There isn’t a single “best of” list that’s truly universal, but it doesn’t hurt to look at what members of the American Homebrewer’s Association (AHA) suggest the next time you’re on the lookout for a new beer to try. There are over 8,000 breweries in America and countless more brands, types, and flavors of beer available on the market. The best beers of 2020 according to America have beaten out the competition, solidifying themselves as the best-of-the-best. The next time you have the opportunity to try one of the beers on this list, go for it! The AHA provides homebrew recipes for most of the beers listed below, so instead of picking them up in-store or online, consider making your own clone beer from the comfort of home.
Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
At Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan, you’ll find a generous supply of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. They brew this IPA with 100% Centennial hops harvested from the Pacific Northwest and named after the Two Hearted River in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Due to massive hop additions in both the kettle and fermenter, this beer has a pleasant array of hop aromas ranging from pine to grapefruit. It’s balanced with a malt backbone and combined with Bell’s house yeast, which has a signature fruity aroma. According to Bell’s Brewery, it’s a beer that will perfectly suit any adventurer.
Russian River Pliny the Elder
You can find Pliny the Elder and its hopped-up counterpart, Pliny the Younger, at Russian River’s Windsor and Santa Rosa breweries. They brew Pliny the Elder with Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ, and Simcoe hops. The beer is a well-balanced blend of malt, hops, and alcohol, with a slightly bitter taste and a hop aroma of float, citrus, and pine. It’s best when it’s fresh, which is why Russian River prints the actual bottling date on each bottle and makes the beer in such a limited supply. The story behind the name is part of what makes this beer so great. The name comes from a man named Pliny who lived in the first century—23 to 79 A.D. He created the botanical name for lupus salictarius, known today as humulus lupulus, or hops. His story was immortalized by his nephew, Pliny the Younger, who wrote about his uncle succumbing to ash and smoke during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. He was rescuing other people and helping them escape when he met his tragic but heroic fate.
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
If you had to describe Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale in a single word, it would be classic. It took Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi, the founders of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, California, almost a dozen tries to perfect the recipe for Pale Ale. They wanted to create their own style of beer—one that was unique and distinctive—and, considering the beer’s overwhelmingly positive reception, one can argue that they succeeded. The beer comes from two-row pale, caramelized malts; Cascade hops; and ale yeast. It’s a bitter-tasting drink infused with the intense aromas of citrus and pine. Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale was one of the pioneering beers behind the American craft brew revolution, which led to a new era of delicious, innovative craft beers.
The Alchemist Heady Topper
At The Alchemist brewery in Waterbury, Vermont, you’ll find Heady Topper, one of their famous Double India Pale Ales. Heady Topper was quick to gain a reputation throughout New England, and before long, word of the Pale Ale had spread both nationally and internationally. They brewed it in such small quantities—and it was so in-demand—that they couldn’t even get it out of the brewery, let alone the country. Buyers would queue around the brewery fence, and by lunch, all the fresh beer would be gone. The beer has notes of orange, tropical fruit, pink grapefruit, pine, and spice, and it possesses a pleasant, hoppy aroma. It isn’t extremely bitter, which makes it a hit among people who prefer their drinks sweeter, milder, and fruity.
Another great drink from Bell’s Brewery, Hopslam lives up to its name. The brewing process starts out with six different hop varieties and ends with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops. The Pacific Northwest varieties they use are known for their pungent grapefruit, stone fruit, and floral notes. A generous malt bill and a dollop of honey complete this incredible rendition of the Double Indian Pale Ale style.
3 Floyds Zombie Dust
A perfect brew for the zombie apocalypse—or maybe just for watching post-apocalyptic shows and movies on TV—3 Floyds’ Zombie Dust is one of 2020’s best beers. It’s sweet, hoppy, and has notes of pine, spice, and citrus. If you’re looking for something bitter but not too bitter, why not give it a shot?
Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale
Another one of the best beers of 2020 according to America is Boulevard’s Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale. Boulevard’s Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale resulted from a group of brewers experimenting with variations on a traditional Belgian-style farmhouse ale. Eventually, they managed to brew the perfect combination of elements. In honor of fermenter number seven, where all the magic took place, they decided to name their new brew Tank 7. The beer has a fruity aroma. It starts off with notes of grapefruit and hops and ends with a dry, peppery finish.
Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
Sometimes, breweries will hit the jackpot after a brilliant but risky attempt at innovation. Founder’s Brewery decided to let some of their beer sit in barrels for over a year, and much to their relief, the risk paid off. Their Kentucky Breakfast Stout teaches us all that patience is a virtue and a vital ingredient for great-tasting beer. The beer is brewed with a massive amount of coffee and chocolate, then bourbon barrel-aged to perfection. It’s silky, full-bodied, and has notes of vanilla, cocoa, roasted coffee, and charred oak.
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