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The 36 Best Beers You Can Buy Online Or At Your Local Store
We've got it all: mainstream lagers, cult-status IPAs, innovative craft stouts, and more.
It's been brewing for a while, but at this point, it's safe to say: We're in the golden age of beer. And that means it's a great time to expand your horizons—to embrace your favorites and learn more about them or discover totally new-to-you styles. To help you do just that, we've rounded up 36 of the best beers you can sip on right now. From mainstream lagers and historic Belgian ales to cult-status IPAs and innovative craft stouts, these are the hits: the flagship beers, the genre-establishing beers, the experimental beers that took off.
We've also defined different types of beers for you, so while you're sipping on that new IPA you are loving, you can read up about the differences between a New England–style and a West coast–style. Or while you are finding your next go-to brew, you can learn what makes a German-style beer German.
What's more? It's easier than ever to try out bottles and cans, both new and old, without leaving home. Shop all our picks right here, and get them delivered straight to your home. Ready, set, cheers!
Looking for something more specific? Check out our favorite low-carb beers and Irish varieties. Or can we interest you in some recipes? These three are perennial hits: beer-battered fish, beer cheese dip, and beer can chicken.
Mexican lagers are a warm-weather classic, and few have stood the test of time like Modelo Especial. This iconic favorite is a shining example of what makes Mexican lagers great. Mexican brewing traditions shaped the Vienna lager style into something uniquely its own—subtly toasty and caramel-forward with a dry finish that keeps is crisp. If you're not having a Modelo Especial with your tacos or at your barbecues, you're doing it wrong.
Another refreshing easy drinker is Miller High Life. Having been around since 1903, this lager is a key piece of American beer history. Even if you're not old enough to have seen the commercials firsthand, you remember the 1970s-era jingle, "If you've got the time, we've got the beer." High Life is just so clean and simple that even craft beer and cocktail pros count it as their mainstream brew of choice, and its "Champagne of Beers" identity is an endearing play on the high-low concept. From daytime gatherings to late night bar visits, Miller High Life is a familiar comfort.
Big Beer, a.k.a. Budweiser and Coors, are most often associated with light lagers. Craft breweries make them too, though, and the results are typically even better. The Nite Lite Craft Light Lager from Night Shift Brewing in Massachusetts converted anti-light lager craft fans. The Nite Lite is a lager at its cleanest, most balanced, and bubbliest.
Few beers can claim a history that dates back to the 13th century, but the purely perfect Pilsner Urquell is just that legendary. It's crafted in Plzen in the Czech Republic, a city that's famous for its soft water, which gives a nice, round finish to what would become the classic Czech pilsner. Made since 1842, Pilsner Urquell is easily the style's best known and best loved iteration.
Not all lagers are light. A schwarzbier is a traditional German style that combines the easy-drinking nature of a lager (clean, low in alcohol) with the complex flavor profile of a porter or stout (roastiness, coffee, chocolate). It's essentially, and sometimes called, a dark lager. One of the original producers of schwarzbier is Köstritzer, which has been brewing in Germany since 1543.
The Weihenstephan Abbey Brewery is one of the world's oldest, founded in 1040. Its Hefe Weissbier is brimming with history—and a German wheat beer's special flavors of banana and clove. It's also a total trail-blazer as far as Germany's beers are concerned. The country's 1516 law requires German beer to be made only from water, hops, and barley (and later, when fermentation was understood, yeast)...until Georg Schneider acquired a dispensation in 1872 and commercial breweries began to make wheat beers.
Schöfferhofer's Grapefruit Hefeweizen is a fresh—and refreshing—take on the essential German wheat beer for anyone who enjoys a fruity beer. The brewery made the first grapefruit hefeweizen in 2007. This beer is half hefeweizen, half grapefruit, so those banana, clove, and bread flavors are brightened with tart citrus. While delicious on its own, it's also a great base for beer cocktails.
Bell's Brewery in Michigan quickly became the forefather of the American approach to wheat beers with the Oberon Ale. American wheat ales don't have the banana and clove flavors of German versions, instead playing up the wheaty-ness with subtle fruit aromas and a touch of spice from the hops. Bell's Oberon is so popular that when it's rolled out each year, the brewery and bars and shops who stock the beer celebrate with events and parties; there's even a holiday for it.
California's Lagunitas Brewing Co. is famous for its IPA, but the brewery has another flagship beer that fans love. Lagunitas takes the American wheat ale one step further with the Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale, a beer that brings the wheat style into bolder territory with a hoppy twist.
The Fat Tire Amber Ale is somewhat of a beer industry darling. Colorado's New Belgium Brewing was one of the earliest trailblazers in what we now know as craft beer, and co-founder Kim Jordan is revered as an important game-changer in what has historically been a male-dominated industry. The Fat Tire is named for Jordan and partner Jeff Lebesch's bicycling trip through Belgium that inspired them to open a brewery, and it was one of the first two beers they sold in 1991. Other breweries have held the Fat Tire as a model for well-balanced amber ales ever since.
