Top 25 Beers of 2011

Celebrating the best reviewed beers of this year.


Published:

The domestic craft beer boom is still in full swing, and there is a growing interest in imports. That’s what made the selection of our Top 25 Beers so difficult. The beers presented on the following pages are among the best- reviewed selections we tasted over the past 12 months, exhibiting extraordinary quality at prices that still represent affordable luxury.

The list is all about balance—the balance of countries, brands, styles, prices and production sizes. This year’s Number One beer is a perfect balance of all the elements considered when compiling this list: high score, reasonable pricing, brand buzz, hot style and superb availability. In addition, however, you’ll discover a couple of high- scoring items here that might not be distributed to your area or are extremely limited in production; these are beer treasures that are definitely worth the hunt.

Grab your favorite cold one and turn the page to discover the best that this year’s reviews had to offer.

Click here to download the PDF of our Top 25 Beers of 2011.

Be sure to also check out our Top 100 Cellar Selections of 2011 and our Top 100 Best Buys of 2011.

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Reader Comments:
Dec 1, 2011 10:06 am
 Posted by  Jack Baker

Next on the top 25 will be B&J's aritisan ales in Corpus Christi, Texas

Dec 2, 2011 11:04 am
 Posted by  The Pour Fool

There are some legitimately nice beers on this list but what it mainly tells me is that you just don't taste very widely. Every single item on this list is HIGHLY debatable and a compelling argument can be made that there is a better choice than the ones you came up with.

Examples: The stouts list is thoughtful and broad but doesn't include Deschutes "The Abyss" or Goose Island "Bourbon County" or Great Divide "Yeti". The IPA list includes several great ones - especially Ninkasi "Tricerahops" - but no 21st Amendment "Hop Crisis", Laughing Dog "Alpha Dog", or, incredibly, Russian River "Pliny"(?!), which I'm not personally fond of but, c'mon, what is that? Reverse snobbery?

The Pales are nice but where are the NWPAs? Deschutes "Red Chair"? NOTHING from the Portland metro breweries? Hopworks? Laurelwood "Workhorse" IPA? Walking Man? Hair of the Dog? Upright Brewing? Any of this ringing any bells?

Your list isn't bad, as these things go but I would think a company like The Enthusiast would at least make more of an effort to be thorough. I've seen lists from samll-city newspapers in New England that were as credible as this - and more comprehensive. Nice try, I guess but ultimately just the obvious and cliched. Claim individual tastes if you want but, to ANY serious beer freak, this list reeks of dilettante-ism.

This has been flagged
Dec 2, 2011 02:02 pm
 Posted by  Lauren Buzzeo

The Pour Fool - Thanks for the comments, and I understand where you're coming from. However, I would like to point out that this is not an all-time Top 25 Beer list. The list does not say that these are all the ultimate choices for the category they represent, but per the introduction, this Top 25 beer list is culled from what was submitted and reviewed in our magazine's Beer Buying Guide throughout the given year. Or, to quote the intro: "The beers presented on the following pages are among the best- reviewed selections we tasted over the past 12 months."

Your examples are wonderful, and certainly show the breadth of your personal tasting experience, but unfortunately not all of these fantastic brews were submitted for review in the past year. I adore all the stouts you mentioned, certainly some of the best of the bunch, and same for your IPA recs. But as you know, there are COUNTLESS options out there for any beer lover to try, and any list will inevitably be missing something according to someone... it's just not possible to taste everything and please every hardcore beer lover.

I appreciate your feedback, but as a proud cross-drinker and serious beer geek, take a bit of offense to your claim of dilettantism. I am very serious about beer and the work I do for the magazine, and am proud of every tasting, article and note that I can share with our audience. This list is about advocating beer and blurring the lines dividing the wine and beer worlds. The list, and all the beer content we generate, are a starting point of reference for so many people. I don't want people to just trust my reviews, I want them to read them, become interested or intrigued, and go out and try the beers for themselves and formulate their own opinions! Wine and beer tastings are subjective and personal, and while there will always be people who disagree, the ultimate goal of education, information and spreading the word remains achieved.

Here's to great beer & spreading the word!

Dec 2, 2011 04:03 pm
 Posted by  CzekM8

Nice, thoughtful response, Lauren.

I love, love, love craft beers, but I'll never understand the mentality of the self-appointed "beer snob." I've only tried about half of the beers on your list, and will make a point to pick up the others, if I happen to spot them at my local bottle shop. Keep up the good work!

Cheers!

This has been flagged
Dec 9, 2011 03:22 pm
 Posted by  Ragnar

Lauren, I love your response.

I think most people will see the title of "Top 25 Beers" and treat this list as a "Best beers ever" rather than "Best beers we drank this year", so perhaps some more clarification in the sub heading is necessary.

The list is basically a tool to guide people towards good beer, in that regard, it's great. Anyone looking to try new beer won't go wrong with any of the choices on the list. While we may not agree on the ranking, or even some of the choices, I think everyone can agree that someone looking to broaden their beer horizons can't go wrong with picking any beer off the list to sample.

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