The best beers of 2012

Esquire

View gallery

.
Flying Dog El Dorado

Esquire.com’s beer correspondent chooses the most exciting new releases of the year.

Plus: a few trends to talk about at the bar, from 007 ditching the martini to the social acceptance of beer that kind of tastes like lemonade.

The Hoppy Beers...

Flying Dog El Dorado

Flying Dog showcases specific varieties of hops in its Single Hop beers. The latest in the series is El Dorado, a massive imperial IPA with 10 percent ABV that's brewed with the new and hard-to-get El Dorado hops.

One-time release. Available in May in DC, MD, VA.

More from Esquire:

The Top 100 Shows on TV

75 Things To Do Before You Die

View gallery

.
Golden Road Point the Way

Golden Road Point the Way

A new beer from a new brewery, Point the Way IPA has been a top seller since Golden Road Brewing opened late last year in Los Angeles. Golden Road debuted this balanced, floral brew in 16-ounce cans in January.

Year-round. Available now in CA.

View gallery

.
Harpoon Rich & Dan's Rye IPA

Harpoon Rich & Dan's Rye IPA

Harpoon's first new full-time release in more than two years, Rich & Dan's Rye IPA is named after brewery founders Rich Doyle and Dan Kenary. The use of rye malts lends a spicy complexity and a rich copper hue to the brew.

Year-round. Available now in AL, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WV.

View gallery

.
Westbrook Brewing Covert Hops

Westbrook Brewing Covert Hops

This black ale from South Carolina's young Westbrook Brewing Co. is made with more than four pounds of hops per barrel for an earthy, piney kick.

Seasonal release. Available now through May in SC.

View gallery

.
He'Brew Hop Manna

He'Brew Hop Manna

Six varieties of hops, including the citrusy and "C"-loaded — Cascade, Centennial and Citra — give Shmaltz Brewing Co.'s new year-round IPA a punchy, piney aroma and bitter, grapefruit-rind bite.

Year-round. Available now in AL, AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, WA, WI.

View gallery

.
Green Flash Palate Wrecker

Green Flash Palate Wrecker

Available now for the first time in 12- and 22-ounce bottles nationwide, this "triple" IPA from San Diego's Green Flash Brewing Co. is a rollercoaster of floral and biscuit-y aromas, followed by a wallop of piney hops.

Spring seasonal. Available now in AL, AK, AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, IL, IA, KS, KY, MA, ME, MD, MO, NC, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA.

View gallery

.
Sixpoint Resin

Sixpoint Resin

A massively hopped double IPA from Brooklyn's Sixpoint Brewery, Resin is a hophead's dream come true. The beer's bright, grassy aromas and hop-resin flavors are like a punch in the face. A good one. And at 9.1 percent alcohol by volume, it's a kick in the ass, too.

Year-round. Available now in DC, IN, MA, MD, NH, NY, NJ, PA, RI, VA, VT, WI.

View gallery

.
Shock Top Lemon Shandy

The Best Use of Beer Lemonade

This may go down as the Year of the Shandy. Europeans have long known about the lip-smacking refreshment of shandies — beer mixed with sparkling lemonade, grapefruit juice, or other citrus sodas. Americans will have plenty of opportunities to play catch-up this summer. Anheuser-Busch InBev has two new releases out in time for the summer heat: Shock Top Lemon Shandy, which I've been enjoying, and Michelob Ultra 19th Hole Light Tea & Lemonade, which you probably shouldn't try to say more than once in a row. They'll jockey for shelf space alongside the ever-popular Leinenkugel Summer Shandy and the new Coors Light Iced T, which is being test-marketed in Canada.

View gallery

.
Stone/Iron Fist Pillow Mint at the Ritz

The Funky Beers...

Odell Shenanigans

Colorado's Odell Brewing spiked the oak-aged Shenanigans with a yeast strain called Brettanomyces, which imparts a slightly tart flavor in this crimson-hued ale.

One-time release. Available now in AZ, CO, ID, KS, MN, MO, NE, NM, SD, WY.

View gallery

.
Stone/Iron Fist Pillow Mint at the Ritz

The Funky Beers...

Stone/Iron Fist Pillow Mint at the Ritz

Homebrewer Ken Schmidt won Stone Brewing Co.'s March Madness homebrew competition this year for the second time in a row. In June, Stone will unveil a full-size batch of his Pillow Mint at the Ritz, an imperial chocolate stout, with help from California's Iron Fist Brewing Co.

One-time release. Available in June in AK, AZ, CA, CT, CO, DC, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, KY, LA, ME, MD, MI, MO, MT, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA, WI.

