What to Drink

The Top 50 beers you must try in 2021

We bring you 50 beers that have a stamp of approval from beer experts with a direct commercial buying responsibility in the US beer market.

American beers took the 2021 USA Beer Ratings by storm in San Francisco, bagging 14 gold medals and 4 special category awards. Retail beer buyers, beer consultants, bartenders, bar managers, and beer experts rate beers in the competition on the basis of their quality, value, and packaging. The quality of the beer is assessed based on its appearance, taste, aroma, body, aftertaste, and mouthfeel. After that, the judges determine the value of the brew in comparison to its quality. And lastly, the packaging of the beer is judged by the label design and information presented on the bottle label, closure, and the overall look. It is about how the product will be perceived when placed on a retail shelf amongst thousands of other beers.

Acknowledging the expertise of this elite judging panel, 50 beers made their way into the elite bracket as judges re-tasted gold medal and special category winners with the aim to ensure the credibility of scoring.

Dr. Lupulin

96 points

Taking home the Beer of the Year, Best in Show by country (United States), and Best Beer of the Year by packaging, Dr. Lupulin from Revision Brewery was the standout performer at the 2021 USA Beer Ratings with its refreshing palate of ripe orange peel, pine, and grapefruit peel hop characteristics. The beer’s unique bottle design combines the awesomeness of art and science.

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Monk's Café Grand Cru

95 points

The Monk's Café Grand Cru has rich aromas of candied fruits and sweet tart candies, with ripe cherry and fig jam nuances that finish on a sweet note. Grabbing the Best in Show by country (Belgium) and Best Beer of the Year by quality, the Grand Cru asserted its place on the podium by dominating the mouthfeel and the aftertaste.

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Lush Puppy

95 points

Bootstrap Brewing’s Lush Puppy was awarded the Best Beer of the Year by Value at the 2021 USA Beer Ratings, impressing the judges with its juicy bursts of lemon, orange, grapefruit, and candied pine nuts. Be sure to give this one a try if you are looking for something fruity.

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As Above Sour Below with Tangerine and Key Lime

94 points

Letting the name speak for itself, this one from the Church Street Brewing Company explodes with bright citrus flavors of lime and tangerine driven with a savory finish. The As Above Sour Below with Tangerine and Key Lime hopped on to a gold medal at the awards.

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Get Right

93 points

The Get Right brew is a light beer with sour notes of lime and salt, making it ideal to accompany you on hot summer afternoons. Pair the beer with a spicy chicken burger, fries, and a salad to make a delicious meal.

Night Nurse

92 points

Refresh yourself with dark flavors of toasted peanut, burnt espresso, and candied walnut as you sip on the well balanced palate of the Night Nurse. The beer will soothe you with its dark chocolate aromas, ending with a crisp finish. A well deserved gold medal winner!

Leave No Trace Lager

92 points

Brewed in Bavarian style, the Leave No Trace Lager is carbonated in 100% composted grain hops. It has flavors of peanut, cloves, citrus peels, and roasted sweetcorn, stimulating a clean and crisp finish. Enjoy this Pale Malty European Lager with herbed chicken sauteed in vegetables.

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Buckskin Heller Bock

92 points

The Buckskin Heller Bock is a malty beer with hints of roasted walnut, cocoa nibs, and cold coffee brew. Basking in slightly thick honey flavors, the brew rounds off a bitter character with malt aromas and unique hop characteristics.

Go Nuts

92 points

With no noticeable hop flavors, the Go Nuts Cream Ale has a heavy mouthfeel, denoting orange, bitter dark, and lemon peel notes. The palate finishes clean with vanilla flavors and slight sweetness from the corn, showing similarities to a pilsner or a light lager.

Shadow Puppet Brewing Company - Tartbreak

92 points

Glowing with guava scents, the Tartbreak from Shadow Puppet Brewing Company is a tangy wheat ale. The guava and green apple nose dive into a palate of soft pie crust and citrus notes. The beer is very light and refreshing.

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Kiara IPA

91 points

A bright herbal note lingers on the finish after going through a rush of grapefruit and salt-sea aromas with the Kiara IPA. The Domaine Terra Vecchia crafts artisanal Corcisan beers with organic citrus fruits harvested from their own orchards in France. Try this 5% ABV brew for a citrusy inflow of hazy fruit hops.

Piraat

91 points

The Piraat is an amber beer with complex and rich flavors of caramel, cold brew coffee, chocolate, and dried plums. Its malty palate is complex and rich with hop bitters and a long finish. The nose is bittersweet and spicy with honey and clove aromas.

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Veza Sur - Spanglish Lager

91 points

Made to slurp on hot days, the Spanglish Lager from Veza Sur is light, refreshing and pleasantly sweet. Comprising honey, candied apple, and cornbread flavors on the palate, the brew pairs well with spicy chicken wings.

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Chumaceiro Art Brewers - Golden Ale

91 points

In search of a Golden Ale? The Chumaceiro Art Brewers - Golden Ale will hold you together with a stone fruit and clove nose. As you sip away, light notes of roasted corn and peach yogurt will sink in to give you a creamy mouthfeel.

