The best beers of 2020 were not consumed amongst friends, shoulder-to-shoulder inside packed bars and breweries, as they should've been. Instead, they were consumed at home, presumably during Zoom happy hours and, probably, at a higher rate in early November. 2020 has changed where we drink (and buy) beer but it did not change that Americans still love beer with hops, slow a booming craft lager selection or stem the tide of low-ABV craft beers pouring from more and more brew halls.

To determine the best beers of 2020, we leaned on the experts: brewers, beer bar owners and beer journalists. Here's to 2021 hopefully bringing opportunities to enjoy beers in-person with friends again. How many of these 46 beers have you had?

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


Oxbow Brewing Co. Farmhouse Pale Ale

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From: Newcastle, ME
Style: Saison
ABV: 6%

"My favorite beer of 2020 isn't rare or a flavor bomb, but it is a beer I found comforting, reliable, and encouraging — all things I couldn't get enough of in a generally uncomfortable year that was 2020. It's Oxbox's Farmhouse Pale Ale. I love dry, effervescent beers and this Saison with American hops fits that description perfectly. During a year when beer sat in bars or on shelves for months longer than it typically would, Farmhouse Pale Ale was able to hold up beautifully. Even when the punchy citrus notes of American hops fall away there is still plenty of yeast character to keep things tasty and interesting. Plus, it pairs perfectly with almost any food because of the clean finish, simple flavors, and hints of white pepper spice. I find it encouraging because if you can call lactose-laden, flavored beers a pale ale, why not call a nice dry brilliant Saison a pale ale, too? More of that in 2021!" — Mandy Naglich, Beers With Mandy and Advanced Cicerone

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Industrial Arts Brewing Co. Tools of the Trade

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From: Garnerville, NY
Style: Extra Pale Ale
ABV: 4.9%

"While I can’t get this one at my local shop here in Colorado, I was lucky enough to receive a can of this beer from a friend and former co-worker who now brews at Industrial Arts. Beer that brings big flavor and aroma but is eminently drinkable seems like it can be hard to find at times. This beer hits all the right spots: bright, fresh citrusy hop aromas with hints of tropical fruit like pineapple and guava, all layered into a light, sweet malt base that makes it hard to put down. Perfect for a summer evening in the backyard, post-gravel ride recovery or an after-work shifty." — Christian Holbrook, brewmaster at New Belgium Brewing

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Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales Bam Bière

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From: Dexter, MI
Style: Farmhouse Ale
ABV: 4.5%

"My favorite beer of 2020 was without a doubt Jolly Pumpkin's Bam Bière in a can. (Full disclosure, I used to work at Jolly in 2011-2012) Bam has always been one of the best farmhouse ales in America, but it's never been offered in such an accessible format. An open-fermented, barrel-aged and for most of its history, bottle-conditioned Saison, it's one of those living beers whose essence seemed to be drawn from its time in a bottle. Bam rewarded patience and I used to hold onto bottles for at least six months before cracking them open. Would this beer be just as coveted in a can? The answer is a resounding yes. Jolly Pumpkin delivered. Bam is more than comfortable in its new can-conditioned digs and looks and tastes fantastic. Refreshing, drinkable, unique, it hits on all of the notes I hope for in a Threes beer." — Matt Levy, head brewer at Threes Brewing

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Brauerei Schönram Schönramer Pils

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From: Petting, Germany
Style: Bavarian Pilsner
ABV: 5%

"I not only know my best beer of 2020, I know the exact day I had it. On March 13, a Friday, I picked my daughter up early from preschool. It was unseasonably warm for spring and as she drew with chalk on the sidewalk I sat on our Brooklyn stoop drinking beer. A friend had given me a bottle of Schönramer Pils, a small-batch Bavarian pilsner produced for around 200 years, but one I’d never heard of embarrassingly enough (to be fair, it's little-seen in America). It was incredible! Crisp and clean, creamy and full-bodied, bursting with bright aromas and crackery flavors. I only had one bottle, but I'll never forget it. All the more so because, as I sipped it, afternoon became early evening and people started arriving back into my neighborhood from a day's work in Manhattan. They started lining up at the grocery store across the street, were soon wrapping around the block, and little did I know, that would be the last beforetimes beer I would ever have." — Aaron Goldfarb, author of Hacking Whiskey and Gather Around Cocktails

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Odell Brewing Co. Mountain Standard

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From: Fort Collins, CO
Style: IPA
ABV: 6.5%

"I still stand by Mountain Standard being one of the best beers. It is super light on the palate and packs such an in-your-face hop presence. I also think it’s super cool that they did not choose an American IPA yeast strain. I believe they are using a Kölsch which is an interesting, bold choice and really works." — Veronica Vega, director of product development at Deschutes Brewery