Since opening in 2003, Yazoo has inspired a vibrant beer scene to bubble up in Nashville. The Dos Perros Ale is one of its beloved flagship brews. It's a Mexican-style take on the brown ale, first made in England in the 17th century. Dos Perros nails the brown ale's nutty malt character with a touch of chocolate, but lightens things up, as Mexican brewers frequently do, with flaked maize for a perfect balance.
If it's something more straightforward you're after, Newcastle Brown Ale is like the brown ale poster child. The English beer has been brewed since 1927, and it's a can't-fail classic you can count on when you see it on the menu. Brewed with pale and crystal malts, it's light and bready with touches of nuttiness and dried fruit.
Today, Belgium's beer scene is richly varied between independent breweries and Trappist breweries (certain abbeys that make beer) producing beautiful interpretations of iconic styles. More recently, as in during the 20th century, Belgian brewers sought to compete with German and Czech lagers with lighter styles, and the blonde ale was born. The Leffe Blonde Ale is the most classic, widely known and loved version of the effervescent, grainy-sweet, orange-y and lemon-y and sometimes a little spicy style.
Chimay's Grande Reserve is for when you're feeling a little fancy. Popping that cork is the beer equivalent of popping a nice bottle of champagne. The Grande Reserve is a Belgian Strong Ale, which boasts a bouquet of caramel, toast, plum, fig, raisin, pepper, and perfume notes with a boozy warmth. Chimay is also an example of a Belgian Trappist breweries—one of 14 in the entire world.
For a modern American take on farmhouse ales (more on those in a sec), turn to Connecticut's Two Roads Brewing Company. Their expertise is clear in the light, fruity, spicy Workers' Comp. Now for the history: Farmhouse ales were brewed with leftover crops during the winter and then saisonniers, or seasonal workers, drank them in the summer. That's where the name of a sub-group of farmhouse ales comes from, saisons. Farmhouse ales are a loose category, but often identified by tart and funky flavors with a crisp dryness that's super refreshing.
Pennsylvania's Victory Brewing makes one of America's favorite takes on the Belgian tripel, which is usually fruity and spicy and on the stronger side, at 7.5-9.5% ABV. Golden Monkey packs notes of banana, clove, orange, and earthy hops, with a dry finish. Made since 1997, it set the bar for American breweries to try their hands at Belgian beers.
Ommegang's Three Philosophers is a special treat. It's a blend of two styles: a kriek and a quadrupel. A kriek is a lambic (more on this on the next slide) made with cherries, and a quadrupel is a strong, dark Belgian ale with caramel, molasses, bread, and pepper flavors. The combo is a lovely American twist on a Belgian classic that smells and tastes like brown sugar, dark fruit, chocolate, caramel, vanilla, and of course, cherries.
Okay, let's talk about lambics. Lambics are made with cherries (that's the kriek), raspberries, peaches, and more, for a sweet take on the original style. One of the best known and best loved versions is a raspberry version: Lindemans Framboise. It's sweet and juicy (and only 2.5% alcohol!) with a crisp twist of carbonation. And because lambics are fermented spontaneously, the final taste is unpredictable but usually tart, funky, and dry.
Collective Arts Brewing is a Canadian brewery known for emphasizing a mix of art and beer, so it's no surprise they got creative. Their Guava Gose is one of the most exciting takes on the style, a lush tropical vacation in a can. It's brewed with malted barley and malted wheat along with coriander and salty water for a finish that's tart, funky, crisp, and yep, a little salty. Like the lambic, goses a popular base for adding fruit.
Springdale's Lavenade Tart Ale is a Berliner weisse with lavender and lemon. It's very on trend with its dreamy fragrant character, and its punchy, zippy lemon is super refreshing, making it a must on warm days. American craft breweries keep pushing forward the evolution of German and Belgian-inspired Berliner weisses, a tart, bready, low-alcohol German style also commonly riffed on with different fruit additions.
No list of best beers would be complete without the Anchor Steam Beer, considered the first American craft beer by experts. Anchor Brewing first brewed their steam beer, otherwise known as a California Common, in San Francisco in 1896. They're still doing so today, making it one of the longest running commercial examples of an original American beer style. Called "steam beers," Commons are malty yet light and smooth amber brews. Anchor's Steam is every bit as refreshing today as it was nearly 125 years ago.
Sierra Nevada is a titan of American beer, having helped put craft beer on the map in 1979. You probably know them for their Pale Ale, a beer approachable enough for craft novices to love and nuanced enough to have garnered cult status among brewers. Its piney, citrusy hop character paved the way for America's love affair with the IPA, while the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale remains a staple in its own right.
While the Daisy Cutter Pale Ale from Half Acre Beer Company is a craft kid compared to the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, it's still got a respectable decade under its belt. Ten years basically makes a beer a wise and revered elder in the craft brewing world. This Chicago-brewed pale ale has all the dank hoppiness of a more assertive IPA, but at a lighter, smoother clip, making it a more crushable source of hop flavor.
The India Pale Ale style was born out of England sending their pale beer to India with lots of hops that acted as preservatives in the 1800s. Today, it's one of the most popular styles in the United States because of its big, bold flavors, and Cigar City's Jai Alai is one of the most popular versions of that style. Named for a game invented in the Basque region of Spain, Jai Alai has in previous years been the best-selling craft six-pack in American grocery stores.
