We drank a lot of beer this year. Like, a lot-a lot. Much of it was made right here, either within the limits of New York City or just beyond them, and so we can now say without any hesitation that there is an astounding number of really, truly great beers being made all around us, and that it’s high time this place starts getting the credit it deserves as a premier beer town.
Below, a list of the best new beers we tried this year—we had to set some parameters, lest this become just another opportunity for us to carry endlessly on about Sorachi Ace. Be sure to check back next week when a bunch of prominent folks on the local beer scene will tell us their favorites of the year.
10. Third Rail Brewing Bodega Pale Ale
I was impressed by Third Rail’s other launch, Field 2 Farmhouse Ale, but I was really impressed by Bodega, a well-executed interpretation of the APA style (not the citation guidelines, silly!). It has a lively hop aroma without harsh bitterness on the mouth and a perfect presence of malt character (no sweetness). It’s also insanely gulpable. While a shit-ton of breweries attempted to craft a “session” IPA, which is somewhat similar to the APA, most tasted like hop-flavored water (Hopade?). I’d rather drink Bodega. Niko Krommydas (Find at Beer Menus)
9. Grimm Artisanal Ales Action Adventure
I’m not a smoked beer fan by any means. I’ll pass on the tobacco-porter, the retro Rauchbier, even the smoky spiced Saison, but Grimm’s Action/Adventure defies every rule my tastebuds have ever known. This 5% ABV smoky sour ale is Grimm’s take on an age-old German lichtenhainer, a refreshingly tart, complex yet sublimely drinkable all-day sipper. Like a thirst-quenching lemonade with a delicate hint of BBQ smoke, this one is all summer. Meredith Heil (Find at Beer Menus)
8. Finback Replicator
Replicator didn’t seem to get a whole lot of attention from the local craft community this year, but it was a home run nonetheless: a black rye IPA that clocks in at a reasonable 5.5% ABV and yet manages to bring a tremendous amount of flavor. There’s an initial blast of pine and citrus, plus substantial roastiness and a hint of spice from the rye malts. It’s like a sessionable version of Firestone Walker’s unimpeachable Wookey Jack, which is way boozier, way more expensive, and very difficult to find fresh. Mike Conklin (Find at Beer Menus)
7. Greenpoint Beer & Ale Tupelo Double IPA
Greenpoint Beer & Ale Tupelo Double IPA, served on draft at Greenpoint’s Dirck the Norseman brewpub, is a shining example of this beloved style. It pours a vibrant orange, with a nice balance between its soft melon and floral aroma, smooth piney bitterness and sweet, earthy finish that leaves you reaching for another sip. Brewed with a heaping dose of real Tupelo honey, this easy-drinking IPA is truly an angel in the first degree. MH (Find at Beer Menus)
6. Finback Brewing BQE Imperial Stout
I love any beer with a story, but since I was raised in Queens and now live in Brooklyn, when Finback crafted this between-borough stout using the specialties of Native Coffee Roasters (Queens) and Mast Brothers Chocolate (Brooklyn), I also felt personally connected. That’s a win-win. Though I’ve lost many years of my life idling on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, I would gladly sit in brain-atrophying traffic for a pour of BQE, which is noticeably sweeter than most examples of the style. I just got two bottles of the bourbon barrel-aged version, which was released last Sunday. NK (Find at Beer Menus)
5. Singlecut Beersmiths Kim Hibiscus Sour Lagrrr!
Between Finback and Singlecut, it was a banner year for brewing in Queens, and one of the biggest successes to come from our biggest borough is this pinkish Berliner Weiss made with hibiscus and black currants. Lightly sour, with a subtle sweetness to balance it out, you could drink it pretty much all day. MC (Find at Beer Menus)
4. Peekskill Brewing Yeah Jeets
As a diehard Mets fan, I was hesitant to sample Peekskill’s horrifically named India Pale Lager. Yet, once I let go of my allegiances, there was no turning back–this beer rules. This 7.2% ABV cold-fermented brew is dry-hopped to perfection, with a bright citrusy, grassy nose and just enough biscuity malt to warrant its lager classification. I love this beer almost as much as I hate the Yankees, which is saying a lot. MH (Find at Beer Menus)
3. Sixpoint Barrel-Aged Otis
In its most basic form, Otis is an extremely well made oatmeal stout, boasting a wonderfully creamy texture and lots of coffee, chocolate, caramel and, unexpectedly, even some bright, piney hops. After some time in a barrel, it’s all those things and so much more: vanilla comes into play, as does coconut and just a bit more sweetness in general, which is then balanced out by the just the right amount of alcohol burn. Can’t wait till this starts popping up again. MC (Find at Beer Menus)
2. Grimm Artisanal Ales Double Negative Imperial Stout
My love for Grimm’s Double Negative is as secret as my love for the stegosaurus, and I have a tattoo of the plate-backed, spike-tailed dinosaur on my left thigh (while Gretta Johnson’s labels depict lovely scenes, don’t ever expect a cloak-hooded monk to descend a staircase to any part of my lower anatomy). The first batch of this rich, roasty, and rambunctious stout won a silver medal at this year’s Great American Beer Festival. I have a bottle of the newest, which was just released, and I can’t wait to drink it. NK (Find at Beer Menus)
1. Other Half All Green Everything
Other Half knows hops, and their All Green Everything Imperial IPA is case and point. The word “juicy” doesn’t quite do it justice — it’s more like riding an enormous wave of fresh tropical fruit into a hazy golden shore of dank, palate-soaking bitterness. This bad boy knows no bounds and at 10.2% ABV, you soon won’t either. This is hop nation, pledge your allegiance. MH (Find at Beer Menus)