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Lost Nation Brewing Lokal Resident

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From: Morrisville, VT
Style: Czech Pale Lager
ABV: 5.5%

"My favorite beer of 2020 was Lost Nation’s Lokal Resident. The beer is brewed in the style of a Czech Pale Lager, and this wonderful Vermont-based brewery has kept it traditional by using 100 percent Czech ingredients, including floor-malted barley, Saaz hops, and yeast from the country’s national brewery, Budvar. The Czech Republic consumes more beer-per-capita than any other country and this feat is made possible by the imminently drinkable Czech lagers. With Lokal Resident, the Lost Nation crew achieved the requisite ultimate quaff-ability of these beers while showcasing the sublime flavors of the finest Czech ingredients. Na Zdraví and thanks to these Vermont brewers for bringing such an authentic taste of Europe to Northern New England!" — Tim Adams, co-founder and head brewer at Oxbow Brewing Co.

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Siren Craft Brew Origin Story

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From: Workingham, United Kingdom
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 10%

"I don’t want to go all 'old man yells at cloud' but I can remember a time when stouts were a much simpler beer. But progress demands innovation and stouts with adjunct lists that require taking a breath to finish reading are now commonplace. I’m not against innovation. Nor am I a contrarian, taking a debate team’s opposing stance — I love things like coffee, vanilla and heck even peanut butter in a stout. But that’s not what Origin Story does. It’s more of a throwback. It reminds me of some of the simple-yet-amazing stouts that first won me over years ago like Founders Imperial Stout, Oskar Blues’ Ten Fidy and the amazing Bell’s Expedition Stout. Origin Story, with its 20 specialty malts and double mash may not be a simple beer for Siren to make, but its desired outcome perhaps is. It’s a big, luxurious beer, decidedly focused on creating a big stout that tastes like a big stout. In that respect, it succeeds in a big way." — Cory Smith, photographer and writer

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Other Half Brewing Lime Snaps

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From: Brooklyn, NY
Style: Rice Lager
ABV: 4.5%

"I got a four-pack of this in an epic box the Other Half crew sent me while I was at my in-laws in Wisconsin this August. There could not have been a more perfect beer to drink during a hot and humid Midwest summer. Sitting on their screened-in porch observing the wildlife and drinking this masterpiece out of a Willi Becher was the pinnacle of my beer consumption in 2020. This is the most complex lager I have had in my entire life, even though it has a minimal list of ingredients. The mouthfeel is incredibly crisp but also has this cool starchy character from the rice. There is a hint of citrus in the finish that is refreshing and adds lots of complexity. This is as unique as a crushable beer can get. The drinking experience was flawless from start to finish. I wish I had a year supply!" — Kyle Harrop, founder of Horus Aged Ales

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Origin Beer Project Small Victories

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From: Cranston, RI
Style: Czech Pale Lager
ABV: 3.5%

"Origin is a very nearly brand new brewery, launched in the throes of the pandemic, based inside of Buttonwoods Craft Brewery in Rhode Island. We definitely have a deep affinity for them simply based on the fact that they do business in a very similar way to us at NSBP, and that we share plenty of eerie similarities in our design, name, thoughtfulness, and behind the scene dynamics (they also have a canine mascot named for a hop). But all that aside, they launched with a 3.5 percent foeder Czech Pilsner. That's bold AF! Not only were they so bold as to do so, Small Victories is delicious! I love a foeder lager so so much, everybody should be making and drinking way more foeder lager, and this is a phenomenal example of the style." — Gage Siegel, founder of Non Sequitur Beer Project

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Son of Man Sagardo

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From: Columbia River Gorge, OR
Style: Basque Style Cider
ABV: 6%

"My favorite beer of the year is a cider. Or properly, a Sidra. Son of Man is an Oregon cider maker that features Spanish style ciders from the Basque region and Sagardo is their flagship — it’s very representative of the Sidra I tried in the North of Spain. Of course, it’s tart, with more than a sniff of vinegar. Sagardo is fermented with native yeast and no sulfites, so it’s nature’s version of funk, competing with acetic notes and bits of lemon or grapefruit, too. The tartness may give some drinkers pause after the first sip or two, but if you drink natural wine or kombucha, the flavor will be more familiar and very appealing — after all, wine is just cider made from grapes. Like almost every tart Sidra I’ve tasted, it's a superstar pairing with food, from light and salady to rich stews and meats. Best of all, you can buy Son of Man online and get it shipped to your house. Do it, today." — Greg Hall, founder of Virtue Cider

