented and devised a brewing formula that has endured through the ages. Yet, at one point in time, this ancient recipe may have been lost to history if not for a milkman named Pierre Celis (via Beer & Brewing).

During the 1950s, the last white beer brewery in Hoegaarden shut down. In 1965, Calais revived the recipe through his experience working at a brewery and local knowledge surrounding this recipe, which was part of 600 years of brewing heritage. He purchased equipment and started brewing white beer, and named his brewery "De Kluis," meaning "cloister," to honor the monks and their creation. In doing so, Celis resurrected a time-honored formula and redefined industry standards.

This classic Hoegaarden beer is brewed with coriander and curaçao orange peel, giving it that citrus snap while invoking its true witbier status. The result is a smooth beer with citrus notes and a crisp finish. The balanced body of Hoegaarden fits well within the bounds of a Belgian White without being too heavy or bitter.

Toppling Goliath Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout

The Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout is not for the faint-hearted. This strong-willed stout pulls no punches in alcohol content (clocking in at a whopping 12% ABV) or flavor. Each bottle of Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout is packed with maple syrup and espresso aromatics, conjuring a taste profile of "bourbon drenched maple candy" and "chocolate brownies."

This flavor infusion is exactly why Toppling Goliath lives up to its name. The Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout is no stranger to accolades; ranked the top-rated beer in the world by Beer Advocate, and the recipient of a gold medal at the 2018 U.S. Open Beer Championship, the Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout is a perennial colossus of the beer world. 

As an imperial stout, the Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout may not be for everyone. However, if you enjoy heavy flavors with maple and a barrel-tinged taste, then this stout will definitely satisfy your tastes. 

Stella Artois Lager

This classic lager makes the list due to its sheer popularity. While tastes may be subjective, the year-after-year success of Stella Artois sales demonstrates its consistent popularity in the world's palate. A little higher in ABV (5.2%) than many other lagers, Stella Artois is a sturdy beer with a slightly bitter hop afterbite. According to Anheuser Busch Draught, Stella Artois mild malt pairs well with lobster, lamb, and shellfish, as well as cheese and creamy desserts. 

Stella Artois was initially released as a Christmas beer in 1926, named "Stella" after the Christmas star. By the 1960s, Stella was being exported to other European countries. Currently, Stella Artois is one of the fastest-growing beers in the market. USA Today ranks it 14th on the list of best-selling beer brands in America.

This lager is a great drink to enjoy alone, and an even better one to share with friends. Given its broad popularity, Stella Artois Lager reaches premium status on the merit of its versatility.

Toppling Goliath Vanilla Bean Assassin

Toppling Goliath's Vanilla Bean Assassin serves as a shrewd choice for those willing to venture into a flavor forest of vanilla, chocolate, and oak. Considering this brew contains a massive ABV north of 12% ABV, you may have to limit your quantity to enjoy it responsibly. Luckily, each individual brew offers a complex flavor profile to experience and enjoy. 

Imbibers of this elixir can enjoy notes of caramel, maple, and bourbon, in addition to a whiskey-barrel tinge with hints of vanilla and chocolate. This level of palate complexity further enhances the nuanced nature of this imperial stout, which starts strong and culminates with a sweet finish.

Beer Advocate hails this brew as the fourth-highest ranked beer, giving it a score of 100/100. The Vanilla Bean Assassin is a heavy favorite among experts and dabblers alike. If you're into strong American imperial stouts with long and sweet journeys vacillating between vanilla and chocolate, then it's recommended you give Toppling Goliath's Vanilla Bean Assassin a heady go.

The Alchemist Heady Topper

The Alchemists' Heady Topper boasts a Beer Advocate score of 100/100. This Imperial IPA is bound to unanimously impress tastemakers and beer fiends alike. Heady Topper is loaded with ample hops that may otherwise border into excessive, but in this particular concoction, lull you into a decent buzz with an 8% ABV and a heavy hoppy profile that works deeper with each swig.

The only issue with this seemingly perfect beer is its scarcity. According to Gear Patrol, The Alchemist has limited distribution for most of its beers, especially for out-of-state customers. Given that The Alchemist is a Vermont-based company, those outside the Northeast may have a tough time procuring a draft or bottle when demand gets high. After all, the famed brew and The Alchemist brand are local and national legends. Even Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders can be seen posing with a can of Heady Topper in a brief photo-op.