Sober Carpenter Irish Red

90 points

The highest rated non-alcoholic beer on the list, Irish Red from Sober Carpenter presents strawberry, raspberry, and green pepper notes. A biscuit layered dough with cranberries make up an interesting palate, leaving behind a burnt bread aftertaste.

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Bo Pils

90 points

With a light and crisp finish, the Bo Pils from East Brother Beer Company has mild hoppiness and a soft carbonation. Its rich malt aromas of graham cracker and lightly toasted challah on the nose lead to a citrus palate. The beer is light gold to honey colored with an excellent head retention.

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Gold IPA

90 points

Inspired by West Coast IPAs, Gold IPA delivers a healthy dose of grain bill, oozing with tropical hop notes of pineapple. With a medium body and bright carbonation, the beer discharges nectarine, peach, and apricot nuances.

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Buckskin Munich Helles

90 points

Left to mature for a long time in low temperatures, the Buckskin Munich Helles is a suitable add for large mouthfuls with aromas of rye, honeysuckle, and pepper spice on the nose. The palate of the golden Munich lager is slightly herbaceous, honeyed, and has a slight savory nuance, playing a great supporting role with food options like poached eggs, salads, French fries, sauteed scallops, pork chops, and other fried dishes.

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Wreak Havoc

90 points

A smooth and very hoppy Imperial Red Ale, Wreak Havoc exudes fresh cedar and dark rum aromas. Tasting of burnt molasses, sweet maple, and roasted nuts, the Bootstrap Brewing has put forward this distinctive brew from their gluten reduced collection.

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Revision IPA

90 points

Yet another masterpiece from the Brewery of the Year title holders, the Revision IPA is a brew with guava, pineapple, and mango hints. The gold medal winning beer from Revision Brewery has a palate driven by charred pineapples and mango peels that deliver a tropical punch.

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Shadow Puppet Brewing Company - Blood Orange Lupi

90 points

For those searching for a fruit forward beer, the Blood Orange Lupi is an excellent implementation of blood orange. Brewed in orange purée, the beer is crisp and refreshing, making it a valuable add to your summer drinking list.

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Rainmaker Ale

89 points

A silver medal winner, the Rainmaker Ale is one of Stormcloud Brewing Company’s best creations. The Belgian Ale has a citrus palate of lemon rind, grapefruit juice, and orange peel. Pair this brew with fried food dishes for an ultimate beer and food experience.

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Outlaw Milk Stout

89 points

Famous for its rich silky mouthfeel, the Outlaw Milk Stout is a nutty beer with candied walnut and roasted peanut hints. The Great Basin Brewing have crafted this beer from the generous use of roast and caramel malt.

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Sally Blonde Ale

89 points

Named in honor of the famous actress and burlesque dancer, Sally Rand, the Sally Blonde Ale is 5.1% ABV American Pale Ale. Driven by a nose of floral notes, slight malt sweetness, fresh dough, and black pepper, the beer jumps to a hoppy palate of honey bread and fresh toasted pine nuts.

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Oatmeal Stout

89 points

East Brother Beer Company’s third beer on the list, the Oatmeal Stout is a dark beer with notes of rich milk chocolate and dark fruit. It is incredibly well balanced between the roast, chocolate, and fruit characteristics, capable of long mouthfuls. It makes an impeccable pair with ice cream or a dense chocolate cake with an ABV of 5.4%.

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Buckskin Kölsch

89 points

Making its way from the Köln region of Germany, Buckskin Kölsch aromates with pear and melon scents. A dry and slightly spicy opening leads to a honey, rising bread, and lemon peel flavors, with a dustiness of black fruits and lily tinges.

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Insane Rush

89 points

Balancing malts and hops, Insane Rush has a blend of refreshing citrus notes of lime and lemon. On the palate, flavors of ripe yellow peach, grapefruit and fresh spices linger with pine aromas of the 7.6% ABV drink from Bootstrap Brewing.

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Uncle Money Pilsner

89 points

The Uncle Money Pilsner is a light and crisp brew with a grassy hop character. It has a clean finish with nuances of ripe herbs, suitable for pairing with BBQ chicken or pork ribs.

Atomic Tart Raspberry Sour Ale

89 points

Low-hopped American Wild Ale, Atomic Tart Raspberry Sour Ale from Lidl is a one of a kind beer. Featuring sweet raspberry purée and sour notes of lime, candies, and lemon meringue, the tartful ale goes well with spicy food.

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Kiara Citron

88 points
Domaine Terra Vecchia unleashes citrus aromas of oranges, candied lemon peels, grapefruit, and tangerines with the Kiara Citron. This one will delight all hopheads who like a citrus forward finished brew.

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Kiara Blonde

88 points

Giving a new definition to clean and crisp beers, the silver medal winner, Kiara Blonde has a zesty citrus nuance of ripe meyer lemon peels. Aromas of roasted pine nut, salted peanut shell, and orange peel will quickly grab your attention and provide instant revitalization.