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Burgeon Beer Company Carlsbad Crush

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From: Carlsbad, CA
Style: West Coast Pale Ale
ABV: 5.8%

"Our pals down at Burgeon have been putting out some of the best beers around since they opened and are some of the nicest folks. We had them up to Ventura for a collaboration last year and I was blown away by this beer. In all forms of art there is perfection. A Bronx Tale is a perfect movie in my opinion, not a scene or line should be changed. The album "Graceland" is a perfect album, not a note out of place. Carlsbad Crush is that beer for me. It is perfect. A West Coast pale ale hopped generously with exclusively Mosaic and Mosaic Cryo, the beer jumps out of the can with notes of blueberry and passionfruit. The pale malt background lets the true character of Mosaic reveal itself with every sip. At 5.8 percent this beer lives up to it's name and is extremely crushable. A great beer made by even better people." — Jack Dyer, co-founder of Topa Topa Brewing Company

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Burley Oak Brewing x Finback Brewery Nightmare J.R.E.A.M.

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From: Berlin, MD
Style: Fruited Sour
ABV: 4.8%

"This installment of Burley Oak’s hugely popular J.R.E.A.M. series of sour ales, brewed in collaboration with Finback, would get the nod solely based on its name doubling as an apt descriptor for the tumultuous year that was 2020. But, hey, the beer itself tastes delicious, too! Made with terrifying-to-traditionalists amounts of blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry, and black currant, as well as marshmallow and lactose, Nightmare is soft, creamy, and dense, with sweet, jammy flavors of dark fruits and vanilla, and a tart little edge that makes you crave for another sip. I shared three cans with my girlfriend over the course of a few weeks, and they were the highlight of our quarantine drinking. The Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in countless dramatic changes to daily life, but, more than any other well-made beer I had, Nightmare brought some needed relief, joy, and comfort during these uncertain times. And for that, I'm grateful. As one satisfied Untappd user noted in their review, 'It renewed a shred of belief in me that humanity is worth defending.'" — Niko Krommydas, writer and columnist at Yankee Brew News

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Urban Roots Brewing Floofster

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From: Sacramento, CA
Style: Hefeweizen
ABV: 4.8%

"My pick would be Floofster from Urban Roots Brewing in Sacramento, CA. When the guys at Urban Roots sent out a package with our Virtual Connection collab beer in it, they kindly included some of their other beers — all of which were great. But this German-style Hefeweizen stood out to me. Hefeweizens are similar to Belgian white beers in that they're difficult to execute. I've only had a handful of US-brewed Hefeweizens that were done well and this was one of them." — Jason Perkins, brewmaster at Allagash Brewing Company

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Weathered Souls Black Is Beautiful

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From: San Antonio, TX
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 8.2%

"In the rollercoaster year of 2020, the clear standout and favorite for me is the Black Is Beautiful beer project from Marcus Baskerville and his team at Weathered Souls Brewing. This was a project helping our industry do what we do at our best: create beers that have soul and a narrative. Systemic racism is something that in many ways is at complete odds with the craft beer industry's values, yet when we look at the industry we are not as diverse as our values should lead us to be. I’m proud that Wicked Weed got to join Marcus and over 1,000 craft breweries to raise awareness for the cause. And the beer itself is incredible — an imperial stout with rich layers of chocolate, espresso, honey, dried stone fruit and Anise. All the flavors coming from the rich dark malt build results in the perfect imperial stout." — Walt Dickinson, co-founder of Wicked Weed Brewing

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Funk Factory Guezeria Cherry Meerts

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From: Madison, WI
Style: Lambic
ABV: 4.5%

"We drank a bottle of this outside with my neighbors and a friend on a sunny fall afternoon using my friend's tailgate as a table. We all looked at each other (from six feet away) while we drank and collectively and audibly remarked 'wow' at the same time. One of the best American made sours I've come across; the cherry/funk is unbelievably balanced. Perfect for sharing with good people." — Em Sauter, Pints and Panels and Advanced Cicerone

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Halfway Crooks Beer Shell

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From: Atlanta, GA
Style: Schwarzbier
ABV: 4.8%

"My favorite beer this year would probably be Shell, a Schwarzbier by Halfway Crooks out of Atlanta. I got a hold of some right as the weather was starting to get chilly, and you really can’t beat a great Schwarzbier paired with campfire in the fall. In a time where excess can be the name of the game in craft beer, the folks at Halfway Crooks seem to revel in subtlety and nuance, making some of the best lagers around." — Jeff McGuire, director of brewing operations at Burial Beer Co.

