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Bartenders Tell Us The One American Craft Beer They Love Best

Over the past decade and a half, craft brewing has exploded in the US. Currently, there are well over 7,000 breweries in the country and they all need as much support as they can get during the ongoing pandemic. But while we believe that you should patronize as many breweries in your region as possible, you’re bound to have your favorite spots among them and, even more specifically, your favorite beers.

With the spirits and craft beer industry award seasons winding down, we enlisted the help of some of our favorite bartenders and asked for the one craft beer they reach for above all the rest. Check out their answers below.

Stone Xocoveza

Fanny Chu, head bartender at Donna in Brooklyn, New York

Stone Xocoveza. For me, it’s the perfect stout because of its incredible flavor profile which is Mexican hot chocolate, notes of coffee, pasilla peppers, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and loads of chocolate. Perfect for the upcoming season and holidays.

Plus, you can make an incredible flip cocktail with it.

Country Boy Shotgun Wedding

Dante Wheat, bartender and founder of Raw Pineapples in Lousiville, Kentucky

Country Boy Shotgun Wedding. Country Boy’s inclusion of vanilla bean gives them something exceptional in the sea of monotony that brown ales can be. This small infusion adds layers of complexity that extend past malt.

I rarely drink beer anymore, but if I do, it’s typically this one.

Maine Peeper Pale Ale

Randall Restiano, beverage director of Eataly NYC Flatiron in New York City

Maine Beer Company’s Pale Ale — or, honestly, any of their brews. MO, Peeper, Lunch, they are just everything I want in a great beer. If I had to just choose one, it would be the Peeper Pale Ale. Balanced hops, fresh, crisp, citrus notes, and that final flavor of just the slightest hint of brioche.

You can always find one of these beers at our rooftop restaurant on tap or by the bottle all year long.

Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale

Andy Printy, beverage director at Chao Baan in St. Louis

Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale has always been a personal favorite. Even within their releases that seem “conventional” they are always just left of center on delivery. This is the one beer I’d drink if you could only drink one.

Ladyface LA Blonde

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Gavin Humes, bartender at Scratch|Bar & Kitchen in Los Angeles

Ladyface Brewery out of Agoura Hills makes this LA Blonde that’s really nice. It’s light, refreshing, but still complex enough to be interesting. That’s definitely my go-to on a hot summer day, but it works almost as well when it starts to cool off in the fall.

Plus, I’m in LA, so it doesn’t really cool off that much anyway.

Metropolitan Magnetron

Hayden Miller, head bartender at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami

Metropolitan Magnetron. The schwarzbier is one of my favorite styles and this is a fantastic chocolatey pouring craft brew. Smoky, rich, and perfect at any time. Especially the fall.

Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA

Nick Cole, bartender at Kimpton Sawyer Hotel in Sacramento

The best American craft beer would have to be the Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA. The floral refresher is always a go-to on a nice day. It’s not too hoppy and is refreshingly juicy every single time.

Ommegang Rare Vos

Roberto Berdecia, bartender at La Factoria in San Juan, Puerto Rico

If I have to choose from the states, I will pick Ommegang Rare Vos (Amber Ale). This beer is very smooth, slightly fruity/hoppy with some spices and sweetness.

Victory Golden Monkey

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Victory.

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Nestor Marchand, director of food and beverage at Plunge Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

I could drink Victory Golden Monkey every day. It has a great mouthful of spices and the softness of a blonde beer even though it’s a 9.5 percent Belgian-style tripel ale. It’s spicy, smooth, and perfect for cool fall weather.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Eli Gay, taproom manager at NOLA Brewing in New Orleans

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. More contemporary American pale ales and IPAs all descend from this classic beer. In the early aughts, these styles started to pile on the bittering hops with reckless abandon, losing their malt balance. More recently, bitter hops have fallen out of favor, leaving these traditionally bitter beers more sweet and aromatic. For me, the original American Pale Ale remains king, with an exemplary balance between bracing bitterness, intense aromatics, and toasted caramel malt sweetness.

Writer’s Pick:

Cigar City Jai Alai

This is an impossible question. But if it needs to be answered, one beer immediately comes to mind: Cigar City Jai Alai. This subtly bitter, citrus-filled, juicy IPA is perfect for any time of the year. There’s no wrong time to enjoy a pint of Jai Alai.

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