Let's talk West Coast vs. New England IPAs: West Coast IPAs are closer to the original form of the style. They're bright with a dry finish and most importantly, a bouquet of herbal, citrusy, bitter hop notes. More recently, New England IPAs came to represent a less bitter iteration of the style. They're hazy and juicy, often with lots of tropical fruit character and a smoothie-like quality. The Sip of Sunshine IPA from Vermont brewery Lawson's Finest Liquids is the best of both worlds. It's often classified as a New England IPA, or NEIPA, because of its tropical characteristics, but it has the floral hop quality and bitter punch of a West Coast take.
The Ithaca Flower Power IPA is another form of West Coast meets Northeast for India Pale Ales. Brewer Jeff O'Neil had worked at several breweries in the Bay Area, and he brought his expertise in creating a pitch perfect West Coast IPA to New York when he went to work for Ithaca Beer Co. Flower Power is considered one of the most important beers in the industry because of how it introduced a West Coast–style done right to the East.
California brewery Bear Republic Brewing Co. launched Racer 5 back when there were only 500 breweries in the United States. It paved the way for American IPAs with its flavor profile: notes of pine and citrus from Cascade and Chinook hops, balanced by subtle sweetness from the malt.
This is the beer that started the whole double IPA trend. Pliny the Elder, from California brewery Russian River, is responsible for Very Important Beer Moments: Brewer and now owner (with wife Natalie) Vinne Cilurzo is credited with inventing the double IPA, taking the West Coast IPA to a higher level of piney bitterness. Pliny the Elder also kick-started today's beer nerd culture. The lifestyle of lining up for brews, trading them, photographing and reviewing them for blogs and social media, can essentially be drawn back to the hullabaloo around Pliny the Elder releases, excitement that still hasn't died down to this day.
Speaking of beer nerd culture: If you're an IPA fan, you might be aware of the style's own cult status. King Sue is a Double IPA from Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. in Decorah, IA. The brewery had wowed consumers with their IPA, Pseudo Sue, and doubled its hoppiness and tropical milkshake-y-ness for King Sue. The result is a perpetually sought after brew, an instant status symbol for your Instagram feed.
Heady Topper is a double IPA from Vermont brewery The Alchemist. Just as Racer 5 helped define the West Coast IPA and Pliny the Elder helped define the double IPA, Heady Topper helped define the hazy New England IPA. This beer is so good and has been so famously hard to find in the past that there are social media accounts dedicated to spotting it, people would get on planes when they found out it was being sold somewhere, and when the brewery had a brewpub, customers would actually secretly bottle the beer in the bathroom to sell or trade. This double IPA is genre-defining and legendary—make sure you follow the can's instructions and drink it without a glass.
Guinness has been making the dark stuff in Dublin for nearly 250 years, and Guinness Draught Stout wrote the book on stouts, laying the groundwork for smooth and roasty dark beers with dreamy, creamy foam. This particular stout has always been a favorite at pubs. A brew that's inspired lessons on how to pour it should be taken seriously and thoroughly enjoyed.
One could argue that the next most iconic stout after a Guinness is Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout. Introduced in the mid-1990s, the BCS became one of American's most-hyped beers. While a stout aged in bourbon barrels is pretty common now, Goose Island basically built the mold with its velvety smooth, coffee-chocolate vibes rolled in smoke and whiskey notes. Goose then went on to break that mold with covetable variants each year, like Midnight Orange and Coffee Barleywine.
There's a lot that's special about Samuel Smith's Organic Chocolate Stout. The brewery is an English landmark, operating in Yorkshire since 1758. This stout is a shining example of a sweet stout, balancing a stout's burnt and roasty character with milky sweetness—in this case, it's notes of mocha and cocoa, like an indulgent but grown-up dessert. Plus, this chocolate stout is not only organic, it's vegan, too.
Bomb! Imperial Stout from Oklahoma's Prairie Artisan Ales is an example of mad scientist flavor combos that work harmoniously. This luscious stout is aged on espresso and vanilla beans, chocolate, and ancho chile peppers. The requisite roasty stout flavors are there, plus a stronger coffee presence, sweet vanilla, and milky chocolate all fired up with a flash of heat in the finish. This is one exciting brew.
Why eat your s'mores when you can drink them? The Dino S'mores Imperial Marshmallow Stout from Chicago's Off Color Brewing is the modern craft stout, interpreted with playful yet expert flavor ideas. It's a heavy-hitter at 10.5% ABV, brewed with graham flour, marshmallows, molasses, cocoa nibs, and vanilla beans.
The difference between porters and stouts is contested, but one key discerning factor is that porters are made from malted barley and stouts are made from unmalted barley that's been roasted. So, in general (there are exceptions), porters skew more nutty-chocolate-coffee and stouts skew more roasty-espresso-coffee. Colorado's Breckenridge Brewery sweetens things up in a lovely take on the traditional porter, brewed with vanilla. Notes of chocolate and nuttiness are still there, with the sweetness of vanilla, but this porter is far from cloying—the Vanilla Porter is smooth, drinkable, and balanced.