View gallery

.
Cigar City Cucumber Saison

Cigar City Cucumber Saison

Cigar City in Tampa is preparing to bottle its Cucumber Saison for the first time. This easy-sipping, 5-percent-ABV golden ale has the added perk of fresh cucumber, which complements its orangey Citra and lemony Sorachi Ace hops.

Seasonal, unknown release date. Will be available in FL, GA, AL.

View gallery

.
Highland Razor Wit

Highland Razor Wit

Belgian-style witbiers are traditionally spiced with coriander and orange peel. North Carolina's Highland Brewing Co. takes it one more step with additions of ginger and cumin.

Seasonal release. Available May through August in AL, FL, GA, NC, SC, TN, VA.

View gallery

.
Sun King/Oskar Blues Chaka

Sun King/Oskar Blues Chaka

Two pioneers of the craft-beer-in-a-can movement — Indiana's Sun King and Colorado's Oskar Blues — collaborated on this Belgian-style ale, which will debut in 16-ounce cans at May's Craft Brewers Conference in San Diego. After that, the 8-percent-ABV beer brewed with Indiana hickory syrup and Colorado malts will be available in the breweries' home territories.

One-time release. Available in May in CO, IN.

View gallery

.
Dogfish Head Positive Contact

Dogfish Head Positive Contact

Dogfish Head teamed up with hip-hop artist Dan the Automator of Deltron 3030 to create this beer-cider hybrid that includes Fuji apples, cayenne pepper, roasted farro, and fresh cilantro — ingredients that Dan picked from New York's Eataly market. Only 9,000 cases of 750-ml bottles were produced.

One-time release. Available in May in AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, NC, NH, NJ, NE, NY, OH, OR, PA, SC, TX, VA, VT, WA.

View gallery

.
Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA

Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA

Oregon's Deschutes Brewery marries a hoppy India pale ale with a Belgian-style witbier in its new Chainbreaker. Brewed with orange peel, coriander, and juicy Pacific Northwest hops, this is the most balanced example I've tasted of the emerging white IPA style.

Year-round. Available now in OR, WA and ID; rolling out soon to AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, MN, MO, MT, NV, NM, ND, SD, TX, UT, WY.

View gallery

.

The James Bond Lager

"Shaken, not stirred" is no more. Or, at least, on suspension. When the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall, comes to theaters in November, our favorite British spy (Daniel Craig, reprising the role) will trade in his martini for a Heineken.

The switch is part of a reported $45 million endorsement deal the Dutch beer brand struck with the film's producers.

View gallery

.
O'Fallon Kite Tail Summer Ale

The Mellow Beers...

O'Fallon Kite Tail Summer Ale

This new cream ale — the ale world's equivalent to American lagers — is clean and crisp, with a slightly tart, refreshing finish.

Available late April through August in AL, CO, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MI, MO, OH, PA, TN, WI.

View gallery

.
Samuel Adams Verloren

Samuel Adams Verloren

The latest release in Samuel Adams's Small-Batch Series is this gose (pronounced GOES-uh), an all-but-forgotten German-style wheat beer that has an unusual ingredient: salt. That lends a slightly mineral character to the beer's flavor.

One-time release. Available in May nationwide.

View gallery

.
Tallgrass 8-Bit Pale Ale

Tallgrass 8-Bit Pale Ale

Tallgrass Brewing Co.'s new canned pale ale is retro-cool in its homage to old-school 8-bit video games. "Just like those classic games, 8-Bit is spectacularly simple at first glance yet remarkably fun and complex when you get into it," the Kansas brewery notes. Australian-grown Galaxy hops might give you a Pac Man-like boost, too.

Year-round. Available now in AL, AR, KS, MN, MO, MS, MT, ND, NE, OK, PA, SD, VA, WI.

View gallery

.
Terrapin Easy Rider

Terrapin Easy Rider

A new entry in the growing field of "session" beers — ones that have a relatively low alcohol content, so you can enjoy several in one drinking session without suffering liver fatigue — is this version from Terrapin Brewing Co. in Athens, Georgia. Easy Rider is brewed with five kinds of hops for lots of flavor, but at just 4.5 percent ABV, it's hardly hangover-inducing.

Seasonal release. Available in May in AL, FL, GA, NJ, NC, PA, SC, TN, VA.

View gallery

.
Magic Hat Elder Betty

Magic Hat Elder Betty

Sweet-tart elderberry flavors brighten this wheat ale from Magic Hat, which is rolling out this summer in the Vermont brewery's Summer Scene sampler pack and in six-packs.

One-time release. Available now through July nationwide.

