When we first started doing these lists, craft beer was very much in its infancy. The craftiest beer at most bars was Sam Adams Boston Lager. Times have changed. Today, there are more than 6,000 breweries in the United States, more than at any point in history, and the number continues to grow. Beer has become more localized. Many people have a brewery or ten within driving distance. Tap lists offer a cornucopia of hops. What does that mean for a list like this? Well, it means there’s no way we could taste even one percent of all the new beers that came out in 2018. That’s why we’ve decided to (mostly) focus on beers that hit shelves in at least a handful of states. These aren’t draft-only beers that disappeared after the five kegs were kicked. Here are the best new beers of 2018.

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Wheatwine

We were lucky to taste each of the Bourbon County variants this year and Wheatwine emerged the surprise hit. We expected to love Vanilla and Bramble, but Wheatwine put others to shame. It’s a beautiful representation of what a barrel imparts on a beer. You get rich notes of butterscotch and vanilla. The base isn’t a stout, so those roasted coffee notes aren’t present; all you’re left with is a delicious liquid barrel. If this is still sitting around on shelves near you, grab it. Link


Parish DDH Ghost in the Machine

Parish first kicked up the dry-hopping of Ghost in the Machine, their prized IPA, late last year, but it wasn’t until 2018 when most of the beer drinking public caught wind. At over 8 lbs of Citra hops per barrel, this double dry-hopped version packs notes of ripe and juicy oranges. Combine that with the substantial mouthfeel and it’s kinda like you’re drinking melted sherbet—sherbet that will get you drunk. Link


Sierra Nevada Resilience IPA

We’re not going to say Resilience IPA was the tastiest beer we had this year. We will say, however, it’s the most memorable and important. Why? After the devastation from the California fires this year, we saw the power of the beer community to come together and do good, and it was damn beautiful. Resilience IPA was first brewed by Sierra Nevada, a brewery that was threatened by the fires. Not only did they brew it, sell it, and donate all the sales to the Camp Fire Relief Fund, but—get this—over 1,000(!) other breweries followed suit. Link


Founders MF Donkey Stout

A taproom favorite, MF Donkey Stout (the “MF” stands for Mackinac Fudge, which is the coffee used in its creation) finally saw its way into bottles this year, which was fantastic news for anyone who doesn’t live near Grand Rapids, Michigan. Coffee is the name of the game here, as the beans used in the creation of MF Donkey Stout give it a roasted, bold profile with a lingering sweetness. Founders has long been a dependable brewery in our book, but we’ll admit they needed a new hit this year. They found it in a taproom classic. Link


Sixpoint Sparkler

One of the hottest trends of 2018 was the Brut IPA. For the uninitiated, a Brut IPA is a dry IPA that exists somewhere between beer and sparkling wine. One of the best examples of the style came from Brooklyn-based Sixpoint. Sparkler is brewed with Citra and Mosiac hops, so it has those comforts that will remind many beer drinkers of the juicy IPAs that dominated the last few years of beer talk, but the snappy, effervescent finish is a sensation very different from the trendy beers of 2017. It’s unique and delicious. Link


Lagunitas Super Cluster

Few breweries of similar size can do what Lagunitas does, and that is put out consistently superb beer despite brewing on a massive scale. This year, we saw further proof of that, with the release of Super Cluster, a Citra-hopped ale that clocks in at 8% ABV. Unlike many other Citra DIPAs, you  can find Super Cluster at your local liquor store. Sometimes price, quality, and ease of acquisition are enough to make a beer really stand out to us. Link


AleSmith Sap Ness Monster Speedway Stout

We’re on record as saying AleSmith’s Speedway Stout is one of our all-time favorite beers. Many variants have come out over the years and, for the most part, we’ve enjoyed them. The most recent, however, is our new fave. Sap Ness Monster Speedway Stout takes that Speedway Stout base and introduces maple syrup to the equation. But wait, that’s not all! The beer is also aged in Islay Scotch barrels to impart a bit of that peaty goodness. You’ll pick up smoke, vanilla, chocolate, coffee, and about five other scents we love. Link (IMG)


Creature Comforts Classic City Lager

I agree with just about every word in this article from Paste, as it extols the virtues of the latest craft beer trend: the shitty lager. As author Graham Averill points out on multiple occasions, the term “shitty lager” is meant as a compliment. It means a simple lager that brings you back to the days before dry hopping and barrel aging. It’s the article that made me track down some Creature Comforts Classic City Lager. Dammit if the article wasn’t spot on. The beer is affordable, tasty, and it delivers a dose of nostalgia. I’ve stood in many a line for beer in my day. I never really enjoyed the process or the price tag of the beers I waited for. As 2018 comes to a close, I find myself craving simple beer that’s easy to get and light on the wallet; I find myself craving a shitty lager. Link

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