Editor's Choice

Russian River Pliny The Elder

It is arguably the most famous, sought after, talked about and otherwise storied brew of this proverbial craft beer renaissance.  Spanning a full decade this beer has won two bronze and three gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup, as well as, being voted the number one commercial beer in the world by the homebrewing publication Zymurgy for six years straight. That's right, I said six years straight. It is also credited with spawning the immense popularity of the double India pale ale—or imperial India pale ale—style.

Allagash Coolship Red (2014)

In 2008, Allagash Brewing Co. built one of the first commercial koelschip—or coolship, as it is known in America—in the country. In simple terms, a coolship is a large, shallow steel pan about a foot deep that is used to both cool down wort after it is brewed and to expose the resulting concoction to naturally occurring yeasts and bacteria that are in the air. This is a traditional method used in Belgium, and very few U.S. breweries have the expertise, time or money needed to work with one.

Upslope Imperial IPA

Upslope Brewing Company was founded in 2008 by Matt Cutter and Dany Pages in Boulder, Colo., with its first publicly released beer being a pale ale.A few years and a few beers later, they now offer five regular release beers year round, with some limited release beers sprinkled in when the season is right. Upslope’s beers are only released in cans, as the owners feel it fits their style of active and environmentally conscious individuals. One of those regular release cans that towers above the other 12-ounce plebeians, is the Imperial IPA that only comes in a 19.2 ounce royal pint can.

Dogfish Head Raison D’Extra (2014)

In 1998, Dogfish Head created a Belgian-style brown ale called Raison D'Etre, which translated from French means reason for being. The name is a play on words of sorts, as it is brewed with raisins, along with beet sugar and Belgian-style yeast. This heavier 8 percent ABV beer was brewed with the intention of pairing it with steak much like you would a red wine. Fast forward nine years and Dogfish Head decided to take the Raison D’Etre recipe and add in even more raisins, malts and brown sugar to create what Dogfish calls its “Raison D'Etre, with a little extra,” aptly named Raison D’Extra.

The Bruery Black Tuesdsay (2014)

In 2009, The Bruery started a yearly tradition that continues to this day: the release of Black Tuesday on the final Tuesday of October. The imperial stout usually comes in between 18 percent and 19 percent ABV— the 2014 version is 19.7 percent ABV—and is packaged in 750ml bottles after being aged in bourbon barrels for over a year. In fact, Black Tuesday proved to be so popular that The Bruery has released quite a few variations, including Grey Monday, Mocha Wednesday, Chocolate Rain and Rum Barrel Black Tuesday, which as the name implies, is aged in rum barrels instead of bourbon barrels.

Brasserie-Brouwerij Cantillon Fou’ Foune (2013)

Originally founded in Anderlecht, Brussels in 1900, Brasserie-Brouwerij Cantillon's first brewer was Paul Cantillon. The brewery has stayed in the same family since then, and the present owner and fourth generation brewer is Jean-Pierre van Roy. Cantillon brews lambic beers exclusively in the traditional style and even houses the Brussels Gueuze Museum onsite.

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Barleywine (2014)

The arrival of Goose Island’s annual Bourbon County series is one of the most anticipated and hyped beer releases of the year. For the last couple of years the lineup for the release has been the standard stout, a coffee version of the stout and a barleywine that all see pretty wide national distribution. There are also two much harder to get variants that change from year to year as well. This year’s stout variants were vanilla rye and Proprietor’s, which was a cinnamon chocolate stout this year. The beers are simultaneously released across the country on Black Friday. This massive release throws the beer nerd universe into temporary chaos with people waiting in line for hours to get their hands on the elusive bottles.