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Ranking The Best Craft Beers To Drink This Labor Day Weekend

Craft beer has never been bigger. Even in the current climate, it remains fairly strong as many of us look for an escape from, well, everything. The craft beer industry has been around long enough now that there are true classics on the shelf that are fairly easy to find nationwide. But what is the best craft beer to drink if you’re looking to move away from the macro brands? That’s a tougher question to answer.

Craft beer is a very wide net to cast. There’s a lot going on from the classic West Coast IPAs from yesteryear to the tart sours of the 2020s. It really comes down to what you dig. But, we’d also argue that it’s worth expanding your knowledge and palate with new things. So, maybe the best beer for you is one you haven’t even tried yet.

To figure out the best craft beers that people like to drink, we popped over to Ranker. The masses spoke and voted and a top ten list of craft beers emerged. Interestingly, most of these beers are throwbacks to the halcyon days of microbrewing.

10. Pliny the Elder

Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8%
Brewery: Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa, CA

The Beer:

It doesn’t get much more classic than this West Coast IPA. The brew is hopped with a matrix of Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ, and Simcoe hops next to a fine malt. The result is the king of hoppy beers that’s surprisingly not higher on this list.

Tasting Notes:

Floral hops with a pine resin funk greet you. Notes of citrus cut through the resin dank as the florals support the light, bready malty underbelly. This is as dialed in as it gets.

9. A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’

Style: American IPA
ABV: 7.5%
Brewery: Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma, CA

The Beer:

This Californian standard is brewed with half malted barley and half malted wheat. The brew is then hopped with (takes a deep breath) Willamette, Santiam, Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, and Columbus hops. The addition of wheat gives the beer a velvety texture that edges it towards a hefeweizen while still sitting squarely in IPA territory.

Tasting Notes:

Hops, hops, hops. There’s a grassy nature with plenty of that West Coast pine resin dankness. The sip then veers into sunny California beaches with a nice and subtle citrus nature with pleasant florals. The beer ends dry and full of that resinous dank.

8. Grapefruit Sculpin IPA

Style: American IPA
ABV: 7%
Brewery: Ballast Point Brewing Company, San Diego, CA

The Beer:

This beer was a revelation when it dropped back in the day. The addition of actual grapefruit to an already fruity hopped beer added depth and accessibility to the often overwrought style.

Tasting Notes:

This is a fruit bomb in a bottle with tropical fruits, peaches, and citrus present throughout. The grapefruit is ever-present with a very distinct hint of saline. The beer ends with a rush of all that fruit, making it one of the most thirst-quenching beers on this list.

7. Boston Lager

Style: Vienna Lager
ABV: 5%
Brewery: Boston Beer Company, Jamaica Plain, MA

The Beer:

This is (kind of) the original craft beer. The brew is a simple blend of water, German hops, American barley, and Samuel Adam’s own lager yeast. The rest, as they say, is history.

Tasting Notes:

The ultimate airport beer opens with a clear hit of caramel malts next to grassy hops. The hops are an accent to the underlying maltiness and balance well. The end of the sip is dry and short but always draws you back for more.

6. Goose IPA

Style: English IPA
ABV: 5.9%
Brewery: Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, IL

The Beer:

This Chicago IPA was brewed with the origins of IPA in mind. Back in the day, the English used to overly hop their ales for transport to, you guessed it, India. The India Pale Ale was born. The difference with the modern version, however, is that there’s very little time between brewing and quaffing IPAs, so the hoppiness has no time to fade as it would back in the days of old.

Tasting Notes:

Earthy and resinous hops mingle with big notes of tropical fruits that lean more sweet than fresh. Those big notes of citrus fruits lead the way as the bready malts remain buried under the hoppiness. A note of bitterness arrives late on the refreshing and dry finish.

5. Arrogant Bastard Ale

Style: American Strong Ale
ABV: 7.2%
Brewery: Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA

The Beer:

The Arrogant Consortia, an offshoot of Stone Brewing, has been brewing this bombastic ale since the late 1990s. It’s well-hopped and helped define the San Diego craft beer scene.

Tasting Notes:

You can almost smell the pine dank before you crack one of these open and that’s the point. There’s a toffee-esque sweetness to the malts that just balances all the dank, bitterness, and citrus of this West Coast classic.

4. Sierra Nevada Stout

Style: American Stout
ABV: 5.8%
Brewery: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA

The Beer:

It’s great to see Sierra Nevada’s Stout on this list and in the top five. This was the first beer they brewed all the way back in 1980. It’s one of the better stouts you can find in the U.S. to this day, making it the progenitor of decades of imitation.

Tasting Notes:

Roasted and bitter malts greet you with a sense of damn-near burnt espresso beans. The bitterness barely wanes as the hints of black licorice mingle with cacao nibs and velvety maltiness. The brew ends with a lingering sense of a full-bodied beer with serious depth (and milky chocolate).

3. Stone IPA

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Style: American IPA
ABV: 6.9%
Brewery: Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA

The Beer:

This San Diego IPA is part of the reason IPAs are still brewed by pretty much every craft brewer, homebrewer, and macro brewer these days. Though there were plenty of other IPAs already hopping up the microbrewing scene for years before this one dropped in 1997, it definitely harkened in a new phase of craft brewing to the country. It’s also a solid example of the style that’s, thankfully, not overdone.

Tasting Notes:

This is the West Coast in a can. There’s a nice mix of pine dank next to sweet citrus juices. The juice leans more orange than anything else as the malts peek in with an almost sourdough crustiness. The bitterness from the hops is unavoidable through the juicy end of this beer.

2. Lagunitas IPA

Style: American IPA
ABV: 6.2%
Brewery: Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma, CA

The Beer:

This is another great example of the ol’ West Coast IPA that helped bring the style to worldwide domination. This brew is crafted to balance loads of hops with a clean maltiness, making this a very crushable brew to have stocked in your fridge.

Tasting Notes:

The woodiness of the hops leans away from pine and into cedar territory with a citrus counterpoint. That citrus is more bitter grapefruit pith as the fruitiness gets a little peachy. The malts hold onto a caramelized sweetness with a bready edge that’s very under the radar. The sip ends with all that resin and fruit as the star of the show.

1. 90 Minute IPA

Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 9%
Brewery: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE

The Beer:

And then there’s Dogfish Head, another powerhouse of the 90’s craft beer evolution. This beer is named after the fact that it’s hopped for 90 straight minutes, adding some serious hoppiness to the malty foundation.

Tasting Notes:

Pine, orange rind, and malty bread mingle on the nose. Toffee sweetness creates a base on which florals flourish and mix with bright citrus and grassy dankness. The sip ends briskly with plenty of juice, resin, and subtle sweetness.

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