If Heady Topper is proving difficult to access, you can count on their online cult following to point you in the right direction. A quick search can yield information about possible procurement options for the outstanding Heady Topper, such as this post, which covertly announces its availability for sale in California. 

Tree House Brewing Company King Julius

Tree House Brewing Company's King Julius brew cannot be usurped off the list of prime beers. This perfect-scoring IPA reigns supreme. The King Julius brew, which has an ABV of 8.3%, is plenty hoppy, with notes of citrus that tend to sprawl out across the profile. 

King Julius IPA fans have also noted grapefruit, mango, orange peel, and other zesty essences lurking within the smooth mouthfeel of this IPA. This beer also contains flavors and aromas of peach, passionfruit, and citrus juice.

The King Julius IPA, with its nostalgic tinge and holiday season vibes, is a spin on Tree House's flagship Julius IPA. Tree House Brewing Company has enhanced the Julius IPA's flavors to create a limited-edition brew that bursts with festive flavors. This seasonal release typically runs in limited supply, so if King Julius gets your palate going, you might want to consider stocking up.

Third Space Brewing It Was All A Dream

As any craft beer connoisseur knows, enjoying a craft beer is about more than the beverage. Truly imbibing a craft beer is about taste, history, and the visual appeal of the packaging — the name, the logo, and the art are all essential to the craft beer experience. In this case, it's the name, logo, and legend. 

Third Space Brewing's It Was All A Dream Juicy IPA likely references the lyrics of Biggie Smalls' seminal track "Juicy." Like the acerbic and beloved rapper, this bitter-to-sweet in this IPA exudes a respectable dichotomy: At 7% ABV, it punches like a heavyweight while introducing the palate to hints of pineapple, passion fruit, and berry.

It Was All A Dream Juicy IPA is based on an "experimental hop" that was once known as HBC-438. Initially, the creator of the hop wasn't sure if the hop would have commercial appeal. Luckily for everyone involved, this juicy IPA was a success. Third Space Brewing commercially released the experimental hop — under the name "Sabro" — and the It Was All a Dream IPA, both of which were met with success. Although this IPA tends to vary in supply, the market demand and popularity for this brew will no doubt ensure its continued revival by Third Space Brewing. 

Golden Road Mango Cart

Golden Road's Mango Cart presents the taste buds with ever-present and effervescent taste notes of mango and mango peel that liven the senses without overwhelming them. Mango Cart is a fruity-leaning beer with a heavier body than you'd expect. This brew's relatively low ABV of 4% allows you to pick up a six-pack and lightly drink away your cares. While the heavier body demands that you enjoy this one slower than most, you can rest assured that with flavors like these, your added time will be well spent.

Mango Cart is part of a series of beers honoring the historic fruit vendors of Los Angeles. Mango Cart's packaging depicts a fruit vendor in a quintessential Los Angeles setting. The beer within is loaded with nearly as much flavor as the carts themselves. Golden Road's fruit vendor-inspired series includes beers such as Pineapple Cart, Melon Cart, and Spicy Mango Cart. The latter brew has a similar profile to Mango Cart, but with an added dimension of spice. 

Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout

The Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout, rated 100 on suds arbiter RateBeer, is a heavyweight of quality and performance, as strong a competitor as it is a heady concoction of intense flavors. This potent breakfast brew brings together maple syrup, coffee, and chocolate to offer a whiff of breakfast ambiance, although, with an ABV of 11.7%, it might not quite be intended for early morning consumption. 

This stout supplies a heady buzz to match its intense, roasted flavor. The Canadian Breakfast Stout is aged in bourbon barrels that were previously used for storing maple syrup. So, for partakers who have tasted notes of maple syrup, bourbon, and coffee, know that your palate is experiencing age-old processes of peak calibration.

Tasty, layered, and potent, contrary to its name, the Canadian Breakfast Stout aligns best with the dessert course of dinner. Columbia Daily Tribune recommends pairing it with chocolate cake. Although this may seem like a sensory overload, these flavors are bound to both complement and enhance in tandem.

The Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gooze

The Lost Abbey's Duck Duck Gooze holds the overall number one ranking among all lambics on Beer Advocate, in addition to attaining a perfect 100 on the scoring scale. This sour beer rings in at 7% ABV and is punctuated aromas of oak and leather with a tart bite. This effervescent brew is grounded and oaky, more earthy than you'd expect from a sour ale.

This Belgian-inspired beer is based on sparkling ales created with natural yeast and left to develop on their own terms. This lambic is a quality beer that takes meticulous attention and time. As such, this carefully crafted brew is released in limited amounts and over three-year intervals.

Duck Duck Gooze has been one of The Lost Abbey's most popular beers since its release in 2009. Whether this sour ale intrigues you or piques your craft beer curiosity, if you're after a taste, make sure you seize the day upon the release of its latest batch. 

Saurez Family Brewery Palatine Pils

Saurez Family Brewery's Palatine Pils swaggers into this list as the number-one-rated German pilsner as per Beer Advocate. Palatine Pils fans have noted hints of lemon, bark, bread, and grass on the tasting palate, alongside aromas that lead down citrusy and earthy pathways. 

This pilsner possesses a strong hop presence, which contributes to some bitterness within the body; however, the overall finish remains crisp and balanced. An ABV of 5.2% adds an inebriating jolt to this pilsner. 

While the beauty of brewing is in the eye of the beer holder, the praises for this Saurez Family product are sung far and wide. According to feedback on RateBeer, the Palatine Pils rates a 99/100 overall and a perfect 100 in style. As German Pilsners go, the Saurez Family Brewing's Palatine Pils is formidable based on numbers alone, and that's not even counting its full liquid impact. 

Victory Prima Pils

Victory Brewing Company's Prima Pils has an outstanding rating on Beer Advocate. This lemony, peppery, full-bodied pilsner is a must for anyone looking to branch away from your typical straitlaced pale lager. Consumers heap praises on this lemony pilsner and attest to the nuance of its flavor profile, hailing the peaking notes of lemon followed by a crisp herbal finish on the way down. Additional, layered floral and spice flavor inklings round off the senses to create a mellow texture that lends itself to relaxed sipping. 

This German-style beer doesn't pack a very intense hoppy bite; however, this only serves to redirect the palate to its crisp texture and notes of citrus. The 5.3% ABV gives this lager some gas in the engine without sharply overwhelming the senses with alcohol. Prima Pils is a smooth and well-formulated concoction in which hops and malt blend together to create excellence and harmony. 

Leinenkugel Summer Shandy

The Leinenkugel Summer Shandy is as refreshingly crisp as a sunny day by the lake and makes a stellar addition to any cooler. This wheat beer is spirited with lemon zest and runs light on the alcohol. This is an ideal beverage to sup under the sun as you pace yourself and relax. A refreshing beer that won't have you feeling boozy, the Leinenkugel Summer Shandy's refreshing crisp lemon lift finishes sharp and clean, even when imbibed straight from the bottle.

This lemony brew, technically classified as a fruit wheat beer, bagged a silver medal winner at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival and has continued dazzling consumers since then. Leinenkugel recommends pairing this award-winning beer with BBQ chicken, fruit salads, watermelon, and grilled fish. Even the food accompaniment suggestions for this beer denote summertime, proving once and for all that this beer is the classic epitome of summer. 

Samuel Adams Cream Stout

Samuel Adams Cream Stout doesn't quite reach Beer Advocate's "world-class" rating. While the cream stout stays in the "very good" category with a score of 88, audience responses to this beer suggest it's even better. This stout carries delectable notes of coffee, chocolate, and caramel. It runs smooth, from pour to finish but is relatively low on alcohol content for a stout, coming in at an ABV of 4.9%.

Samuel Adams Cream Stout is an excellent post-dinner beer with a little spiciness to keep you from surrendering completely to your food coma. According to Epicurious, stouts tend to pair well with chocolate-based desserts as well as with salty foods, giving you a range of course options with which to optimally enjoy this decadent beverage.

This Samuel Adams' rare brew is often limited in availability and sometimes requires sleuthing on dedicated beer boards to locate and obtain. While procuring this beer may prove a task, a smooth stout from an established brewery is bound to be worth it. 

Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing

Sierra Nevada's vivacious brew, Hazy Little Thing, punches in with an ABV of 6.7%. According to Beer Advocate, this beer is less bitter than most IPAs (35 IBUs) and leans towards fruitier flavors. This brew brings forth notes of pineapple, grapefruit, and orange. Sierra Nevada achieves the hazy quality of this beer by combining malted and unmalted varieties of oats and wheat, brewing them, and then chilling them at slightly higher temperatures than normal.  

Hazy Little Thing may be low on the IBU scale but is created with a diverse array of hops. Since the beer is made from a slew of different hops such as Citra, Magnum, Simcoe, Comet, Mosaic, and El Dorado, it can be tough to detect a single species in the flavor profile. The added malts of Two-Row Pale, Munich, oats, and wheat tend to balance out the bitterness of this brew, resulting in a hazy blend and a nuanced body that offers a refreshing take on your traditional IPA. 

New Belgium Voodoo Ranger IPA

New Belgium Brewing's Voodoo Ranger IPA boasts a smooth finish when chilled and a stellar amount of hops, exemplifying the perfect balance between body and bite. This IPA's body leans citrus heavy, created with a dominant lineup of the citrus-evoking hops breeds of Amarillo, Cascade, Chinook, Citra, and Mosaic. The aroma, on the other hand, tends to trigger notes of pine and hoppy darkness.

Voodoo Ranger's IPA has an ABV of 7% and elicits a mid-level buzz as compared to other IPAs. This beer is slightly counterbalanced by pale, honey, and pilsner malts and goes down in smooth stretches with spicy kicks. At an IBU level of 50, there's definitely some residual bitterness with the bite.

According to Brewbound, Voodoo Ranger is one of the fastest-growing IPA brands in the world of craft beer. With semi-bitter, semi-spicy flavors, it's easy to see why this is a favorite among craft beer enthusiasts at any level. Its exciting hoppy notes that pack a punch without overdoing it also make the Voodoo Ranger an excellent gateway IPA for beginners.

Ballast Point Sculpin

This brew is one of the most balanced IPAs in existence. Ballast Point Brewing Company's Grapefruit Sculpin IPA is an influential ale with a legacy of pleasing beer-soaked taste buds. Aptly named after a fish that can survive in both saltwater and freshwater environments, the Sculpin' IPA appears equally as resilient. 

Sculpin IPA has acted as a major catalyst in sparking Ballast Point Brewing's wider success. This wildly popular beer, which is sold year-round, has received several accolades. According to Ballast Point Brewing, this gold medal-winning IPA is "what got [them] into brewing in the first place."

At a 7% ABV and a bitterness level of 70 IBUs, the Sculpin' is in the middle-of-the-road in terms of alcohol content and is decidedly less agnostic regarding bitterness levels, liberal in its usage of hops. The Sculpin's body appears a hazy amber, and while it may resemble the malty countenance of a lager, its hops ultimately dominate. This IPA takes you on a journey of citrus notes that strum across peach, mango, apricot, and lemon, culminating in a bitter bite.

Allagash White

The Allagash White witbier is a zesty beer with a crisp finish that chimes in with an ABV of 5.2%. Currently, Allagash White is Beer Advocate's third-ranked witbier, with an "outstanding" score of 93. If you've ever had the pleasure of opening an Allagash White, you'll know that its presence is announced instantly through its aroma. As one pops open the top, notes of spice and citrus emanate from the bottle, akin to peeling a peppery orange.

Allagash White's body is more crisp than heavy, which separates it from a big cohort of wheat beers. This Belgian-style wheat beer looks slightly hazy when poured as a draft. If you aren't seeing Allagash's typically hazy appearance in your glass, there's a good chance you need to change your pouring methods. 

Allagash Brewing Company recommends "that you flip [the bottle or can] upside down, gently swirl it for about ten seconds, and then flip it back over before enjoying it." They call this method "rousing the beer's yeast," an exercise that "ensures you'll have the best possible experience with your Allagash White."

Moonlight Brewing Company Death and Taxes

There are two certainties in life, and Moonlight Brewing Company is hoping you'll make their lager a third in yours. As Beer Advocate's number one European dark lager, Death and Taxes dominates this category with its caffeinated, cocoa-rich brew.