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Yeast of Eden Mixed Fermentation Project Oodelallie

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From: Carmel-by-the-Sea
Style: Saison
ABV: 4.7%

"As someone who writes about beer for a living, choosing my favorite beer of the year is both a professional necessity and a personal challenge. But, as I've been narrowing down my list I noticed that one brewery kept popping up: Yeast of Eden. The sour, funky side project from Alvarado Street produces a variety of beers fermented with wild, native and natural yeasts. And my single favorite beer of 2020 from the Carmel-by-the-Sea brewery is Oodelallie, a delightfully packaged, delicious oak-aged, mixed-fermentation Saison refermented on olallieberries. It was fun, vibrant, and jammy — like my favorite gently acidic Gamays it's easy to crush on its own or pair with a snack plate. And of all the beers I had in 2020, it's maybe the one I'd be most excited to share with others." — John Paradiso, managing editor at Hop Culture

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Wild East Brewing Co. Funhaus

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From: Brooklyn, NY
Style: German-style Pilsner
ABV: 4.7%

"It's been a rough year for everyone, especially local businesses, but our friends at Wild East in Brooklyn opened this year, like us, in the middle of the pandemic. I've been drinking their German-style Pils Funhaus really consistently. Love what they're doing and can't get enough of it." — Joe Correia, co-founder and head brewer at Torch & Crown Brewing Company

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Highland Brewing Company Black Mocha Stout

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From: Asheville, NC
Style: Stout
ABV: 5%

"I am all over Highland Brewing's Black Mocha Stout right now. With the weather cooling down, it is the perfect by-the-fire go-to for me. I only just moved to North Carolina this year, so it has been really amazing to take in the offerings from all the local brewers in the area. I'm not sure what I would have done to pass the time through this season of quarantine if it weren't for great craft beer!" — Karissa Norrington, head of brewing at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. North Carolina

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Oxbow Brewing Co. Surf Casting

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From: Newcastle, ME
Style: Grisette
ABV: 4.5%

"My top beer of the craziest year ever has got to be Surf Casting from the homies over at Oxbow. They made this into a series which quickly became my favorite. I could crush this beer at any point of the day. The greatest thing about it is all my favorite beer bars and shops carried these, Beerstreet/as-is/beer karma." — Geriz Ramirez, general manager at Other Half Brewing and @beerwithflavor

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Fremont Brewing B-Bomb

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From: Seattle, WA
Style: Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Winter Ale
ABV: 12.8%

"The story behind my favorite beer of 2020 started with tasting Unicorn Tears, a collaboration from my long-time fav beer brewer, Perennial Artisan Ales and Fremont Brewing. Joe Kirpes from Fremont Brewing gifted a bottle of Unicorn Tears at Treefort Festival (remember those?) in 2019. I am a stout freak, so this was pretty much the end-all for me. After meeting up later with Matt Lincecum and other Fremont folks, we dreamed up our own fun collaboration, an Imperial Sour Stout (coming out in January 2021). I knew I loved their bourbon barrel-aged imperial oatmeal stout, Dark Star, but it didn’t quite fit the bill for the collaboration. I grabbed a few bottles of Fremont’s B-Bomb bourbon barrel-aged imperial winter ale. This was it! The aromas completely engulf you in toffee, chocolate, vanilla, bourbon and barrel char. This beer starts intensely sweet and thick, warm and boozy and does not let up — not for the faint at heart. But if you need an inside sweater this winter season, this fits quite well." — Lauren Limbach, wood cellar director and blender at New Belgium Brewing

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Three Floyds Brewing Co. Gumballhead

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From: Munster, IN
Style: Wheat Ale
ABV: 5.6%

"I really enjoyed getting my hands on a six-pack of Three Floyds Gumballhead this fall when they finally launched in Massachusetts. This beer takes me back to early cross-country hophead obsessions, and the fact that a bright, hoppy and lightly bubblegum-y wheat beer can still impress gives me hope. Things that are delicious and outside the mainstream can still motivate beer drinkers!" — Joe Connolly, director at Springdale Beer Co.

