Let’s face it: most beer brewed in America today is made with low-cost ingredients. According to Audacy, the most popular beer in the country is Bud Light, made with hops, barley, water, yeast, and rice, with the latter ingredient acting as a “corner cutter,” also known as an adjunct.
The good news is that many breweries in America are committed to producing the best beers possible rather than making the most money. Surprisingly, they use high-quality ingredients to accomplish this. Sure, the beers on this list will cost you more than a Bud, a Busch, or a Natty Light, but they’re worth it. And so are you, so you owe it to yourself to treat yourself to a quality beer made with quality ingredients now and then.
This ordinary beer is relatively clean. According to the Heineken website, the blonde pilsner is brewed using a natural process with no additives. Water, barley malt, hops, and the exclusive Heineken yeast are used in the brewing process. It is also free of genetically modified ingredients and low in gluten, as brewing beer with barley rather than wheat results in only trace amounts of gluten in the beer.
2. Samuel Adams Boston Lager
You may take this beer for granted because it has been around for so long, but the brewers at the Boston Beer Company do not. Sam Adams founder and CEO Jim Koch travels to Germany annually to oversee the selection of Hallertau Mittelfrüh and Tettnang Tettnanger Noble German hops. He tastes each Sam Adams Boston Lager batch before it’s bottled, canned, or kegged.
3. North Coast Brewing Old Rasputin
This Russian Imperial Stout style beer is one of the most decorated beers on the market, having won first place awards at major international beer competitions well over a dozen times over the past two decades. What makes it so unique? It’s just a mountain of malt and a lot of hops. Oh, and a lot more yeast than is typically used in most brews. The brewery’s grain bill for Old Rasputin is significant but complex and nuanced, with five or six different grains used.
4. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA
Sierra Nevada essentially reintroduced hoppy beers to the American market. Before the release of their Pale Ale in 1980, everyone was drinking pale lagers with little to no hop presence. They changed that with the Pale Ale, which is still a fantastic beer, but the Torpedo Extra IPA is unique. The Hop Torpedo, as the name implies, is a proprietary hop-filled device developed by the brewery through which actively fermenting beer flows, resulting in a perfect dry hop character.
5. Victory Brewing Golden Monkey Belgian Tripel
This beer is technically a Belgian-style tripel because it is brewed in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, with a population of about 8,000 people. But Golden Monkey is a genuine Belgian Tripel, as it’s made with imported malt, natural Belgian yeast, plenty of hops, and a unique spice blend.
6. Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin Ale
Is this beer wheat? Is it a beer? Both are correct. Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale has a grain bill of 50% wheat and 50% barley, giving it a malty body but a smooth, soft finish. It also has a lot of hops in it, so it has a lot of bitterness and a lingering finish, but the wheat softens it.
7. Russian River Brewing Pliny the Elder IPA
This beer is widely regarded as one of the best IPAs available. Or, to be more specific, double IPAs. Pliny the Elder, which is almost as well known for being difficult to find as it is for being delicious, is made with four different types of hops that are added in varying amounts at precise intervals during the boil. In addition, of course, it’s made with a lot of grain.
8. Rogue Shakespeare Nitro Stout
One sip of this stuff and your love affair with Guinness – and, honestly, just about any other stout – will be over. This oatmeal stout is rich in chocolate and toasty notes, and it has that smooth, creamy mouthfeel that oat brewing provides. It is infused with nitrogen, which only adds to the smoothness. The malt comprises four different grains, and the hops are grown near where Shakespeare Stout is brewed in Oregon.
9. Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA
90 Minute IPA, created by brewer Sam Calagione in the late 1990s, was the first continuously hopped beer ever brewed. It is made by constantly adding small hops during an hour-and-a-half brew period, resulting in a marvelously complex hop character, as the hop cones are all broken down differently and thus present different notes.
10. Dogfish Head Fermentation Engastration
We hesitate to mention this beer because it is so rare, having only been produced once, but having tried it firsthand, we must share. Fermentation Engastration is a cooking technique in which animal ingredients are stuffed into each other and then cooked. This wild beer contains Muscat grape juice, sake, wild yeasts, and other components.
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