Given its chocolatey profile, this lager starts off seemingly masquerading as a porter and then redirects its profile back to earth with a hoppy infusion at the bite. This black lager is known for its trademark rich beginning and dark finish and its aroma with decadent notes of coffee and chocolate, leaving the imbiber with a nice left turn as the beer finishes off crisp. 

According to Moonlight Brewing, you should expect this beer to hit your mouth "like iced coffee, but with a different effect." This San Francisco-style brew with its 5% ABV belies a sturdy alcohol content for a lager, which hits just right without enveloping the flavor in pursuit of effect.

Bell's Brewery Two Hearted Ale

This hoppy Michigan beer, rated a world-class IPA by Beer Advocate, is certainly worth a try. Bell's Brewery's Two Hearted Ale derives its name from the Two Hearted River in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. This delicious IPA incorporates notes of grapefruit and pine nettle, pulling out nearly all the hops to deliver a refreshingly unique IPA that's routinely considered one of the best beers in America

Two Hearted Ale achieves its flavorful superiority through several hop additions, balanced with malts and mixed with Bell's own house yeast. This process achieves a delightfully fruit-filled aroma rounded off with a peppery kick in the finish.

According to Bell's, Two Hearted Ale pairs well with different savory and sweet foods. You can combine this IPA with oysters, barbecue, brisket, and chili. This beer also pairs well with sweets such as apples and maple syrup. If you're looking for an "eccentric" combo, Bell's suggesting teaming up your Two Hearted Ale with curried vegetable soup.

Austin Beer Garden Brewing Industry Pilsner

Austin Beer Garden Brewing's Industry Pilsner is a strong beer worthy of strong consideration. This hoppy pilsner measures at 40 IBUs and packs a heady punch of 4.9% ABV. In 2016, the Industry Pilsner took home a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival, emerging as a champion in the highly competitive category of German-style pilsner.

Overcoming the odds of winning this competition requires a stellar beer that stands out from the pack. The Industry Pilsner achieves is a quality brew in all facets of construction. From pour, to settle, to sip, the Industry Pilsner reigns across all dimensions, from aesthetic to aromatic, as well as arenas of taste and texture.

This beer owes its balance to German Pils Malt and a floral array of hops that create a spicy aroma with a crisp and extra-dry finish, resulting in a domestic pilsner that feels like it springs directly out of the beer gardens of Germany.

Jack's Abby Shipping Out of Boston

Jack's Abby's Shipping Out of Boston is an amber ale reminiscent of a Dropkick Murphys song by the same name. This Amber lager's rowdy name is matched by a semi-rowdy 5.3% ABV. 

Beer Advocate ranks this brew the No. 2 beer in the American Amber/Red Lager category. This fan-favorite carries a nutty aroma and follows through with a roasted texture ending on a hoppy bite. Shipping Out of Boston is made with ingredients locally sourced ingredients and pays homage to the rich history of Boston and New England. The result is a "malty, sweet, and lightly hoppy amber lager."

Jack's Abbey, a relatively new brewery on the block, was founded in 2011 by a trio of brothers: Jack, Eric, and Sam Hendler. In addition to brewing legendary beers, Jack's Abby is also known for their wood-fired pizzas. Sadly, the latter is only available in person at the Jack's Abby Beer Hall and Kitchen at their brewery in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Founders Underground Mountain Brown

Beer Advocate ranks this Founders' beer as the number one American Brown Ale. This barrel-aged beer's moniker is backed up by its method and is a legendary favorite amongst the craft beer community. Underground Mountain Brown's earthy, underground taste is the product of a special, intensive process. 

Founders' imperial brown ale and Sumatra coffee are blended together and stored in barrels which are then aged in caves beneath the Grand Rapids in Michigan for a year. This brown ale has a hardy 11.9% ABV and a complex flavor profile with peaks of bourbon and chocolate.

Underground Mountain Brew made its debut in 2019 and has been since reintroduced as part of a limited-distribution series due to popular demand. The good news is that this beer's scarcity is its only real downside. So, once you've located and brought home a four-pack, all that's left to do is enjoy.