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Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Celebration

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From: Chico, CA
Style: IPA
ABV: 6.8%

"In a year when the world went topsy-turvy, I found myself returning to the stabilizing comfort of classic beers such as Sierra Nevada Celebration. The piney, caramel-rich IPA is bottled comfort, a hop-filled embrace after a hard, hard nine months and counting." — Joshua M. Bernstein, author of The Complete Beer Course and Drink Better Beer

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Cedar Springs Brewing Company Dunkelweizen

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From: Cedar Springs, MI
Style: Dunkelweizen
ABV: 5.9%

"My job is mostly focused on drinking at the fringe. I tend to be wading through new, trending and outrageous beer styles and less on traditional ones. At the risk of sounding like a stodgy beer purist, one of my favorite beers of this year was a Dunkelweizen from Cedar Springs Brewing. They absolutely nailed the balance of toasty sweetness and esters. Sometimes a traditional style done well is exactly what is needed, and I reached for that beer again and again in 2020." — Jon Boer, manager of innovation at New Holland Brewing

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Pelican Brewing Beak Breaker

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From: Pacific City, OR
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9%

"My go-to beer this year has been Beak Breaker by Pelican Brewing. It’s a solid double IPA that is packed full of what I love about beer the most, hops. All the citrus, pine, and tropical hop flavor you want without a tongue lashing bitterness. With a higher ABV, Beak Breaker is smooth, crisp, and tasty. Go get yourself a six-pack!" — Shawn Kelso, Boise pub brewer at 10 Barrel Brewing Co.

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Allagash Brewing Company Saison Violette

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From: Portland, ME
Style: Saison
ABV: 6%

"The beer that comes to mind is Allagash's Saison Violette, but I don't believe it's available anymore. When I first saw Allagash's post for Saison Violette I knew I had to get it. Not only do they know how to sell a beer, but you can depend on it being better than you ever expected. This beer tastes like incredibly fresh blueberries, and it's light and refreshing. One of the best beers I've had this year." — Stephanie Grant, social media coordinator at Monday Night Brewing and @shelovescraft

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Torch & Crown Brewing Company Tenement

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From: New York, NY
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 4.9%

"To call 2020 a weird year would be an understatement for a trillion reasons, but it was an especially bizarre one for beer. The same months that saw me deprived of the faces and company that I work with most in the industry also brought an unprecedented flood of some of the best brewery releases I've ever had grace my shelves and tap lines. It feels sappy to write it, but the 'temporary new normal' turned the research part of my job into a daily treat that got me to appreciate beer in a way I haven't felt in years. And even though I could pick a thousand different beers for a thousand different reasons, I think the stand out is Torch & Crown's Tenement Pilsner. It's just a beautifully constructed lager and the kind of beer I needed at the end of a long, tiring, stressful day that I would bring over to the East River Park, open by the water, and drink while the sun went down. But these guys also pulled off the impossible and opened a truly impressive brewery in the epicenter of a global pandemic without ever sacrificing quality or availability, and deserve a mountain of credit for that." — Zach Mack, founder of ABC Beer Co. and Certified Cicerone

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Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout

From: Decorah, IA
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 12%

"Even without the ability to visit our friends in the industry or to try new beers at events and festivals, I've been really fortunate to be able to enjoy numerous outstanding beers in 2020 (mostly thanks to members of our team coordinating beer exchanges with other breweries). But the beer that stood out most in 2020 was one I actually just tried recently: Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout from Toppling Goliath. Skip, our innovation and wood cellar lead here at WeldWerks, connected with Mike at Toppling Goliath over the summer who sent us this year's batch of KBBS that was released earlier this month. I know it comes across hyperbolic, but I can honestly say KBBS was one of the best beers I have ever tasted. The flavor complexity was unrivaled, with the base beer, barrel, coffee, and maple all taking turns showing off their range of expressions. And the thing that tied it all together was the incredible mouthfeel, which was rich and velvety without veering anywhere close to cloying. With this year's KBBS, Toppling Goliath has made a definitive statement as to why they are still one of the best stout producers in the world." — Neil Fisher, co-founder and head brewer at WeldWerks

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Sante Adarius Rustic Ales West Ashley

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From: Capitola, CA
Style: Barrel-aged Saison
ABV: 7.3%

"West Ashley has long been one of my favorite beers, the poetic balance of stone fruit, barrel, and Sante's yeast culture just hits me on a different level. 2020 was sure strange — it shifted the way people think of beer, enjoy beer, and most notably, buy beer. West Ashley found its way in a few releases this year, and with the availability of shipping, I found myself drinking it more than ever. As with all (seriously, all) Sante beers, it's almost like they have a cheat code to making beautifully balanced mix-culture Saisons, and in my opinion, West Ashley stands at the top." — Dave Martin, founder of Mindful Ales

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Halfway Crooks Beer Var

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From: Atlanta, GA
Style: Czech-style Pilsner
ABV: 5%