View gallery

.
New Belgium Shift

New Belgium Shift

Pale lagers get a bad rap among beer geeks for being boring in the flavor department. They can't say that about Shift, a brand-new pale lager that comes in 16-ounce cans and has a subtle kick of green-grape flavor from Nelson Sauvin hops.

Year-round. Currently available in AR, AZ, CA, CO, DC, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, MD, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NE, NM, NV, OR, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, WA, WI, WY.

View gallery

.
Omission Pale Ale

Gluten-Free Beer That Doesn't Suck

Any brewer will tell you: It's really, really hard to make a gluten-free beer that tastes good.

Malted barley, after all, is one of just four main ingredients in beer. As a substitute, brewers have usually used malted sorghum, but its thin flavor leaves something to be desired. Widmer Bros. Brewing in Oregon has changed that with its new Omission line of gluten-free beers. A proprietary process enables Widmer Bros. to brew with malted barley while keeping gluten levels below the international standard for what's considered gluten-free.

The first releases — Omission Pale Ale and Omission Lager — are available this month in Oregon, with broader distribution planned. And they taste like real beer, because they are real beer.

View gallery

.
Mikkeller

Brewers Without a Home

Building and maintaining a brewery is expensive. Many-millions-of-dollars expensive. A trend that shows no sign of slowing is that of the so-called gypsy brewer. Believe it or not, such men and women are producing some of the most sought-after craft beers in the world, even though they have no physical base.

At brewing time, they rent space and equipment at various breweries, giving them the freedom to make whatever beers strike their fancy (like Beer Geek Brunch Weasel from Mikkeller in Copenhagen, Denmark, brewed with coffee beans that have been excreted from civet cats — much better than it sounds). Two more gypsy labels to keep an eye on in 2012: Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project (Cambridge, Massachusetts) and Stillwater Artisanal Ales (Baltimore).

More from Esquire:

Easy Ways to Dress Better This Spring

Important Things Men Don’t Know About Women

10 Ways to Avoid Date Disaster

79 Things That Make Life Better

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Mom's shocking photo of 10-year-old son depicts painful reality of cancer

      A mom posted this harrowing photo of her son to Facebook. This photo of a 10-year-old boy, bald, pained look on his face, standing in his pull-ups diaper while clinging on to the bathroom sink is quickly going viral on Facebook. The photo may not be pretty, it’s admittedly hard to look at, but it’s a raw depiction of what life is like for a cancer patient — which is exactly why the boy’s mother posted it.

      Yahoo Canada Style
    • 67-Year-Old Woman Beat Boyfriend to Death with a Bat for 36 Hours, Police Allege

      Investigators in Washington D.C. have arrested a woman for allegedly beating her boyfriend to death last week — with a metal baseball bat — over the course of 36 hours, PEOPLE confirms.

      People
    • Malia Obama in Ultimate Rich Kids' Ski Trip Pic (PHOTO)

      Malia Obama is on an Aspen vacay that will absolutely make you HATE your life when you see who she's posing with in what has to be the richie richiest photo of all time. Here's the answer key for who's who in this shot, taken last weekend at Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro in Aspen: 1. Malia 2. Elizabeth Tisch, daughter of NY Giants co-owner Steve Tisch 3. Audrey Kotick, daughter of Activision/Blizzard CEO Robert Kotick (think Call of Duty money) 4. Fashion designer Monique Lhuillier 5. Jamie Tisch, ex-wife of Steve 6. Tom Bugbee, Monique Lhuillier's husband 7. Holden Tisch, daughter of Steve 8. Zachary Tisch, son of Steve 9. Tassilo von Furstenberg, grandson of Diane von Furstenberg When President

      TMZ q
    • Bill Gates supposedly has long way to go to catch the real richest man in the world

      Coming in at around $86 billion, Bill Gates has ridden his Microsoft fortune straight to the top of the Forbes list of the world’s richest men. Then again, the business magazine doesn’t take into account ...

      MarketWatch q
    • Japan zoo kills 57 monkeys carrying 'invasive alien' genes

      A Japanese zoo has killed 57 snow monkeys by lethal injection, after they were found to be carrying genes of an "invasive alien species." One third of the monkeys at the Takagoyama Nature Zoo were found to have been crossbred with the rhesus macaque. SEE ALSO: Robotic finger monkeys are cute and not weird at all The rhesus macaque, which is native to parts of India and China, is banned in Japan, and therefore categorised as an "invasive alien species." The snow monkeys were believed to have escaped from their enclosure and bred with the wild monkeys outside the facility. The monkeys had "to be killed to protect the indigenous environment," an official told the Japan Times. The zoo held a memorial

      Mashable q
    • Historian Neil Howe on Bannon, Trump, and the possibility of civil war in the US

      In a revealing interview, Neil Howe—the co-author of The Fourth Turning: What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny—candidly discusses his perspective on Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s Chief Strategist and former head of the online news site Breitbart. Bannon is a proponent of the theory that history generally moves in 80-year cycles, with each cycle ending in a crisis that destroys the old order and ushers in something new. In widely reported remarks, Bannon believes the United States has had three “turnings”—the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Great Depression/World War II—and is now in the midst of another emanating from the 2008 Financial Crisis.