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron

This roasted and hard-hitting brown ale out of the Delaware-based Dogfish Head Brewery runs strong and intense, with an ABV of 12%. The Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron is an intense ride: Inebriating ability aside, this strong beer carries a strong flavor profile that smooths over any bite from the alcohol. 

The specialized barrels used in this beer's aging process are what make it truly special. Palo Santo Marron is brewed in barrels made from ancient Paraguayan Palo Santo wood, a process that lends itself to this brown ale's imbued notes of vanilla, caramel, and spices. South American wine-making communities have used Paraguayan Palo Santo wood to create brewing vessels. This fantastic feat of brewing should place the deliciously formidable Palo Santo Marron brown ale atop any connoisseur's bucket list.

Dogfish Head recommends pairing this potent ale with steak, chorizo sausage, or Cajun cuisine. A snifter is an ideal choice in terms of glassware.

Great Lakes Barrel Aged Christmas Ale

In some households, Christmas and bourbon go together like Santa Claus and his jolly belly. For those who enjoy tying bows as well as tying one on over the holidays, the Great Lakes Barrel Aged Christmas Ale is a stellar choice. 

Bottled to an ABV of 8.2% after six months of aging in bourbon barrels, the Barrel Aged Christmas Ale packs a lot of fire in the chimney. This ale is brewed with cinnamon, ginger, and honey but also doles out a fair amount of sweet notes and spices throughout its profile, making it the perfect festive choice!

As the number-two ranked winter warmer on Beer Advocate, the flavor profile appears to resonate with drinkers across the world. Time and time again, consumers have noted time and again the bourbon influence mingling with warm winter spices. The Great Lakes Brewing Company recommends pairing this holiday with "[r]oast duck, spiced desserts, and ugly Christmas sweaters."

Newcastle Brown Ale

The Newcastle Brown Ale, with its caramel hues and malty flavors, is a legacy candidate with a long and rich history of its own. This smooth and nutty ale out of the United Kingdom has been popping off Newcastle brewery lines since 1927. 

The Newcastle Brown Ale is a stellar brew that is considered the "favoured beer of North East England." This brown ale carries an ABV of 4.7%. The moderate alcohol content opens this beer up to a greater degree of smoothness, and the result is refreshing. Overall, the malts play a balanced role in this beverage but also offer a guiding hand toward a sweet finish as the sip tapers off.

This excellent beer has a proud history. Their heritage is even denoted through their logo on the bottle. The five points of the blue star logo each represent the five founding breweries of Newcastle Brown Ale.

Anchorage Brewing Company Citra Bitter Monk

Anchorage Brewing Company's Bitter Monk — a double IPA that's triple fermented – fills its glass with hazy hops that hit your lips with a twinge of sour before filling your belly with a warm hoppy finish.

This beer contains registers at 100 IBUs and contains enough of a bitter bite to satisfy any hardcore hophead. As the number-one ranked Belgian IPA on Beer Advocate at the time of this writing, it seems to resonate with a more inclusive set of drinkers as well. 

It's likely the citrus and sour notes that resonate with a wider audience, leading them into nuanced flavors that can only emerge after a triple-fermenting process. Each batch of Citra Bitter Monk is fermented first with Belgian yeast, then switched over to French oak chardonnay barrels, and then transferred to bottling with a third yeast that provides carbonation. This process results in a complex beer that provides a heady buzz with a 9% ABV.

Trillium Brewing Company Sprang

The slightly bitter and mildly tart Sprang kölsch ale may not be for everyone; however, its hoppy rendition of a classic cold-conditioned ale tends to bring people who weren't previously into kölsch-style ales into the fray. 

Ranked as the number-two kölsch on Beer Advocate, Sprang punches in at an ABV of 4.9% and is well known as bringing a citrus/fruity twist to the traditional kölsch-style beer. According to Trillium Brewing Company, Sprang is a "kölsch inspired ale" that is cold fermented — in case there was any lingering confusion. 

For this brew, the company utilizes cold fermentation to add balance to the blend, allowing aromas of evergreen and passion fruit to steep into the final product. Although tastes are subjective and palates are finicky, consumers of this drink should also expect flavor notes of concord grape, mango, and herbaceous white wine as they partake.

Pipeworks Brewing Company Blood of the Unicorn

A rare beer with a rare name, Pipeworks Brewing Company's Blood of the Unicorn backs up its bold labeling with an outstanding rating on Beer Advocate, as well as strong reviews from instant fans of the product.