"I visited Halfway Crooks back in 2019, shortly after they opened their doors in the Summerhill neighborhood of Atlanta. I was immediately impressed by the clean, classic, nuanced and eminently drinkable beers that Joran van Ginderachter and Shawn Bainbridge had to offer. I was equally excited about the taproom itself — a hipster-vintage blend of 1980s AV nerdery and Flemish nostalgia. Joran and Shawn were kind enough to ship some beer to my new, low-ABV beer bar Shelter shortly after we opened in the fall of 2020. That's when I tasted fresh Var on draft and was immediately hooked. Mellow, toasted malts with biscuit richness that leads to a brisk, crisp and creamy effervescence born of natural carbonation and long lagering times. The hops come in with fresh cut flowers, white pepper and earth. Just the right hit of matchstick. It is a lager I want to drink and drink and drink." — Greg Engert, partner and beverage director at Neighborhood Restaurant Group

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The Civil Life Brewing Co. Burton-On-Holt

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From: St. Louis, MO
Style: Burton Ale
ABV: 6%

"My best beer this year was Civil Life's Burton-On-Holt. Good luck finding a local brewery talking up their Burton Ale portfolio. This style is nearly dead and only whispered about at fringe BJCP cult gatherings. Bitter, malty, and dry, a brewer’s formula for building tension with the sales department. This particular one from Civil Life reminds me of why I still really love brown beer. It starts with a nutty toast that moves into a delicate, dusty chocolate that never forfeits its malty identity, but also never disappoints with a cloying compromise. The EKGs and Challenger hops keep the body crisp, upright, and balanced throughout the entire sip, and most lager doesn’t finish as clean. Track this beer down to remember what dark beer was like before Nuts.com." — Jake Miller, co-founder and brewer at Heirloom Rustic Ales

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Otherlands Beer Illumination

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From: Bellingham, WA
Style: Saison
ABV: 5.8%

"Ben Howe first got my attention with Enlightenment Brut, the elegant, effervescent bière de champagne he used to painstakingly produce in Massachusetts. It was remarkably good. Many years and several moves later, he's landed in Washington, where in June he and his wife Karolina Lobrow opened a brewery cafe called Otherlands. A few of his beers have made their way into bottles, and during a year as bleak as the one we've had, Illumination is a true bright spot. I couldn't believe my luck when I found it at a bottle shop in Seattle. Pale orange and hazy with a thick mousse of foam, it blooms with aromas of thyme, tangerine, lemon verbena, and fresh baguette. Lithe and lively with a soft, lingering bitterness, this dry-hopped Saison combines the familiar flavor of citrus with an approachable complexity that will shine like a beacon to discerning drinkers near and far." — Ben Keene, beer writer and author of The Great Northeast Brewery Tour

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Henhouse Brewing Company Green New Deal Beer

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From: Santa Rosa, CA
Style: IPA
ABV: 7.1%

"Well, 2020 will not be remembered as the year of beer, sadly quite the opposite with so many restaurants and bars being closed or limited. Beer sales have not soared and I have not gotten out as much as I would like to. But my favorite beer of 2020 is the Green New Deal Beer. This multi-brewery collaboration beer to support the efforts to pass the Green New Deal. This beer is not just my favorite of the year because it is delicious (and it is) or even because it is a super cool multi-brewery collaboration (25 breweries and counting) but because it supports, in several great ways, to combat global warming and climate change. This concept beer was instigated by our neighbors Henhouse Brewing in Santa Rosa. It is a beer with a purpose and a whole lotta flavor, too. And we hope that everyone will find a participating brewery near them, buy some of this delicious beer and get on board to write their representatives (whose addresses are on every can)." — Fal Allen, brewmaster at Anderson Valley Brewing Company

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BlackStack Brewing Murk Merchants

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From: St. Paul, MN
Style: Quadruple IPA
ABV: 12.5%

"BlackStack is Minnesota’s best producer of Hazy IPAs with big ABVs. Any triple — or quad in this instance — is a triumph in hop flavor complexity. Murk Merchants featured a light caramel background, wasn’t boozy, but sweet from the 12.5 percent ABV. Mango, subtle pineapple, guava and a touch of Japanese melon rounded out the flavor of the brewery’s landmark five hundreth batch. If you’re not local to Minnesota or Wisconsin, BlackStack beers routinely pop up on Tavour." — Louis Livingston-Garcia, communication and administrative support specialist at Crafted For All

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Stone Brewing Delicious IPA

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From: Escondido, CA
Style: IPA
ABV: 7.7%

"My favorite beer of 2020 is Stone Delicious IPA. Moving from the West Coast to the Northeast was not the easiest when it comes to beer selection, especially for a Western IPA hops in your face type of guy. Finding Stone Delicious IPA was a breath of fresh air! It embodies everything you might want out of an aggressively hopped modern IPA — brilliant clarity, firm bitterness, dynamic earthy, fruity, citrus and tropical characteristics and a simple yet complex malt bill." — John Walker, co-founder and head brewer at Athletic Brewing Company

