As we wrap up another delicious year in craft beer, let’s look back at beer geeks’ favorites from independent craft breweries. Here are the Top 20 highest member-rated brews featured by our favorite app-based bottle shop Tavour in 2021:
20. pFriem Family Brewers – Japanese Lager | Rated 4.30
Oregon’s premier brewers infused ingenuity with classic methods in this exemplary light style. Made with jasmine rice and using traditional Japanese brewing techniques, the beer pours with a lovely, frothy head. Perle, Saaz, and Celeia Hops flourish with elegantly floral flavors. A satisfying maltiness comes through on the forefront, complimented by the rice’s hint of plum and shiso on the backend. Every taste is exceptionally crisp and surprisingly complex.
19. Other Half Brewing Co. – Broccoli Special Reserve Imperial IPA | Rated 4.31
To craft this ultra-juicy hopbomb, the Other Half crew pummeled their full-bodied oat and wheat base with Citra, Mosaic, Simcoe, and Hallertau Blanc Hops. As fans say, the result is “the perfect crusher for a warm day.” Each sip floods the palate with orange and grapefruit upfront, before mellowing into ripe peach and whispers of succulent pineapple. Coniferous resin comes in on the finish to punctuate it all with nice hop bitterness.
18. Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. – Pseudo Sue American Pale Ale | Rated 4.31
Make no mistake, the hype around Pseudo Sue is very real. Fans love this hopped-up Pale Ale that drinks like a full-fledged Imperial IPA. If you’ve tasted Sue’s 100% Citra-hopped profile — overflowing with ridiculously tasty notes of mango, passionfruit, and drippy orange — you know this to be true.
17. Elder Pine Brewing & Blending – Leveler Amber Ale | Rated: 4.34
August Burns Red’s album Leveler is a persevering piece of metalcore mastery, and 2021 marks 10 years since its release! So, the crew at Elder Pine brewed this malty, hoppy Red Ale in honor of that anniversary. Leveler Red Ale is as big and bold as a breakdown at the outro — Simcoe and Columbus Hops headline citrusy flavors with piney and floral aromatics. A supporting cast of Golden Oats and Biscuit Rye add malty honey flavors that hold up the screaming guitar solo of nectarous hop juice.
16. Side Project Brewing – Dry Hopped Grisette | Rated 4.35
To craft their luxuriously hoppy Grisette, the brewers at Side Project started with an Ale fermented with wild yeasts, and aged it in a Missouri Oak Foeder for several months. Then, they gently dry-hopped the brew with New Zealand Pacifica and Slovenian Styrian Golding Hops before naturally conditioning it in the bottle. Each sip flows with bright farmhouse tang, lightly tart lemon, and soft pear accented by vibrant floral, zesty orange, and herbaceous spice notes introduced by the hops. An effervescent body and scintillating, dry finish make each taste that much more invigorating.
15. Adroit Theory Brewing – All That I Have Learned [Maple Whiskey Barrel Aged Stout] (Ghost 987) | Rated 4.39
This isn’t any ol’ dark brew. Adroit aged the entire batch in William Larue Weller barrels that previously stashed rich, thick, maple syrup. These are some of the best bourbon barrels on the market, and they lend light toffee and vanilla notes that compliment the chocolate, marshmallow, and coffee complexity already swirling in the base brew. Molasses and caramel come through from the decadent maple syrup.
14. Anchorage Brewing – Wake the Others Imperial IPA | Rated 4.41
Anchorage amped up this behemoth with an Alaska-sized helping of Citra, Galaxy, and Mosaic Hops. This TIPA practically packs triple the flavor: tangy orange, succulent mandarin, and tart grapefruit with drops of drippy mango and luscious pineapple. And it’s all wrapped in a dangerously drinkable 10% ABV body.
13. Great Notion Brewing – Double Berry Shake Fruited Sour | Rated 4.42
Overflowing with scrumptious fruit and creamy vanilla, the Fruited Sour style is where this rising Pacific Northwest powerhouse really dominates. Double Berry Shake is proof! The brewers “saturated” this sumptuous Fruited Sour with local, Oregon-grown marionberries for waves of jammy juice and rich earthiness. A mild tartness from the fruit rounds out every vivid, reddish-purple sip, punctuated with the vanilla’s lusciously sweet notes. Perhaps most remarkable of all – this brew sips silky and thick like a shake, but it contains no lactose!
12. Drekker Brewing Co. – Revenge of the Hippies Imperial NEIPA – Rated 4.45
This groovy batch of hopjuice comes loaded with Mosaic, Citra, Azacca, and — for the first time — Mosaic Spectrum hop extract for a flavor that’s way dank and mellow, man. The hop strains bring tropical fruit flavors like pineapple, mango, and tangerine, and the hop extract gives extra groovy, piney resin taste while keeping the body oh-so-smooth.
11. Prairie Artisan Ales – Bourbon Barrel Aged Weekend Imperial Stout – Rated 4.48
This boozy beauty tastes just like a melty, gooey, freshly-smooshed s’more, but with an extra decadent sprinkle of coconut and a drizzle of caramel. That’s because Prairie loaded it with creamy marshmallow, rich caramel, fudgy cacao nibs, and toasted coconut. Each gulp offers mellow warmth and a sweet vanilla finish, thanks to bourbon barrel aging — no campfire required.