Blood of the Unicorn's meandering hop profile may not impress every beer drinker but tends to resonate with drinkers looking for an outlandish breadth that spans notes of apricot, tangerine, pine, caramel, and roasted coffee. Although there's nothing silky about the name, this beer is one of the smoothest amber ales you can imbibe, even as it hits the scales with a 6.5% ABV.

Blood of the Unicorn also plays up the scarcity evoked in their name. They're self-distributed by the Pipeworks Brewing Company and the beer is only available in a handful of states in the United States. Luckily, they've teamed up with Tavour to bridge the gap in demand and deliver their stellar craft brew through Tavour's online portal.

Funky Buddha Maple Bacon Coffee Porter

According to the Funky Buddha Brewery, their Maple Bacon Coffee Porter is "the beer that started it all." As their name implies, this beer is brewed with roasted coffee beans, maple syrup, and bacon, resulting in a roasted profile that blooms with notes of coffee, maple syrup, and vanilla.

As the second-highest-rated American Porter on Beer Advocate at the time of this writing, the beer remains tremendously popular and has reaped a lot of positive consumer feedback. However, consumers have noted that its notes of bacon may not always register on the palate. 

Imbuing a quality porter with bacon flavor is an inherently tough task, and with all the flavors rushing around the tongue in this beer, any lack of bacon sensation should be treated as a negligible issue. The creamy body and roasted finish alone are enough to attract any serious craft consumer.

Brewery Ommegang Bourbon Barrel Vanilla Smoked Porter

This high ABV (9.5%) brew is known for its bourbon aroma and packs a solid punch without the bite. As your olfactory senses cue onto the barrel-aged essence, your taste buds should notice ribbons of vanilla and chocolate throughout this dark porter.

For its high alcohol content, the Bourbon Barrel Vanilla Smoked Porter carries a surprisingly malty finish that some may consider slightly sweet. Other consumers have noted a smoky, roasted flavor profile that accompanies the savory notes of chocolate and vanilla in this multifaceted porter.

A beer that's rated outstanding by Beer Advocate at the time of this writing, the Bourbon Barrel Vanilla Smoked Porter balances its roasted notes across an active profile. This beer also provides an entertaining pour, rolling out thick and dark before foaming up to a tan head, culminating in a porter that befits all the best parts of any ritualistic craft beer experience.

Bell's Oberon Ale

A wheat ale hailing from Michigan, Bell's Oberon Ale packs a smooth texture that leads into a crisp and slightly fruity finish. Notes of citrus and spice quickly set the aroma as well as the tone of the taste. Golden in color, and best enjoyed in a wheat glass or spiegelau, Bell's Oberon Ale blooms quickly from the pour, so it's best to enjoy it out of the can.

At 5.8% ABV, Bell's Oberon Ale could be considered a tad on the heavy side, but if you can handle something a little saucier, Bell's Oberon is an ideal summer beer, owing to its smoothness in spite of its alcohol content. For a beer with such a polished profile, it's interesting to note that Bell's Oberon Ale doesn't rely on fruit and spices in the brew. According to Bell's, Oberon Ale achieves all their flavor on the backs of just four ingredients, reinforcing the notion that genius is best communicated through simplicity.

Saint Arnold Pumpkinator

The world of the best craft beers is not limited to traditional beers. Niche brews deserve more attention, as they represent the proximal zone of development in the art of craft brewing. Through trial, error, and fermentation, brewers have turned experimental beverages into new categories of craft beer. The pumpkin beer is the epitome of this domain-expanding phenomenon. 

The Saint Arnold Pumpkinator is more than just a niche representative; it's a winning brew with a winning name. A gold medal winner at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival, this imperial pumpkin stout weighs in at 11.2% ABV and turns heads as it punches hard. Malt-heavy and hop-medium, the Saint Arnold Pumpkinator also incorporates pumpkin, molasses, and brown sugar into its seasonal brew, giving the beer sweet layerings on its toasted, malty backbone.

The Saint Arnold Brewing Company recommends enjoying the Pumpkinator at a temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer to invigorate the spices and round out a flavor profile you'll want to capture in its entirety.