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Jucifer Juicy Hazy IPA

88 points

The Jucifer Juicy Hazy IPA is a hop bomb that will make your nostrils flair and your tail point with its tropical papaya, mango, and grapefruit impressions. The beer has nuances of strawberry jam and grapefruit juice, providing a soft mouthfeel, leaving you wanting for more.

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Piraat Triple Hop

88 points

Evolving the flavor of Piraat Triple Hop by adding four new hops to the original Piraat, Brouwerij Van Steenberge crafted an IPA with strong hop aromas. It is a perfect blend of malty and bitter, exuding caramel macchiato, cocoa powder, and lemon verbena scents on the nose.

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Sneaky Snake - Belgian Golden Ale

88 points

Take a stroll in the forest with Sneaky Snake’s coriander, citrus peel, and bruised banana nuances. The light bodied ale unlocks a palate of honey, jasmine flowers, and ripe lemon, finishing delightfully with a smooth fresh biscuit aftertaste.

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Sober Carpenter Blonde Ale

88 points

Another Sober Carpenter non-alcoholic beer is on the list that claimed a silver medal. The Blonde Ale is lightly creamy with malt accents and custardy beet floral finishes. It has a fresh and bright nose with hints of coriander, honeysuckle, and citrus peels.

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Stick’s Pale Ale

88 points

The Stick’s Pale Ale has mild citrus notes layered with bruised peach and apple skin. The dry hopped American Pale Ale’s cooked citrus, nectarine marmalade, and canned peach flavors will leave you on a refreshing note, just like that of its lemon, pine bark, and white flower nose.

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Chillax

88 points

It is time to stock up on Bootstrap brews and this time it's yet another silver medal winner in the Chillax. Take up this amazing light fruit beer with pineapple and apple notes, giving it a juicy green color and a tangy, sweet, and subtle taste of the tropics. A highly recommended beer to sip all through summer.

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Sparkalicious Greyhound

88 points

Sparkalicious Greyhound is a well executed hard seltzer from Bootstrap Brewing with fresh and clean aromas of grapefruit, and a medium sweet beet palate consisting of real fruit flavors.

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Pull My Finger

88 points

The Pull My Finger from Bad Dad Brewery has a citrusy taste with malty sweetness, leaving a light bitter aftertaste on the finish. The IPA is driven with a tangy pineapple nose.

Perlenbacher Premium Pilsner

88 points

Offering a great value for its price, Perlenbacher Premium Pilsner is slightly malty with nuances of fresh hay, apples, and black pepper.

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Disco Ninja

88 points

Another winner from Revision Brewery, the Disco Ninja IPA is very crushable with incredible notes of citrus, pineapple, and mango on the body. Its hoppy characteristics will make you groove to the music, shaping you into a true disco ninja.

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Church Street Pils

88 points

The crisp and refreshing malty finish of Church Street Pils will keep you wanting for more with flavors of oxidized apples and hops, leading to a slightly sweet aftertaste.

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Maison De Campagne

88 points

With a good tart backbone, Maison De Campagne is a French inspired farmhouse style brew from Gilman Brewing Company. A light beer with notes of caramel and apple, the Maison De Campagne is relatively dry on the finish with lemon and lime notes.

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Kiara Ambree A La Clementine

87 points

Kiara Ambree A La Clementine is a silver medal holder, and also a part of Domaine Terra Vecchia’s refreshing collection of fruity beers on the list. This one has a crisp fruit start and a bit of spice on the finish.

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Barrel - Aged Hypnic Jerk

87 points

A luscious and full-bodied beer with toffee and caramel like aromas, Barrel - Aged Hypnic Jerk is textured with roasted barley and toasted almonds flavors. The wood beer is rich in maltiness with a 10% ABV.

Thomaston Lager

87 points

Thomaston Lager’s palate has a soft bitterness and fresh biscuit like flavors. With citrus, herbal, and floral aromas, the pilsner exudes hints of black pepper, lemon peel, and fresh cut grass. A must try crisp and light beer from the Clocktown Brewing Company.

Veza Sur - La Yuma

87 points

Looking for a light beer with a crispy malt finish? La Yuma from Veza Sur will do the trick with its smooth mouthfeel and a chocolate, roasted nut, and fresh biscuit nose.

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Bakalar Dry Hopped Non - Alcoholic

87 points

Reflecting golden colors on the eye, Bakalar Dry Hopped Non - Alcoholic beer has a big bready base of pretzel dough and wonderful hop traits.

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Lucky Bastard Blonde

87 points

Created with Czech hops for flavor and American hops for aroma, Lucky Bastard Blonde has just the right touch of bitter on the back palate. Enjoy a refreshing floral component of honeysuckle and lavender lingering on lemon zest, pine, and orange flower notes. The 4.7% ABV Czech Pale Ale is ideal for people who like their drink less hoppy.

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Galactic Extra Dark

87 points

Last but not the least, the stylish Galactic Extra Dark from Big Drop Brewing displays coffee and dark chocolate notes with smoke in barbeque tones. Erotic nuances of cigar, smoked meat, and charcoal make this one a instant favorite amongst those who like dark sensations.

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