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Primitive Beer So Last Season - Montmorency

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From: Longmont, CO
Style: Kriek
ABV: 5.6%

"The best beer I tried this year was So Last Season - Montmorency from Primitive Beer in Longmont, Colorado. From the outset, the packaging gave the impression that I was about to drink something special: heavy green bottle, gold logo, hand-painted red brush stroke to indicate that this beer was made with cherries. And the beer didn’t disappoint. It was, in a word, perfect. Ruby red, bubbly mouthfeel and bursting with ripe cherries. I don’t often write reviews, but tasting the beer compelled me to wax poetic on Hop Culture about the beer and brewery. Primitive founders Brandon and Lisa Boldt specialize in spontaneous fermentation, which means that even the same recipes have the potential to taste different year-on-year as the beer ferments with whatever microflora happen to be floating through the air. So Last Season - Montmorency is like drinking liquid cherry pie, and Primitive is a “must try” for any fan of sour beer." — Kenny Gould, founder of Hop Culture and creative director at Next Glass

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KCBC Superhero Sidekicks

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From: Brooklyn, NY
Style: Hazy IPA
ABV: 6.9%

"My personal favorite of 2020 is KCBC Superhero Sidekicks IPA. I bought this beer on more occasions and enjoyed it in more ways than I ever could have imagined. From ordering it direct from the brewery to my door in the early days of Covid, to tasting it with a group of strangers in a virtual beer tasting event (my Covid side hustle — something’s gotta pay for those beer deliveries), to enjoying it 'on-premise' in the middle of the street on Thanksgiving weekend. This beer has been with me all the way this year. It’s absurdly delicious, too, with all sorts of OJ and tropical fruit on the nose, luscious texture and fruit flavor on the palate, and finishing with a hint of bitterness. It tasted extra good knowing drinking it helped our true heroes: brewers." — Cat Wolinski, senior editor at VinePair

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Wayfinder Beer Terrifica Italian Horror Pils

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From: Portland, OR
Style: Italian-style Pilsner
ABV: 4.7%

"Way back in January of this year on a trip to Portland, Oregon to attend the American Hop Convention and I got the chance to visit Wayfinder for the first time. They make an amazing range of beers with a focus on lagers and IPAs. The Terrifica Italian-style Horror Pils stood out to me in particular as an excellent example of the style that is gaining a lot of momentum, particularly out west. Crisp, clean and solidly hoppy, having a few of those stands out in my mind as a top beer experience of 2020." — Adam Beauchamp, brewmaster at Creature Comforts

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Donzoko Brewing Company Big Foam

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From: Harlepool, England
Style: Rustic Lager
ABV: 5%

"For me, 2020 was the year of lager — what better to drink on your sofa, as afternoon gives way to evening, on your tenth consecutive week spent indoors? And no other lager thrilled me quite as much as Donzoko Brewing Company's Big Foam. A so-called "rustic lager" made by brewer and one-man-band Reece Hugill, Big Foam is, true to name, instantly recognizable in the glass for its hazy body and outsize, cotton candy cloud of foam. Luckily, the beer's intrigue doesn't end at its looks. Made with Hallertau Blanc and Astra hops, Big Foam's biscuity malt profile is matched with a vinous complexity and a winsome stone fruit character." — Claire Bullen, editor at Good Beer Hunting and author of The Beer Lover's Table

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Fox Farm Brewing Susurrus

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From: Salem, CT
Style: Saison
ABV: 5.4%

"There's a years-long and still ongoing joke on the podcast I produce, Steal This Beer, about brewing with yarrow. Not entirely sure where it started, but we even had a homebrewer recently troll us with a gag question about double dry-hopping with smoked yarrow. (It's not a real thing, don't bother looking it up.) Anyway, we had Zack Adams of Fox Farm in Connecticut — one of the best makers of lagers and farmhouse ales in the country — on the show back in October, and he graciously shipped us some beers, including this Saison brewed with sumac and yarrow that just blew me away. As Zack describes it, the yarrow (a blossoming, wild-foraged variety from near his farm brewery) combines with the sumac to create a tangy, lemony, and slightly herbal base on top of which he layers spent cherries and raspberries. The result is DayGlo red in the glass with deftly restrained tartness and heady, barnyardy aromas reminiscent of some of my favorite pet-nat wines. I drank it with spicy grilled turkey in a friend's backyard on Thanksgiving for one of the most memorable meals of the year." — Justin Kennedy, producer of Steal This Beer and author of The Bucket Beer List