Fremont Brewing Company Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star

The Fremont Brewing Company's Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star is a limited edition oatmeal stout with broad appeal and international acclaim. In addition to winning a gold medal at the 2016 Brussels Beer Challenge, the Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star has earned several silver medals in Japan and the United States.

With a buzzworthy 12.7% ABV, this limited edition beer quickly displays its expansive abilities through taste as well as the aroma. Upon opening this bottle, one is likely to detect notes of brown sugar, chocolate, and toffee. The flavor bounces back and forth between malty sweetness and hoppy bitterness and maintains a steady alcohol kick through the duration.

The Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star is typically released around the first of October each year. If you do manage to capitalize on this beer's narrow window of availability, then know it's also a brew worth hoarding. Once you've managed to procure the Bourbon Barrel-Aged Dark Star, you can continue the aging process within the bottle and save it for a special occasion down the road.

Tree House Brewing Company Moment of Clarity

As the number one milk stout on Beer Advocate at the time of this writing, Tree House's Moment of Clarity deserves a moment in the sun. This milk stout is redolent of maple syrup and chocolate and it quickly wins you over on aroma and then sells you on its smooth, surprisingly light body. Some consumers have noted that the taste matches the fragrance but continues on with trailing edges of vanilla and caramel that pop from its roasted profile.

At 7.7% ABV, there isn't as much alcohol heat as you might expect, which leaves ample room for the sweet malty flavor to dominate the mouthfeel. This is a drink that serves well in any setting but is likely paired best with dessert. According to Tree House Brewing Company, Moment of Clarity "is a beer perfect for cozy days spent by the fire or around the breakfast table with friends and family."

New Glarus Brewing Dancing Man Wheat

The Dancing Man Wheat out of Wisconsin is the third-ranked hefeweizen on Beer Advocate at the time of this writing. This wheat beer gets things moving with a spicy cinnamon aroma and enough haze to achieve a 7.2% ABV.

New Glarus Brewing has been doing this dance since 1995. They've been brewing Bavarian-style wheat beers for over 25 years. The Dancing Man Wheat is the peak of their performance. Intended to hit the consumer on the nose with notes of clove and cinnamon, the flavor profile of this beer settles into a wheat-beer lane, evolving into notes of fruit as you finish your sip.

The recommended pairings list to this offering is long but refreshingly broad and should span nearly all appetites. According to New Glarus Brewing, a wide range of foods, from scrambled eggs to sushi to lemon meringue pie, should make a fine floor partner with Dancing Man Wheat.

Perennial Artisan Ales Funky Wit Apricot

This stellar brew from Perennial Artisan Ales is currently the number-one-rated wheat beer on Beer Advocate. Funky Wit Apricot's name appears to fit the sensation it evokes. This beer, which is aged in oak foeders, is sour to the point of funky, with notes of flavor ranging from apricot to earthy oak. The Funky Wit Apricot may not be for everyone, but those who like it sour should look no further.

The mild haze level of this beer may strike seasoned drinkers as more of a pilsner, and at 5% ABV, it's middle-of-the-road for witbiers. However, standouts don't typically blend in, and Funky Wit Apricot makes its creative case through a strong gamble on apricot. Several consumers report that the apricot taste dominates the flavor profile throughout. 

So, if you can handle the sour, and you know your way around an apricot, then this beer is worth the adventure.

Toppling Goliath SR-71

Toppling Goliath's SR-71 gets off to a strong start with a gigantic ABV of 14%. Beer Advocate rates this beer "world-class" and gives it a perfect score of 100. This American imperial stout is known for its caramel and fudge notes, with noticeable but subtle hints of bourbon from the barrel aging process. Consumers have noted flavorful bursts of brown sugar, molasses, and dark fruits breaking through the body of this thick, incredibly heady whiskey-accented beer.

The only true downside to SR-71 is that its supply is very limited. According to Rate Beer, Toppling Goliath's SR-71 is the equivalent of their Assassin Barrel-Aged Stout, specifically the Barrel-Aged Norseman's Wrath. The only big difference is that the SR-71 spends more time aging in barrels prior to its release. They say good things come to those who wait, and if you have the patience, Toppling Goliath's SR-71 certainly will not disappoint.