What does it take to stand out in the crowded beer industry these days? A commitment to quality, a desire for innovation and an understanding and appreciation for ingredient nuance. There are more than 9,000 breweries in the United States and many thousands more around the world. These breweries are standing on the shoulders of committed professionals, scientists and farmers who have built a base of knowledge that creates a dynamic and engaging drinking experience.
This list represents the very best submitted to Wine Enthusiast, tasted throughout 2022. Hazy appearance is in fashion this year. But from the banana- and clove-forward Hefeweizens to the tropical and citrus hazy pale ales and international India pale ales, the selections here go well beyond looks. Smoky rauchbier joins ales and lagers with creative fruit-infused brews that span the colors of the rainbow and evoke an experience akin to walking through an orchard. Lagers continue to grow in the craft beer space, and from clear and bright helles to brooding Schwarzbiere, there are familiar flavors once reserved for larger brewers now available at a corner taproom.
Humble and workhorse styles like brown ale and cream ale serve as reminders that not every beer needs to be chasing trends.
American IPA was the most submitted category this year and what you’ll find on this list is a combination of familiar national brands and relative newcomers—including two that scored 100 points.
While some beers are suited for cellaring, remember, the best taste experience usually comes from drinking as close to the package date as possible. —John Holl