The 13 Best Craft Beers

In the US there has been a recent renaissance of craft beer, from the south to the north, even to Hawaii. These craft beers are made by independent and usually small brew breweries who take serious pride in making small batches of craft beer that go big on flavor.

Craft beer can be anything from wheat beer to IPAs to fancy lager, the term ‘craft’ simply refers to the creation of something that is made without profits in mind; the product is made with simple enjoyment in mind.

10 Beer Affiliate Programs
10 Beer Affiliate Programs

The ‘craft’ of these beers, the skill and craftsmanship that has gone into it, is the main draw, rather than the drinks' fiscal value or saleability.

Beyond that, any red blooded American will have respect for the brewers craft. However, the last thing you want to do is waste your money on a crate of craft beer that you don’t actually like because you didn’t do your research.

With craft beer you’re mainly paying for the craftsmanship of the brew, so prices don’t always indicate quality, necessarily.

That’s why we're here - we’ve reviewed the weird, the wonderful, and the bang average, so you don’t waste your money on something you know you won’t like. Read our guide to the best craft beers on the market to learn more. 

OUR TOP PICK

This wheat ale is made by the reliable brewers at Goose Island who have been a resident tap at many great bars for years, but with this venture they have taken a craft approach to their brewing methods.

This wheat ale is somewhat similar to a Blue Moon, which you may recognise, with its citrusy flavors that lean more towards lemon than the orange of Blue Moon. This ale has a spicy aroma which is split by a crisp and fruity finish.

Brewed with millennium, cascade, and hallertau hops - if you like this one then remember the hops and you have some gauge to find other craft beers you will enjoy that use the same hops.

This one is perfect for summer so pick up a crate and get them in the fridge for a hot day!

Pros

  • Great for summer
  • Already a renowned brewer
  • Crisp and refreshing
  • Sessionable ABV

Cons

  • Not great for those who don’t enjoy lemony flavors

EDITORS CHOICE

This is another great craft beer for the summer. This light beer has a fresh mango flavor that is inspired by the fresh and iconic fruit carts of Los Angeles.

Brewed with 2-row and wheat malts as well as Bravo hops, this a hoppy and crisp finish to cut through the sweetness of the mango. Although, the sweetness of the magno isn’t overpowering, rather it blends well with the citrus hoppiness of the wheat beer.

At a very sessionable 4.0% ABV you could drink these all day in the sun without too much worry about making a fool of yourself.

Whether you are soaking up the sun on the streets of LA or simply relaxing on your porch, this craft beer is a great accompaniment to any sunny occasion.

Pros

  • Great for Summer
  • Sessionable ABV
  • Supports American breweries

Cons

  • Perhaps exclusive to summer, not so great for winter.
  • Not recommended for those who don’t enjoy a sweetness in their beer. 

BEST VALUE

This is a brewing company that epitomises craft brewing, fancy hops, bold flavors, and kooky marketing.

This IPA has some complex tasting notes that we invite you to see if you can pick out as we did: ripe melon, juicy citrusy pineapple and a light pepperiness are balanced with the sweetness of guava, and other tropical fruits on the nose.

The ale is well balanced with bitterness as well as sweetness. At 5.5% ABV this is a few and through kind of ale that is actually well recommended to try with food and can even be refreshing with lunch.

Pros

  • Cool design and marketing
  • Great for all seasons
  • Complex tasting notes

Cons

  • High ABV

RUNNER UP

This is a much lighter, herbal, IPA that may be preferable to those who don’t necessarily enjoy the sweetness of most American IPAs.

This IPA has a mild but grassy flavor that has notes of tropical melon, citrus, grass all balanced with a moderate bitterness that adds a toasted element to the flavor. 

If you don’t enjoy sweet IPAs then this could be an IPA you enjoy. However, the high ABV may put some people off the beer. Fremont remains a consistent craft brewery that operates out of the US so it’s good to know you’re supporting US brewers too!

Pros

  • Great for the IPA skeptic
  • Great for someone who doesn’t enjoy sweet beers

Cons

  • High ABV could put some off buying too many

RUNNER UP

This US brewed beer is a double hazy IPA made in the east coast style. Expect flavors and aromas of fruit juice, berries, grapes, and the sweetness of strawberry. As a hazy IPA this is very fruity and juice-forward.

The beer is great during summer and would pair well with any American BBQ food. Although, at 8.5% ABV this is definitely one for the FML moments, this double IPA definitely does all it can to help you out.

A ‘double’, or ‘imperial’ IPA is simply one that has gone above 7% and is much stronger because of that and also more hoppy, this style was created in the US.

Pros

  • Lots of flavor
  • Great with food
  • Tropical flavors are great for summer

Cons

  • Very high ABV

RUNNER UP

This Pilsner is American brewed but uses German Tettnang and Hallertau hops as well as German brewing methods to create this crisp pilsner. The crisp finish is all thanks to the Cargill Pilsner Malt that makes this beer a snappy one.

While this beer has a clean and refreshing finish it has a very floral aroma in the mouth that is fairly uncommon of a pilsner. At 5.4% this is a pilsner on the heavier side but will be enjoyed by many who enjoy a stronger lager style.

