If you’re a beer lover, beer isn’t just a beverage; it’s a way of life. And whereas names like Heady Topper, Pliny the Younger, Dinner, and CBS might be meaningless if you’re not initiated, for those in the know, they’re sought-after brews that are as worthy of a special occasion as a fine wine.
It wasn’t too long ago that if you wanted a beer, your options were limited to the mass-produced classics like Bud or Coors and perhaps a handful of imports. But over the past couple decades, craft brewing has exploded the world over, with 716 craft breweries opening just in the U.S. in 2020 alone, according to the Brewers Association. (Speaking of mass-produced, these are America’s top-selling beer brands).
What these breweries are able to do with the raw materials of malt, hops, yeast, water, and often some imaginative added flavorings, is nothing short of astonishing. From super-hoppy double IPAs to jet-black imperial stouts to English-style barleywines to saison farmhouse ales, the variety of high-quality American beers just keeps getting better and better. (You’ll find plenty of examples among America’s 40 most delicious beers).
To compile a list of the top-rated beer from every state and the District of Columbia, 24/7 Tempo reviewed “Top 250 Rated Beers” on BeerAdvocate, as judged by its readers. The site asks reviewers to score beers on a scale of 1.00 to 5.00 in 0.25-point increments on five ratable attributes: appearance, aroma, taste, mouthfeel, and overall impressions. The site then calculates ratings by weighting attributes differently (most important is taste, weighted at 40%). The weighting accounts for the fact that in the ranking here, the highest placed beers don’t necessarily have the highest reader scores. Scores are current as of mid-April 2022.
Information on beer type and alcohol by volume – ABV – also came from BeerAdvocate. Information on international bitterness units, a gauge of beer’s bitterness, came from Untappd, a beer rating app. IBU is a measure of the parts per million of isohumulone found in a beer, represented on a scale from 1 to 100, with 100 being the bitterest.
You’ll notice that there are a whole lot of stouts and IPAs on this list, reflective of the super-popularity of these beers and the high potential for experimentation by the brewer that’s inherent in the styles. If those styles don’t strike your fancy, then you’ll be happy to learn that the vast majority of these breweries also brew beers in a wide variety of other styles for you to try, and most also have tasting rooms that are open to the public. Road trip, anyone?