Top 10 New Beers of 2017 According to Ken Weaver
I sample a fair number of new beer releases as part of my job—especially over these past few years as we’ve been highlighting new stuff at All About Beer Magazine. After stepping down as the mag’s beer editor this fall to focus on freelance work, I’ve kept my column space there and continue to review new releases for folks like Rare Beer Club and Spirited Magazine. Today, one could try only new beers and never run out.
So, some caveats to this Top 10: I am (despite some evidence) apparently not a beer-drinking machine, and this list is but a subset of the many, many, many new beers of 2017. It’s also, by personal preferences and/or circumstances, all but guaranteed to skew towards hoppy, Californian, freshly packaged releases. A couple of these might have appeared in tiny amounts earlier, but all saw their main U.S. launch in 2017. As a group, these are some of the most intriguing beers I’ve been lucky enough to meet.
KEN’S TOP 10 NEW BEERS OF 2017
Ayinger Bavarian Pils
Aying, Bavaria, Germany
Ayinger’s German pils just landed in the States this spring. While many U.S. brewers are riding the post-Pivo hoppy lager wave (no complaints), this one’s more my gear: fluffy, toasty, deftly built pils with a more traditional perimeter of noble hops.
Fieldwork Casa De Citra
The expanding network of Fieldwork taprooms in northern California shows a retail model that’s thriving in an expensive, highly competitive market. While it’s tough to skip over their hop bombs, this aromatic, dry-hopped lager with Citra shows off the depths that Fieldwork has been coaxing out: serene Meyer lemons to dense tropics.
Finback Spill The Tea (w/ Jack’s Abby)
Queens, New York
The obligatory IPL with watermelon and green tea. As grassy and herbal as the best from Jack’s Abby, while its lagering helps the normally quiet special additions pop.
Garage Project Yuzu Rising Sun
Wellington, New Zealand
A parfait-like layering of raspberry and yuzu sour beers, assembled at the Firestone Walker Invitational. Delicious despite wondering if I’m the bad type of millennial.
Henhouse Imperial Red IPA
Santa Rosa, California
I could’ve listed a few newer HenHouse beers here, in the rotating-hop Stoked series and similar, as this local brewery’s become our household’s go-to. The draft-only big red proves flawless: streamlined, huge hops, style-validating structure.
Local Anchored At Local (w/ Anchor)
San Francisco, California
After sampling through a variety of impactful beers with Yakima Chief – Hopunion’s new LupuLN2 product—aka’ lupulin powder—I kept going back to this one. Tons of cantaloupe and vanilla in the aroma, with massive hop terrain that combines Mosaic powder with standard adds of Amarillo, El Dorado, Nelson Sauvin and more Mosaic.
Modern Times Dragon Mask (w/ Casita Cerveceria)
San Diego, California
A brewery that’s proven to rarely miss the mark. This imperial-stout collab with the talented Casita Cerveceria is billed as a “liquid churro,” which sounds ludicrous and was still the best-structured beer I tried at this year’s Great American Beer Festival. Honorable mention to the brewery’s Triton Project showcasing South African hops.
Ommegang Pale Sour Ale (w/ Liefmans)
This new launch in the Ommegang lineup is brewed and bottled at Liefmans. Subtle, deftly layered peach, lime, lemon and more, amidst the flood of so-not-subtle sours.
Temescal Carried Away
Temescal Brewing’s created a number of silky-smooth lagers and hoppy items. This canned offering is memorable hazy IPA in a year of forgettable ones: plump notes of mango and tangerine from Galaxy, Mandarina Bavaria and Southern Passion hops.
Upland Cursed Kettles (w/ Prairie)
Our kitchen sink’s drank a lot of kettle sours this year. But this oak-aged sour collab employs both kettle souring and a mixed-strain ferment (three months in wine and bourbon barrels) to stellar effect. The result feels bottomless, its special adds of figs and black cherries supporting a lush core vibe of raspberry fruit leather.
—Ken Weaver is a freelance beer writer and editor in Petaluma, California. He is the author of The Northern California Craft Beer Guide and most recently served as beer editor of All About Beer Magazine. Find him on Instagram + Twitter @KenWeaver.