Pros

  • American brewed with traditional methods
  • A fruity pilsner, different to other brands
  • Higher ABV percentage could be desirable

Cons

  • Lacks bold designs
  • Small cans

RUNNER UP

This is an example of how a craft brewery that starts locally in the US can become a global brand, this ale has even found its way to the pubs in the Uk as well as many other foreign destinations.

It’s no surprise this ale has received international acclaim for its big flavors and island take on the mundane golden ale.

Brewed with a special blend of hops and caramel malt, this ale has lots of tropical notes that are inspired by its island surroundings, being brewed in Hawaii. 

This generally makes for an easy drinking beach bottle that will go down a treat while bathing in the sun.

Pros

  • International acclaim
  • Brewed in the US
  • Easy drinker

Cons

  • Those who aren’t a fan of the tropical and sweet flavor profiles should steer clear.

RUNNER UP

This Imperial IPA pours a golden color that has heavy pine notes as well a moderately hoppy bitterness, but clean finish. At 9% you really don't need much of this Imperial, or double, IPA to have a good time.

This craft beer is made in the US and utilises some modern brewing methods to reach this 9% double IPA rating.

One thing we loved was the total absence of preservatives and added chemicals that are often found in beer, this is another reason to go for craft beer. For those who love a hoppy kick that isn’t overwhelming, this double IPA could be for you.

Pros

  • Organic ingredients
  • Strong but not overwhelming hoppiness
  • Modern brewing methods you can trust

Cons

  • Very high ABV for beer

RUNNER UP

This IPA is made to be one you can drink all day, but even at 4.7% you’ll still feel it after a few for sure. A complex balance of ingredients creates some refreshing citrus, floral, and tropical notes that make this perfect for a hot day working in the sun.

With four varieties of malts this has some desirable bitterness that is moreish and will have you coming back for more.

At Founders brewing company they are also really focused on making their company super sustainable, this is another reason buying craft beer can cut out the big corp profits that disable this sort of approach to brewing.

Pros

  • Made to be sessionable and drink ‘all day’
  • Sustainability focused brewing company
  • Light bodied

Cons

  • 4.7% isn’t that sessionable for most people.

RUNNER UP

This is a hazy style IPA that is bursting with bright and fruity flavors. Expect tropical notes thanks to the common Mosaic and Citra hops we see in modern IPA brewing.

This IPA’s hazy style makes it really juicy, refreshing, and another IPA that has the perfect flavor profile for a summer BBQ. This IPA is called ‘Neverending’ and at 4% you could easily drink these all day until the sun comes back up again and not feel too bad.

This is another craft brewer from the US, so you’d be supporting US brands while drinking the good stuff.

Pros

  • 4% is very sessionable and desirable by many
  • US brand
  • Summer drinker

Cons

  • Strong summer flavors may seem out of place in certain seasons.

RUNNER UP

This Hazy IPA is another easy drinker made for summer BBQs. Yet, this is an IPA with all the flavor but with minimal compromises. This beer does well to balance overwhelming flavors with a refreshing finish.

At only 96 calories at 1g of carbs, this is a healthier choice for those drinkers who don’t want to add the pounds on. Brewed by local brewers in California, you can guarantee American craftsmanship.

What’s more, the brewers at Firestone are dedicated to brewing for a better tomorrow. They really do what they can not just to make healthier beers, but also to save water, minimise waste, and increase sustainable practices.

Pros

  • Really low in calories for a beer
  • Fairly health for a beer
  • Sustainability-focused company

Cons

  • Not a strong flavor profile

RUNNER UP

Brewed in Oregon, this has all the flavor and vibes of an Oregon sunset and is exactly why American based brewing company Ninkasi has received a cult following.

The hop experience of Ninaski’s Prismatic is tropical and fruity but is well balanced with a bitter finish, passionfruit and guava aftertastes linger and excite the tongue along with a smooth and scintillating mouth feel.

This is truly a beer made for the summer. With a relatively high ABV, you won’t need many of these, or feel free to indulge a few more while you bake in the sun.

Pros

  • Super summer flavors
  • Well-balanced flavors 
  • American-made

Cons

  • High ABV may put some off
  • Not for those who hate sweet beer

RUNNER UP

Sierra Nevada is a now well known brand but once started as a one man show and what we recognise now as a craft beer, as many still do.

This has the flavor profile you might expect of a West Coast IPA, one that has hop forward bitterness and malty finishes likely thanks to some interesting malts such as oats as well as Munich malts.

However the hops give this ‘hazy little thing’ the haziness that we would expect from an East Coast IPA. So, this is a great combination of both these american styles that creates something we all can enjoy, especially at 6.9%

Pros

  • Good balanced flavors
  • Great leveller between west coast and east coast styles
  • Clever use of malts
  • God in many different occasions and weathers

Cons

  • Quite strong ABV that could throw some customers off

Conclusion

The 13 Best Craft Beers

As you can see, the world of craft beer has never been stronger than ever. It’s clear how varied craft beer can be, but also how rewarding supporting your local brewery can be.

Supporting craft breweries allows you to not only support local American business and independent trade, but also the faculty of independent brewing.

Independent brewing that isn't controlled by big corporations allows for these companies to remain sustainable and reduce their imprint on the environment. 

Drinking beer is the American pastime, and now you can support AAAmerica, and the environment, with your beer drinking - cheers to that!

Mandy Winters