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We Asked Bartenders For Beers That Hit The Perfect Hop-To-Malt Ratio

Brewing beer is a tricky science. The most subtle of changes to a recipe and your end product could be an awful tasting waste of time. Too many hops here or too many malts there and your beer won’t strike the balance you want. Of course, some brewers skew these ratios on purpose — creating overly hoppy bitter beasts or roasted malt bombs — but we’re not here to talk about triple IPAs or dessert beers today.

Today, we’re all about balance. A harmony of hops and malts. To help us out, we turned to the experts for advice — asking 12 well-known bartenders to name the beers that land in the hop-to-malt sweet spot. Check their picks below.

Bell’s Two Hearted Ale

Bell

Dennis Shea, beverage director at Fish & Fire Food Group in Washington, DC

The first beer that comes to mind is Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. Its 100% Centennial hops offer grapefruit and pine aromas. It’s perfectly balanced with a strong malty backbone.

Average Price: $8.49 for a six-pack

4 Hands City Wide Pale

4 Hands

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

City Wide Pale from 4 Hands Brewery in St. Louis is one of the more perfect beers I’ve had. Toasty, malty, and rich on the front, with the perfect amount of dry hoppy-ness to finish. Pairs perfectly with a grilled pork steak or toasted ravioli.

Average Price: $8.49 for a 4-pack

Samuel Smith Organic Lager

Samuel Smith

Michael Norat, bartender in Puerto Rico

Samuel Smith’s Organic Lager is my pick. I love the citrus notes with the spices and malt flavors. It has a great mix of hops and malts. Plus, it’s organic so that makes it even better.

Average Price: $9.99 for a 4-pack

Yuengling Lager

Yuengling

Bianca Swilley, bartender at JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa in Orlando

Yuengling is America’s oldest running brewery, and a special treat to most, since it is not available in the majority of the states. When you’re visiting the east coast, I recommend grabbing a refreshing Yuengling and drink up some American history.

It has rich, sweet flavors and a great hop-to-malt balance.

Average Price: $11.99 for a 12-pack

Saranac Pale Ale

Saranac

Becca Pesce, bartender at Team Cocktail Guru in New York City

Saranac Pale Ale hits that perfect balance of malt and hop. The citrusy grapefruit and orange notes are beautifully balanced with the malty caramel sweetness to make an incredibly easy drinking and delightful beer.

Average Price: $8.99 for a six-pack

Wicked Weed Pernicious IPA

Wicked Weed

Andres Rairan, lead bartender at High Tide Beach Bar & Grill in Miami

My favorite malt-to-hop balance beer would have to be Pernicious from Wicked Weed Brewing. The fruity aroma of the beer mixed in with the incredible hoppiness followed by the great subtle finish makes this one of my favorite beers in the last couple of years. The balance for me is almost perfect, because the beer is bitter with grapefruit notes in it but it also goes down so smooth, with the sweet, malty flavors.

Average Price: $9.99 for a 4-pack

Cigar City Guayabera

cigar City

Nikole Calvo, bar manager at SIX in Tampa, Florida

The best beer brand that hits the malt and hops the best is the Cigar City Guayabera Citrus Pale Ale. It’s extremely citrus-forward with notes of tangerine, lime, and berries and contributes to a unique and extremely crisp beer.

It’s also an easy beer to drink for novice beer drinkers.

Average Price: $10.99 for a six-pack

Great Divide Yeti

Great Divide

Becky Rose, lead bartender at Queen’s Eleven in Denver

Great Divide’s Yeti Imperial Stout is the perfect example of malt to hop balance. It boasts a huge 75 IBU score, which is comparable to most IPA’s, but that bright and bitter finish is needed to round out the extremely heavy malt start and sweet caramel and toffee middle. It’s a big dark beer that hits every section of your taste buds, making it great to drink alone or with rich, fat-heavy foods— cheese or cream-based pasta, a big ribeye, etc.

Average Price: $13.99 for a six-pack

Tampa Bay Brewing Reef Donkey

Tampa Bay Brewing

Ryan Cunningham, bartender at Anchor and Brine in Tampa, Florida

I have to shout out a local brewery and one of my favorite places to eat in Tampa, Tampa Bay Brewing Company, for this one. Their American Pale Ale (APA) is a perfectly balanced beer driving flavor and drinkability. The malts cut back the bitterness while adding depth and the hops stay strong with light citrus notes that make it perfect for Florida weather.

Average Price: $8.99 for a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans

Boddington’s Pub Ale

Boddington

Jeff Rogers, bar director for Jester Concepts in Minneapolis

Boddington’s Pub Ale has always been my favorite for the perfect balance of all the classic beer ingredients. Sweet, crisp, bitter, and creamy all in the same pint. Bliss.

Average Price: $6.99 for a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans

Stone Ripper Pale Ale

Stone

Jeremy Williams, mixologist at MDRD at the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids, Michigan

I feel that a Pale Ale is an under-rated style and a true test of a brewer. For this style, the hop character has to be detectable without overshadowing the malt, and vice versa. Stone in San Diego does a great pale ale.

Sierra Nevada is also a classic favorite.

Average Price: $10.49 for a six-pack

Ipswich Celia

Ipswich

Siobhán Cusumano, bartender at Buya Ramen in St. Petersburg, Florida

As someone with a gluten allergy, this is a tough one. I would have to say that Celia from Ipswich Brewing has the best-balanced beer on the market. It is a Saison that even my biggest beer snob friends have been impressed with, and that was before I told them it was gluten-free.

Average Price: $9.49 for a 4-pack

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