Wine Enthusiast’s: Top 25 Beers of 2019
To all those naysayers who have insisted for the past decade-plus that craft beer was just having a moment, I think it’s safe to say that the “moment” is here to stay. Indeed, what we have is an enduring movement.
The breadth of offerings has certainly expanded since the scene took hold in the early aughts, and quality beer is an established staple in any true beverage-lover’s arsenal.
Cross-drinking is also the new normal, as people have awakened to the joys of high-quality pours across category types. There’s far too much beauty to behold in the drinks world to remain exclusive to just one libation.
And so, in the quest to find the best of the best across all major categories, here we are once more, ready and willing to help you sort it all out with our end-of-year top lists covering wines, spirits, and, yes, beer.
As has been the case since our first list in 2009, it’s important for us to stress that this is not a top 25 beers of all time, or even a ranking of the best brews released this past year. Rather, this list represents the most impressive, interesting and exciting beers we had the pleasure to review throughout 2019.
And as always, balance is key in both my ratings and in compiling this list. While score and price play important roles in these rankings, so do diversity of brands, styles, countries, production sizes and availability. Because, as we all know, with such a wide world of delicious beers to try, why limit yourself?
So cheers to all the cross-drinkers out there, and here’s to better beer for all. –Lauren Buzzeo
#2 – Westmalle Trappist Ale Tripel
Brewed by one of the world’s 13 Trappist breweries, it doesn’t get more true-to-style than this classic Belgian brew. It pours a gorgeous golden color, with a frothy off-white head, like a glass of sunshine topped by a fluffy cloud. The nose is earthy, spicy and fruity, all in perfect harmony, with notes of baked apricot, banana bread, candied lemon peel, clove, browned sugar and peppery, yeasty spice. Despite the rich-smelling bouquet, the mouthfilling palate is dry and well-balanced by ample carbonation, dried tropical-fruit flavors and a touch of citrusy vibrancy. The lightly warming finish offers an abundance of baking and peppery spice tones that linger endlessly. abv: 9.5%
#12 – Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale
This iconic brown ale, from the family-owned Samuel Smith brewery, was introduced in cans in 2018, making it all the more easy to find and enjoy while out and about. It pours a rich mahogany brown color, with a solid beige head that shows good retention. The bouquet opens with enticing aromas of toasted malts, brown bread, caramelized brown sugar and warm hazelnuts. The medium-weight body is full and creamy in feel, with pleasant toasted nut and caramel malt flavors. A lightly bitter walnut flavor unfolds on the finish and lends a slight textural grip and dry sensation to the close, lifting the rich flavor profile and finishing clean. abv: 5%
#16 – Ayinger Bräuweisse
This classic, harmonious hefe is a beautiful pour, with a cloudy golden color and a fluffy white head that lingers. The bouquet opens with scents of fresh wheat, bread dough, clove-spiked banana and lemon rind. The palate is smooth and satisfying, medium in weight and just plush enough to give a rich impression without overly ripe or sweet flavors. Moderate carbonation keeps the experience refreshing and clean through the spicy finish. abv: 5.1%