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Mobtown Brewing Company Honeysuckle Grisette

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From: Baltimore, MD
Style: Grisette
ABV: 5%

"Fact: 2020 has been a time to remember. In the midst of all the turmoil and confusion, I’ve had a go-to-beer from Mobtown Brewing in Baltimore, Maryland. The Honeysuckle Grisette was released around Labor Day and I’ve managed to grab a four-pack anytime I ponder too long trying to decide on a beer at my neighborhood beer and wine store. It’s crisp, clean and has the esters and phenols I love from Belgian yeast strains." — Jamaal Lemon, writer and co-host of The Wayfarer Study

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Westbound & Down Brewing Company Westbound Coffee Porter

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From: Idaho Springs, CO
Style: Coffee Porter
ABV: 6.5%

"One of my favorite beers this year was the Sweet Bloom Coffee Porter from Westbound & Down Brewing. People don’t know this about me but I absolutely love dark coffee beers with no lactose. At 6.5 percent this English Porter is perfect any time of day and I enjoyed many for breakfast while camping this year. Perfect espresso, chocolate character with a hint of caramel. It is equal parts high-quality beer and high-quality coffee; everything a coffee beer should be." — Ashleigh Carter, co-owner and head brewer at Bierstadt Lagerhaus

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Halfway Crooks Beer Kelvin

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From: Atlanta, GA
Style: German-style Smoked Helles
ABV: 4.8%

"2021 will be the year that smoked beer makes a roaring comeback. More breweries will feature a variety of smoked beer styles not because of a lack of malting technology of yesteryear but because the customers are demanding them. At least that’s what I’m actively trying to manifest in the world. Luckily this year helped me set the stage by delivering unto my palate Kelvin from Halfway Crooks. Kelvin is a crisp, refreshing smoked Helles that is accurately described as having 'campfire memories.' While I love a heavily smoked beer as much as the next pyromaniac, Kelvin is the perfect balance of smoke and malt sweetness to introduce (or reintroduce) beer lovers to the wonderful world of smoked beer." — Jen Blair, beer program coordinator at New Realm Brewing and Advanced Cicerone

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Rising Tide Brewing Company Ishmael

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From: Portland, ME
Style: Copper Ale
ABV: 4.9%

"Throughout the long months of the pandemic, while drinking through my cellar, and sustaining on lagers, familiar IPAs, and even the occasional hard seltzer, my thoughts would often drift to Maine. As COVID-19 began closing in I found myself at the Rising Tide Brewing Co. taproom in Portland, having a few rounds of Ishmael, the brewery’s copper ale. This trip in late February would be my last of 2020, although I didn’t know it at the time. As I sat at a table with my business partner Andy Crouch talking about future plans, we opted for staying with Ishmael round after round. The smooth copper ale is malt-forward, with a slight hop spiciness, and is an unfussy companion for proper sessions at the pub. It was calm among the chaos, thoughtful amid uncertainty. The beer is a classic in its own right, and the memory gives me hope for the future days when we can all drink at taprooms without worry and in good health." — John Holl, author and host of Drink Beer, Think Beer / co-host of Steal This Beer

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Half Acre Beer Company Original Reaper

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From: Chicago, IL
Style: Stout
ABV: 6%

"One of my favorite beers of 2020 has been Half Acre's Original Reaper. The brewery describes it as a 'drinking stout' and that is exactly what it is. In a world of sweet, big-bodied pastry stouts, this beer is a breath of fresh air. This beer is dry, medium-light in body, and has a fantastic flavor profile of light roast, dusty cocoa, with soft notes of anise and black currant. Its supreme balance creates an unparalleled drinkability that makes this beer perfect in just about any context." — Averie Swanson, founder of Keeping Together and Master Cicerone

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Jack's Abby Craft Lager Dry Hopped Post Shift

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From: Framingham, MA
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 4.7%

"I love drinking beer, and sometimes I love drinking a lot of beer. Jack's Abby has been one of my favorite breweries since its inception. Their beers are so clean and well-constructed it's nearly impossible to drink just one. And with their overall moderate ABV, why would you? Post Shift is one of our mainstay beers at the bar and it's a daily go-to for me. Dry Hopped Post Shift is a limited, dry-hopped (obviously) version of this modern classic. Super clean malt profile, ultra-quaffable, and the addition of Hallertau Blanc dry-hopping, this Pils has a pleasant melon and pineapple finish. Do not sleep on this beer, and always stay loyal to lager — it's also good pre-shift and mid-shift, heck even no-shift." — Benjamin Pratt, co-founder of As Is Craft Beer Bar

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