One of the most exciting things about there being a seemingly limitless number of beers on the market (9,000 plus breweries tend to do that) is the fact that there are so many underrated beers just waiting to be discovered (or given their due). From lagers to pale ales to stouts and everything in between, there’s a whole world of underrated and undervalued beers.
But the idea of something being underrated is… very complex. Especially when it comes to beer. You might have a favorite beer that you believe is highly underrated and doesn’t get the respect it deserves while another drinker might think its rated properly or (gasp) is even overrated. Also, just because a beer is popular, that doesn’t mean it can’t still be underrated. Even if it’s popular, it might be so great it deserves even more praise.
That being said, while the concept of a beer being underrated is slightly subjective, there’s a good chance if someone tells you that a beer is underrated, it’s at least worth a taste. So the conversation still intrigues us. Fal Allen, brew master at Anderson Valley Brewing Co. in Boonville, California points out how hard it is to dub something “underrated.”
“The most underrated beer of all time is a really hard one to call,” he says. “It has to be something delicious enough that some people continue to buy it and that the brewery still makes, but not an IPA — because I think most of those are overrated — or some other ubiquitous style.”
To find these underrated gems, we went to the source for help. We asked a handful of well-known craft beer experts and brewers to tell us about their picks for the most underrated beers today (some did, in fact, include IPAs). Keep scrolling to see all of their selections.
Long Trail Double Bag
Andrew Hueston, USBG bartender at El Vez in Philadelphia
Average Price: $11 for a six-pack
Long Trail Brewing Double Bag, this is a malty double amber ale (hence the name) that’s sometimes hard to find. This beer practically drinks itself even at 7.2% ABV. It’s been available for decades, but still manages to fly under the radar.
This rich, complex brew is filled with notes of caramel, roasted malts, and chocolate but still manages to be surprisingly easy to drink.
Progression Connect The Dots IPA
Suzanne Schalow, CEO of Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont, Massachusetts
Average Price: $16 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans
Progression Connect The Dots IPA is a gorgeous, underrated beer to look at. A light, bright yellow color, hazy, of course, and with a stark, pillowy, white head. Donned with the typical creamy malt character made possible by the malted wheat and oat additions.
This one is bountiful with tropical fruits, especially pineapple and papaya in the aroma, backed by some tangerine and grapefruit citrus, before trailing into a whiff of distant pine. The flavors match the tropical and citrus aroma while the bitterness is low enough for those who ‘don’t like IPAs.’ She’s a true gem and most people have never heard of Progression Brewing or Northampton, Massachusetts.
Great Lakes Eliot Ness
Joe Straitiff, brewing manager at Half Acre Brewing in Chicago
Average Price: $11 for a six-pack
Great Lakes Eliot Ness has been available for years, but still manages to be extremely underrated. The first beer brewed by one of the country’s craft pioneers, standing strong more than thirty years later. The label of ‘amber lager’ doesn’t seem to be used very often. Similar beers are often labeled as something regional, like ‘Vienna’ or ‘Boston,’ or sometimes just lager. Ness is indeed quite amber, though, and this sets it apart from the rest.
Caramel malts drive the color and provide rich, hearty bread notes. The hops are very present, somewhat surprisingly so, and provide a noble-like crispness. All this wrapped in a super clean lager fermentation. Simple and balanced. If someone asked me what beer tastes like, this would be my answer.
Barley Brown’s ESB
Ryan Schmiege, brew master at Cascade Lakes Brewing Company in Redmond, Oregon
Average Price: Limited Availability
Barley Brown’s ESB is highly underrated because most of the world doesn’t know Barley Brown’s and therefore isn’t ‘rating’ them. Also, because the ESB has, so sadly, fallen out of favor with most consumers.
The beer is nutty, caramelly, and fruity in flavor with nice floral and citrus hop hits to the nose. It drinks.
Nico Freccia, co-founder at COO at 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco
Average Price: $7 for a 375ml bottle
Saison DuPont, hands down, is the best beer in the world. A classic example of the Belgian farmhouse style. You might not think that’s underrated, but it really is. It should be in every fridge in America. It’s that good.
It is light, hoppy, spicy, pairs perfectly with seafood and cheeses and is utterly delicious.
Aecht Schlenkerla Helles Lager
Jared Williamson, lead brewer at Schlafly Brewing in St. Louis
Average Price: $5 for a 500ml bottle
Aecht Schlenkerla Helles Lager is an underrated pick. It’s a classic Bavarian lager with a subtle smokiness. There’s no smoked malt in this beer but it gets that character from the lager yeast that is harvested from another smoked malt beer.
It’s light like a Helles, and just enough smokiness to make it interesting but not over the top, as so often happens with smoked beers.
Anchor Steam Beer
George Hummel, grain master of My Local Brew Works in Philadelphia
Average Price: $10 for a six-pack
With the closure of Anchor Brewing, Anchor Steam Beer became the beer that was jilted at the craft brew dance, by the folks that brought it there. A victim of equal parts indifferent craft brewery take over and modern jaded craft brew taste buds.
The throwback style from the gold rush days always struck me as a mash-up between a British pale ale and a German Oktoberfest marzen. Fruity, hoppy, yet malty and crisp. It will be missed. Grab some while you still can.
Independence Native Texan
Bryan Donaldson, brewing innovation manager at Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, California
Average Price: $9 for a six-pack
This one might get my craft cred revoked, but I think pretty much every premium American Lager is underrated. I am not saying I want to go out and drink these beers all the time, but the skill and know-how that go into making clean beer with such little flavor is absolutely amazing to me. That being said, a beer like Native Texan from Independence Brewing in Austin can take that to a whole new level of crisp, clean deliciousness.
This classic German-style pilsner is known for its palate of cereal grains, citrus, honey, and grassy, floral hops. It’s crisp, dry, and very refreshing.
North Coast Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse
Fal Allen, brew master at Anderson Valley Brewing Co. in Boonville, California
Average Price: $12 for a four-pack
After some pondering, I believe that North Coast Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse would be my pick for the most underrated beer. It is a fabulous beer that has never gotten its due.
It is a ballet of delicate sourness infused with a dash of cherry tartness, flying through a pasture of ripe wheat. All at an ABV of only 4.1%, and with near zero IBUs. And it is a style few breweries make today.
Hop Butcher Gottaguy IPA
Garth Beyer, certified Cicerone and owner of Garth’s Brew Bar in Madison, Wisconsin
Average Price: $17 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans
Hop Butcher’s Gottaguy IPA is a beer that everyone should be grabbing from the shelf when they see it, or they ought to make the trip to the brewery.
It’s a mild-bodied beer but there’s nothing mild about the flavors of passionfruit, peach, grapefruit, and fresh-crushed gooseberries. It’s basically the starburst of beer.