10. Casey Brewing & Blending – Funky Blender Blackberry – Rated 4.50
To craft their Funky Blender beers, the brewers at Casey start with their complex wine barrel-aged Farmhouse base, and add massive amounts of locally-grown fruits. This berry brew comes packed with an astonishing 3 lbs of blackberries per gallon for waves of jammy nectar and a late addition of Cascade Hops for complex floral and citrus notes.
9. Cycle Brewing – Sunday (2021) Barrel Aged Barleywine | Rated 4.53
Cycle aged this exquisite Barleywine in bourbon barrels for 30 months, so each velvety sip sings with rich, whiskey-laced flavor. It opens with the scent of decadent bruléed sugar, then wraps the tongue in notes of chocolate covered strawberries. Waves of caramelized toffee and sumptuous, roasty malt swim throughout its silky body, culminating in a clean and satisfying finish.
8. Fremont Brewing – The Rusty Nail (2021) Barrel Aged Stout | Rated 4.54
Fremont’s dexterous brewers crafted this beast of a beverage with brewer’s licorice, smoked barley, and cassia cinnamon bark. After 15 months in 12-year-old bourbon barrels, every thick taste flourishes with luxurious layers of delicately-conjured complexity. Each sip swells on the palate with notes of dark cocoa and spice, atop a finely-tuned whiskey profile. The 2021 vintage clocks a massive 12.3% ABV, though rich aromas of molasses, cinnamon, and vanilla cloak it well.
The brewers at Georgia’s Pontoon got together with Colorado’s WeldWerks to make this tiki treat, using “an obscene amount” of black currants, tart cherries, pineapples, papayas, almonds, vanilla, and lactose. It’s thick as blended fruit, delightfully creamy, and wholly juicy — like a cocktail straight out of Polynesia!
6. Drekker Brewing Co. – Slang Du Jour Raspberry Cheesecake Fruited Sour | Rated 4.62
To create this opulent delight, the brewers say they “absolutely stuffed it with the finest real ingredients:” ripe raspberries, granola crust, velvety vanilla, real cream cheese, and a dash of silky lactose. With every decadently thick mouthful, you’ll experience how the smoothie-experts at Drekker conjure the flavors of an expertly baked cheesecake, topped with delicate ribbons of fresh raspberry sauce and plush whipped cream.
5. WeldWerks Brewing Co. – Blueberry Cobbler Berliner Weisse | Rated 4.64
Colorado’s WeldWerks brewed their Blueberry Cobbler with vanilla, graham crackers, milk sugar, and a whopping 1500 lbs of blueberry purée per batch. It’s no wonder this Berliner’s so bangin’. Each nectarous sip overflows with the juice of tart, earthy blueberries and crumbly cobbler crust, balanced by the creamy sweetness of vanilla — like a scoop of cobbler topped with homemade ice cream.
4. Fremont Brewing – Brew 5000 Barrel Aged Barleywine | Rated 4.67
This enviable English Barleywine was brewed to celebrate Fremont’s 5,000th batch of beer, so naturally, they pulled out all the stops. A blend of specialty malts creates deep flavors of brown sugar, candied date, and toffee. Notes of raisin and plum appear next, followed quickly by a warming flood of caramelly whiskey and oaky vanilla from a full 16 months in bourbon barrels!
3. Evil Twin Brewing NYC – To the Milky Way & Back II Imperial Milkshake IPA | Rated 4.69
With generous additions of real fruit on top of the tropical hop base, this silky lactose and vanilla-loaded galaxy is even more delectable than our wildest thoughts could conjure. Bright strawberry and softly tangy raspberry burst upfront, followed swiftly by juicy, jammy blackberry. Let it linger all together on the tongue, and it’s reminiscent of a whipped cream-topped berry tartlet!
#2. Jester King – SPON Red Shiso and Fuyu Persimmon (2020) American Wild Ale – Rated 4.70
SPON’s journey started with a commitment to time. For 2 whole years, the 100% spontaneously fermented base beer matured in wine barrels. Later, the Texas-based farmhouse brewery added in herbaceous, bright red shiso imported from Japan and silky, juicy Fuyu persimmons from right down the road at Lightsey Farms in Mexia, TX. The result? A beautiful blend of tart, tangy, natural flavors that combine with the tannic-like qualities from the barrels and flesh of the fruit.
1. Anchorage Brewing – A Deal With The Devil, Double Oaked Vanilla Bean Barrel Aged Barleywine | Rated 4.89
Head brewer Gabe Fletcher and his team aged this edition of ADWTD for 7 months in top-shelf Woodford Reserve Double Oaked barrels, then transferred it to Elijah Craig bourbon barrels for an additional 6 months. Finally, they finished it on Madagascar vanilla beans. The result is a sinfully smooth and silky elixir that tastes of caramel-drizzled crème brûlée with complex layers of oaky, bourbon toffee. A steady stream of vanilla sweetness keeps things glib and comforting, all while that blush-inducing ABV slowly creeps in.