      Business Insider q
    • Once Renowned Surgeon Sentenced to Life Behind Bars for Intentionally Maiming Patients

      Christopher Duntsch once billed himself as the best neurosurgeon in all of Dallas.

      Inside Edition
    • Jeanie Buss says she probably waited too long to fire her brother Jim

      Jim Buss dons a dress cap at the introduction of D’Angelo Russell in 2015. The Los Angeles Lakers’ decision to overhaul the front office and install franchise icon Magic Johnson as president of basketball operations surprised many, not least for the speed with which the move came together. What did not come as much of a shock, though, was that Jim Buss will no longer serve in the role now occupied by Magic.

      Ball Don't Lie
    • Teens accused of plot to rob, kill girl found shot in ditch

      LOGAN, Utah (AP) — Two teenage boys charged with shooting a 14-year-old girl in the back of the head and leaving her wounded in a ditch lured her to the spot in a small Utah town with a plan to rob and kill her, prosecutors said Tuesday.

      Associated Press
    • Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. May Finally Be Addressing A Season 1 Cliffhanger

      Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. first introduced the element gravitonium way back in the third episode of Season 1, when Coulson and his merry band of agents attempted to rescue the brilliant scientist Dr. Franklin Hall from kidnappers. Hall was trying to overload a gravity-distorting device powered by gravitonium before it could be used as a weapon; unfortunately, overloading the device would have destroyed an entire building full of people, so Coulson stepped in and destroyed it. Hall was sucked into the gravitonium, which was packed up and sent away to a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility with him still stuck inside. Jed Whedon's hint that we'll soon get another look at gravitonium may mean that we'll finally learn

      CINEMABLEND q
    • ‘Dr. Death’: Texas Neurosurgeon Gets Life in Prison for Botched Surgery

      A Texas neurosurgeon accused of intentionally botching multiple spinal surgeries, resulting in the death of two people and the paralysis of two others, was sentenced to life in prison on Monday, PEOPLE confirms. Christopher Duntsch, 46, was convicted last week of first-degree felony injury in one of those instances: a botched 2012 surgery involving 74-year-old Mary Efurd who lost a third of her blood and the use of her leg, according to the Dallas Morning News. One patient testified that he woke up paralyzed from the neck down after an operation performed by Duntsch.

      People
    • Amber Rose and Wiz Khalifa dressed up as Batgirl and Batman for their son’s birthday party, are #familygoals

      Some kids are born into lucky situations: Will Ferrell’s three sons (do they ever stop laughing?), Walt Disney’s kids (who had a secret…

      Hello Giggles
    • Interracial couple fined for not removing graffiti slur

      An interracial Connecticut couple whose home was vandalized by a racial slur has been fined for failing to cover it up.

      WPVI – Philadelphia
    • Photos of Former Couples Walking Oscars Red Carpets Past That Will Make Your Heart Hurt (9 photos)

      All of these A-listers have happily moved on ... yet we can't help reminiscing about their past Oscars red carpet moments (and crying a little bit)

      People
    • Here's how Trump has spent his first month in office

      Donald Trump has been in office for exactly one month as of Monday at noon. That's 744 hours...

      Business Insider
    • EXCLUSIVE: Josh Murray Says Andi Dorfman and Nick Viall Are 'Perfect for Each Other'

      The Atlanta native says he's been offered a book deal after Dorfman's controversial tell-all was released last year.

      Entertainment Tonight
    • Ronda Rousey Lands Acting Role

      Ronda Rousey will appear on TV as an actress before she has another UFC fight.

      International Business Times
    • Netanyahu blasts U.N. 'hypocrisy', Australian PM opposes 'one-sided resolutions'

      By Colin Packham SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull offered a staunch defense of Israel on Wednesday, criticizing the United Nations and vowing never to support "one-sided resolutions" calling for an end to Israeli settlement building on occupied land. Turnbull welcomed Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday as the first Israeli prime minister to visit Australia and reiterated Australia's support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

      Reuters
    • Nursing Home Worker Accused of Giving 100-Year-Old Man with Dementia a Lap Dance

      A 26-year-old former nursing home employee was charged after police say she performed a sexually provocative act involving a 100-year-old resident.

      Tribune