10 Craft Beer Experts Name Their #1 Best Beer Of 2022

It’s hard to believe that we’re only a few days away from the start of 2023. The end of the year is a great time to look back at all of the accomplishments and events that shaped us in the past twelve months. And one of the ways that we measure accomplishments is by how many different, delicious, interesting beers we enjoyed this year — just like craft beer experts.

This year, we decided to ask a handful of brewers, beer professionals, and craft beer experts to tell us the absolute best beer they drank over the past 365 days. Below, you’ll find their favorite barleywines, stouts, sour beers, IPAs, and saisons. Keep scrolling to see all of their picks.

Highland Park Congratulations

Highland Park Congratulations
Highland Park

Dave Ziolkowski, head brewer at Arts District Brewing Company & Homebound Brewhaus in Los Angeles

ABV: 5.2%

Average Price: Limited Availability

The Beer:

Highland Park Brewery in Chinatown (Los Angeles) recently made a few one-off kegs of a mixed culture Saison called Congratulations — they tell me it’s their house lager, Baseball, that they dosed with some barrel sour cultures and set aside to naturally carb.

Tasting Notes:

It has the balance tuned to every setting that I find favorable- tart but very much in check, the Brettanomyces runs wild but it’s more must/overripe papaya than barny, and the body is silk from the natural carb. It is both high and low intensity on all settings in a fascinating way.

Sante Adairius West Ashley

Sante Adairius West Ashley
Sante Adairius

Daniel Gadala-Maria, brewer at Finback Brewing in Brooklyn, New York

ABV: 7.3%

Average Price: Limited Availability

The Beer:

West Ashley by Sante Adairius is mind-blowing. It’s a mixed-fermentation saison with apricot aged in pinot noir barrels. It’s pretty much the best mixed-ferm beer one could ever hope to encounter.

Tasting Notes:

It’s slightly tart, fruity, dry, super complex, and yet easy to drink. It’s definitely a beer to try if you haven’t already.

Fair Isle Season 3 Batch B

Fair Isle Season 3 Batch B
Fair Isle

Zach Fowle, Advanced Cicerone and head of marketing at Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. in Phoenix, Arizona

ABV: 7.3%

Average Price: Limited Availability

The Beer:

One of our brewers used to make beer for Fair Isle Brewing in Seattle. He recently had us try one of their club beers—Season 3, Batch B, a biere de garde made with chanterelle mushrooms and peppercorns—and I was floored.

Tasting Notes:

It begins with soft caramel, vanilla, and dried apricot notes, then segues into the earthy umami of those chanterelles. Pink peppercorns and toasted bark crackle at the moderately tart finish. It’s the most pleasantly complex, thought-provoking beer that I’ve tasted in a long time.

Jester King Atrial Rubicite

Jester King Atrial Rubicite
Jester King

Wes Burbank, head brewer at Flix Brewhouse in San Antonio

ABV: 5.8%

Average Price: $49.99 for a 750ml bottle

The Beer:

Atrial Rubicite from Jester King. This beer is just perfect all the way through – from the great sour base, the delicate and delicious barrel character, all the way through the obnoxious amount of raspberries added and then all re-fermented in the bottle. This beer is magic.

Tasting Notes:

Fruit esters, wine tannins, vanilla, oak, and a ton of raspberry jam make this tart, dry, slightly sweet beer truly memorable.

Steeplejack Alewife

Steeplejack Alewife
Steeplejack

Kaylen Gibbens, assistant brewmaster at Widmer Brothers Brewing in Portland, Oregon

ABV: 4%

Average Price: Limited Availability

The Beer:

That one is tough. It’s very difficult to pick a favorite. Although I’d say Steeplejack’s Alewife is up there – it’s a fantastic English dark mild ale and it has a great malty character and a low ABV. It’s a nice overall beer in a style that’s harder to find.

Tasting Notes:

This English-style dark ale starts off with hints of roasted malts, and candied nuts and winds its way into chocolate, caramel, and just a hint of floral hops.

Beachwood Amalgamator

Beachwood Amalgamator
Beachwood

Ryan Joy, lead brewer at Green Flash Brewery in San Diego

ABV: 7.1%

Average Price: $12.50 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

The Beer:

Amalgamator from Beachwood Brewing. I visited Beachwood’s Long Beach Pub back in the spring to get my hands on some of their wonderfully wild and sour beers and in the middle of my visit decided I needed some hops to cleanse my palette of all the awesome funk I was drinking. Amalgamator might be a perfect West Coast IPA.

Tasting Notes:

Moderately bitter and bursting with dank, resin, berry, and tropical flavor, this beer blew me away in its execution. I left with many four-packs.

Vennture Brew Bruv

Vennture Brew Bruv
Vennture Brew

Garth E. Beyer, certified Cicerone and owner and founder of Garth’s Brew Bar in Madison, Wisconsin

ABV: 5%

Average Price: Limited Availability

The Beer:

I have to throw “best beer I’ve had this year so far” to Vennture Brew Co and their Bruv beer. It’s a tart, light refreshing kettle-soured Berliner weisse style that tastes like a fruit salad, meets sour tropical cocktail, meets Lemonheads.

Tasting Notes:

I loved that they blended orange, cherry, pineapple, marshmallow, and coconut without making it a sweet, over-fruited (read: heavy) pastry sour. This is a sour that you can casually have a second of without wrecking your palate.

High Water Campfire Stout

High Water Campfire Stout
High Water

Teddy Bell, brewer at Living The Dream Brewing Co. in Littleton, Colorado

ABV: 6.5%

Average Price: $7.99 for a 22-ounce bottle

The Beer:

The beer that sparks for me is Campfire Stout by High Water Brewery. It tasted like s’mores and reminded me of hanging around the fire camping with friends. It is a truly great stout for any time of year.

Tasting Notes:

This beer literally tastes like s’mores. There are hints of chocolate, toasted marshmallows, and even graham crackers.

Three Floyds Barrel Aged Behemoth

3 Floyds Barrel Aged Behemoth
3 Floyds

Kyle Warren, lead brewer at Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing Company in Framingham, Massachusetts

ABV: 13.6%

Average Price: $17.99 for a 22-ounce bottle

The Beer:

Three Floyds 2017 Woodford Reserve Barrel Aged Behemoth. This one sat in my dark, cool, cellar ever since I purchased it in Munster back in early 2017. I pulled it out for my good friend’s 40th birthday party this summer and was blown away by how well it held up. Amongst all the vintage beers we drank that weekend, this barleywine was a standout.

Tasting Notes:

The nose still had plenty of oak, vanilla, dark fruit, and brown spirit. The dark fruit on the nose followed right into the flavor, morphing into a rich toffee-filled malt bomb, boosted by an oaky, marshmallowy, nuttiness. An expected amount of sweetness was backed by a smooth medium body, balanced out with a fair amount of carbonation. The finish held the beer together providing some good IBU-charged bitterness that tamped down the sweetness and left the pallet ready for another sip.

Samuel Adams Utopias

Samuel Adams Utopias
Samuel Adams

Judy Neff, owner and brewer at Checkerspot Brewing Company in Baltimore

ABV: 28%

Average Price: $250 for a 24-ounce bottle

The Beer:

Sam Adams Utopias was the best beer I tried this year. It’s such a complex and rare sipping beer that drinks more like a cognac. I felt so lucky to even get to try it this year.

Tasting Notes:

This barely resembles a beer and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. More like a port or cognac, it carries flavors of dried cherries, raisins, caramel, vanilla, and warming toffee.


Posted

in

by

Tags:

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *