The best craft beer in every state
Fifty nifty United States, from 13 original colonies… and they've all got some can't-miss cold ones awaiting you, courtesy of some good old American craft breweries.
It's National Beer Day, and while we've got nothing against a nice cold macrobrew (here's to you, Miller High Life!) we thought it was worth taking some time to celebrate some of the many (many, many) excellent beers made by local brewers across the country. Some are from small shops – as in places that don't distribute outside their own zip code, or even their own tasting room. Some are burgeoning empires, as with Tree House Brewing Company of Massachusetts. But all are worth a try.
To choose the best beer from each state, we went to a reputable source: beer-lovers. We consulted the ratings at Beer Advocate, a popular site for brew aficionados, which allows members to rate and review the beers they try in detail. In most cases, we went with the top-rated beer from each state, only going further down the list when the beer in question had fewer than 200 ratings. Beer Advocate's rankings are weighted to account for number of rankings, but we thought a bigger sample size was important. If we've had to stray from that formula, you'll find an explanatory note in the corresponding entry.
Drink responsibly, enjoy wholeheartedly. Cheers!
Alabama: Snake Handler Double IPA (Imperial IPA, Good People Brewing Company)
This Birmingham brewing company describes its popular beer as "a spirited celebration of all things hoppy." Expect aromas of pine, citrus, flowers and spice, among others.
ABV: 10% | Location: Birmingham, AL | Brewery info
Alaska: Blessed (American Imperial Stout, Anchorage Brewing Company)
A boozy, midnight-dark stout, Blessed is aged in bourbon barrels, with a little help from Madagascar vanilla beans and both raw and toasted coconut.
ABV: 15.5% | Location: Anchorage, AK | Brewery info
Arizona: Tower Station IPA (American IPA, Anchorage Brewing Company)
Made with Chinook, Citra, Columbus and Simcoe hops, this unfiltered IPA "celebrates the citrus groves and agriculture along Route 66."
ABV: 7.3% | Location: Flagstaff, AZ | Brewery info
Arkansas: BDCS (Milk Stout, Ozark Beer Co.)
Another barrel-aged gem, BDCS (Bourbon Double Cream Stout) is described by brewer Lacie Bray as "a bourbon-soaked brownie." Like a lot of the stouts and porters on this list, BDCS is a limited annual release.
ABV: 10.2% | Location: Rogers, AR | Brewery info
California: Pliny the Younger (Imperial IPA, Russian River Brewing Company)
A boozier version of Russian River's popular Pliny the Elder, this triple IPA "is medium-bodied with tons of hop character in the aroma and mouthfeel with notes of oranges (think orange candies), stone fruit, and citrus."
ABV: 10.25% | Location: Santa Rosa, CA | Brewery info
Colorado: Leaner (Saison, Casey Brewing & Blending)
A collaboration with Side Project Brewing, Leaner (named for "a peach [that] is so juicy you have to lean forward or it spills on you") is a saison that's aged "on a massive amount of Colorado peaches."
ABV: 8% | Location: Glenwood Springs, CO | Brewery info
Connecticut: Fuzzy Baby Ducks (New England IPA, New England Brewing Co.)
A single-hopped IPA (all Citra, all the time), this beer is said to be even better than its absolutely adorable name and artwork would indicate.
ABV: 6.2% | Location: Woodbridge, CT | Brewery info
Delaware: Utopias Barrel-Aged World Wide Stout (American Imperial Stout, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery)
All of Delaware's top 10 beers hail from acclaimed brewery Dogfish Head, and of those 10, four are variations of their World Wide Stout. This rarity, made in collaboration with Boston Beer Company, is (per Beer Advocate) "dark, rich, roasty, and complex."
ABV: 17.3% | Location: Milton, DE | Brewery info
Florida: Hunahpu's Imperial Stout – Double Barrel Aged (American Imperial Stout, Cigar City Brewing)
An annual release, Hunahpu (named for a central figure in Mayan mythology) is a rich, chocolaty stout sought after by beer-lovers; the 2023 is brewed with cinnamon, vanilla, chile peppers and cacao nibs.
ABV: 11% | Location: Tampa, FL | Brewery info
Georgia: Tropicália (American IPA, Creature Comforts)
This well-balanced IPA features "a hop aroma of citrus and ripe passion fruit," which "leads into a full, fruit-forward hop flavor that washes over the palate, and ends with a subtle bitterness."
ABV: 6.6% | Location: Athens, GA | Brewery info
Hawaii: Imperial Coconut Porter (Imperial Porter, Maui Brewing Co.)
You may have some trouble finding this "deeper, more intense version of MBC’s flagship Coconut Hiwa Porter," a limited release "brewed with hand toasted coconut, and subtle hints of cacao and coffee." Luckily, Coconut Hiwa Porter, which clocks in at #12 on the Hawaii list, is widely distributed (and as this writer can confirm, extremely delicious).
ABV: 9.4% | Location: Kihei, HI | Brewery info
Idaho: 5 O'Clock Shadow (Schwarzbier, Grand Teton Brewing Co.)
None of the beers in Idaho's top 10 have racked up more than 200 rankings, but the first beer on the list that did – Pursuit of Hoppiness, the 11th-place finisher – hails from Grand Teton Brewing Company, as do the only two to break the 100-ranking mark. So we're giving the win to fifth-place brew 5 O'Clock Shadow (122 rankings), a "soft and smooth" dark lager.
ABV: 4.7% | Location: Victor, ID | Brewery info
Illinois: Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout (American Imperial Stout, Goose Island Beer Co.)
Goose Island's Bourbon County Stouts are a perennial favorite of beer lovers – indeed, the list of Illinois' best beers is dotted with variants of the popular brew. But this variant, first brewed in 2010, comes out on top, thanks perhaps to its "rich chocolate, coffee and caramel flavors that will appeal to coffee drinkers and beer lovers alike."
ABV: 13.2% | Location: Chicago, IL | Brewery info
Indiana: Marshmallow Handjee (Russian Imperial Stout, 3 Floyds Brewing Co.)
Good luck finding this sought-after riche stout – as of this writing, you can buy a bottle of the 2021 edition on MyBeerCollectibles.com for a cool $200. But if you can't track down a bottle of your own, this Indiana brewery's popular Zombie Dust, Beer Advocate's pick for the world's best American Pale Ale, is somewhat easier to find.
ABV: 15% | Location: Munster, IN | Brewery info
Iowa: Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout (American Imperial Stout, Toppling Goliath Brewing Company)
Calling this Iowa's best beer is burying the lede just a bit: This stout, available only at the brewery's annual release day event, is the top-rated beer in the world, according to Beer Advocate users. The brewery describes it as possessing "intense aromatics of espresso and maple syrup," which "lead into bourbon drenched maple candy and chocolate brownies on the palate." As they say in "The Music Man," you really ought to give Iowa – and this sought-after stout – a try.
ABV: 12% | Location: Decorah, IA | Brewery info
Kansas: Old Backhus Barleywine (American Barleywine, Free State Brewing Co.)
Free State Brewing has a mighty fine suggestion for this boozy brew, which is available only once a year: "This barleywine is perfect for extended aging at cellar temperatures. Pick up some for the here and now along with a 4-pack to savor next year."
ABV: 10.5% | Location: Lawrence, KS | Brewery info
Kentucky: Baba Yaga (Russian Imperial Stout, Ethereal Brewing)
Baba Yaga is a celebrated Russian Imperial Stout that, fittingly for a Kentucky brew, gets aged in Four Roses Bourbon barrels. The variation currently on tap as of this writing, French Toast Baba, is (per the brewery) "warming yet decadent with rich flavors of maple syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon. Perfect breakfast pairing!"
ABV: 13.1% | Location: Lexington, KY | Brewery info
Louisiana: Ghost in the Machine – Double Dry-Hopped (New England IPA, Parish Brewing Company)
Broussard's Parish Brewing Company argues that "our collective human consciousness, or Ghost in the Machine, has gained a tolerance for hops beyond what mankind has ever known before." Thus, they made this juicy double IPA, with aromas of grapefruit "and less harsh bitterness than most IIPAs."
ABV: 8.5% | Location: Broussard, LA | Brewery info
Maine: Dinner (Imperial IPA, Maine Beer Co.)
Made with seven pounds of hops per barrel, Maine Beer Co.'s bright double IPA is only available occasionally – luckily, its beautiful tasting room looks to be worth a visit even if you're late for Dinner.
ABV: 8.2% | Location: Freeport, ME | Brewery info
Maryland: Double Duckpin (Imperial IPA, Union Craft Brewing Company)
Union Craft's Duckpin is a session-style pale ale, perfect for a leisurely afternoon spent sipping a nice cold beer. With Double Duckpin, they doubled down, crafting a boozier variation that's "danker than a rental shoe and rolling with ten frames of juicy, resinous hops down a solid lane of malted barley and wheat."
ABV: 8.5% | Location: Cambridge, MD | Brewery info
Massachusetts: King Julius (New England IPA, Tree House Brewing Company)
Want a hint as to how popular King Julius – and the brewery that makes it – is? Take a look at the Massachusetts top 10 – four of the beers on that list are Julius variations, and the other six slots are also occupied by brews from Tree House Brewing Company. It seems the people of the Bay State love "an exceptionally flavorful, juicy, and hop-saturated beer," and so do Beer Advocate users: it's not only the top beer in the state, it's also the site's top-ranked New England IPA.
ABV: 8.2% | Location: Charlton, MA | Brewery info
Michigan: CBS - Canadian Breakfast Stout (American Imperial Stout, Founders Brewing Company)
While this beer was ostensibly retired in 2019 (though never say never with craft beers, where re-releases are as common as empty pints), it has remained a fave of Beer Advocate users (even as the brewery has faced accusations of racial discrimination). Luckily for CBS lovers, the beer from which it springs (and the state's second-place finisher), Kentucky Breakfast Stout, isn't going anywhere.
ABV: 11.3% | Location: Grand Rapids, MI | Brewery info
Minnesota: Abrasive Ale (Imperial IPA, Surly Brewing Company)
Made with Warrior and Citra hops, Surly's hazy gold double IPA was originally intended as a limited release, but the citizens of Minnesota demanded more, and Surly gave the people what they wanted.
ABV: 9.2% | Location: Minneapolis, MN | Brewery info
Mississippi: Crowd Control (Imperial IPA, Southern Prohibition Brewing)
One of this popular brewery's flagship beers, Crowd Control boasts a "solid malt backbone accompanied with a fruity and sticky dry-hopped Mosaic overlay." Yum.
ABV: 8% | Location: Hattiesburg, MS | Brewery info
Missouri: Abraxas – Barrel-Aged (American Imperial Stout, Perennial Artisan Ales)
An imperial stout made with ancho chili peppers, cacao nibs, cinnamon sticks and vanilla beans, Perennial's acclaimed ale (Beer Advocate ranks it as the third-best American Imperial Stout there is) is a seasonal release, so look for it – or plan a trip to St. Louis – in fall or winter.
ABV: 11% | Location: St. Louis, MO | Brewery info
Montana: Ivan the Terrible – Barrel-Aged (Russian Imperial Stout, Big Sky Brewing Company)
Described by the brewery as "rich, complex and intense" with flavors of "dark chocolate, dried fruit and bourbon," this imperial stout is one that's likely to get even more interesting as it ages – that is, if you can wait that long to drink it.
ABV: 11.6% | Location: Missoula, MT | Brewery info
Nebraska: Melange A Trois, Reserve Series (Belgian Pale Strong Ale, Nebraska Brewing Company)
Aged in French oak Chardonnay barrels, Melange A Trois was Nebraska Brewing Company's first beer in their reserve series. The brewery calls it "a fascinating mesh of dry, sweet, and wine-like character," thanks in part to the oak tannins resulting from the aging process. But even if you're not a beer drinker (thanks for reading this list anyway!) this brewery is worth a visit – they also make hard seltzers.
ABV: 11.3% | Location: La Vista, NE | Brewery info
Nevada: Disco Ninja (New England IPA, Revision Brewing Company)
Every beer but one in Nevada's top 10 springs from Revision Brewing Company, so while technically this Northeast-style hazy IPA nabbed the number 6 slot (with 170 ratings, the highest in the top 10), we're giving it the win. After all, all five beers that placed ahead of it are also from Revision, so we don't think they'll mind.
ABV: 7% | Location: Sparks, NV | Brewery info
New Hampshire: Hopulization (Imperial IPA, Stoneface Brewing Co.)
Double dry-hopped with what the brewery calls "irresponsible amounts of Galaxy and Calypso hops," Stoneface's citrusy double IPA is a limited release, but it sure sounds like it's worth the hunt.
ABV: 8.9% | Location: Newington, NH | Brewery info
New Jersey: Sunday Brunch (Imperial Porter, Kane Brewing Company)
Beer Advocate notes that this imperial milk porter was once called Morning Bell. Since Morning Bell is also in New Jersey's top 10, the supremacy of this dark brew with coffee, maple syrup and cinnamon cannot be denied.
ABV: 9.2% | Location: Ocean Township, NJ | Brewery info
New Mexico: Project Dank (American IPA, La Cumbre Brewing Co.)
The top-rated beer in New Mexico springs from Albuquerque's La Cumbre (as do all but one of the state's top 10). This one changes with the seasons: according to the brewery it's "an ever changing expression of our hoppiest endeavors. Each recipe is different, featuring different hops and hopping techniques. One thing will remain common… HOP INSANITY."
ABV: 7.5% | Location: Albuquerque, NM | Brewery info
New York: 4th Anniversary (New England IPA, Other Half Brewing Company)
Eight of New York's top 10 beers spring from Other Half, so don't worry if you can't track down this limited edition bad boy. Still, we think the hunt for the quadruple-hopped 4th Anniversary will be worth the effort. If not, you can console yourself with one of the brewery's many double dry-hopped monsters, or leave the top 10 behind to try one of Other Half's other charmingly-named brews: Broccoli, Chicken Riggies, Fresh Pickles, Jumbo Slice, The Daydreamiest, Bagel & Schmear, Stacks on Stacks, Space Diamonds, Poetry Snaps… the list goes on.
ABV: 10% | Location: Brooklyn, NY | Brewery info
North Carolina: CitraQuench'l (New England IPA, Heist Brewery)
Heist's signature IPA, the confusingly-spelled CitraQuench'l makes up for that odd punctuation with "big tropical fruit" and "a smooth, dry finish."
ABV: 7.1% | Location: Charlotte, NC | Brewery info
North Dakota: Freak Parade (New England IPA, Drekker Brewing Company)
None of the beers in North Dakota's top 10 have more than 200 ratings, but this IPA, the second-place finisher, cracked the 100-mark, so we're gladly giving it the win. It's a juicy IPA made with what the brewery calls "an absurd amount of Vic Secret, El Dorado, and Mosaic hops." Still, we don't think the makers of the beer in the top slot will mind – it, like every single beer in North Dakota's top 100, is also made by Drekker Brewing Company.
ABV: 8.2% | Location: Fargo, ND | Brewery info
Ohio: Appervation (American Imperial Stout, Jackie O's Brewpub)
A collaboration with fellow brewery Side Project, this special Imperial is a blend of barrel-aged stouts, which were then aged for 14 months in bourbon barrels. Jackie O's describes it as "inky, warm, dark & extravagant, swallowing you into a deep abyss of liquid love."
ABV: 15% | Location: Athens, OH | Brewery info
Oklahoma: Bourbon Paradise (American Imperial Stout, Prairie Artisan Ales)
Made with vanilla and coconut, this bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout ranks #1 on Beer Advocate's Oklahoma list – but nine of the top 10 slots also belong to Prairie Artisan Ales, so even if boozy stouts aren't your cup of tea, this craft brewery is worth a visit.
ABV: 13.7% | Location: Oklahoma City, OK | Brewery info
Oregon: Nectarine Premiere (Saison, de Garde Brewing)
This craft brewing gem on the Oregon coast ages their "spontaneous farmhouse ale" in oak barrels for a year. Like all de Garde's beers, this one isn't made with lab-cultured yeast; instead, the brewery cools the wort (pre-fermentation malt) naturally. Says the brewery of this process: "Amazing yeast and microflora are all around us! That's why we're in Tillamook!"
ABV: 7.1% | Location: Tillamook, OR | Brewery info
Pennsylvania: Le Roar Grrrz (Wild Ale, Bullfrog Brewery)
A barrel-aged sour beer that's "years in the making," this fruity wild ale is "keg-conditioned to perfection" for 3-4 years. None of the beers in Pennsylvania's top 5 have more than 200 rankings, though this one comes closest at 175. You have to drop down from this first-place finisher to sixth place to break the 200-mark, but that beer is also a Le Roar Grrrz variant, so we feel good about leaving the original in the top slot.
ABV: 7.2% | Location: Williamsport, PA | Brewery info
Rhode Island: Captain's Daughter (Imperial IPA, Grey Sail Brewing of Rhode Island)
This popular imperial IPA came in at fourth in Beer Advocate's ranking, but the top three slots all have less than 200 ratings, while this bad boy has over 1,500. Still, if you make a trip to the Ocean State to try this "effortlessly drinkable" brew, consider a side trip to Exeter's Tilted Barn Brewery, the state's first farm brewery, to try the beers nabbing spots 1-3.
ABV: 8.5% | Location: Westerly, RI | Brewery info
South Carolina: Mexican Cake / Mexican Coffee Cake (American Imperial Stout, Westbrook Brewing Co.)
The second-place finisher on South Carolina's list, Mexican Cake, has nearly 10 times as many ratings as the beer in the top slot – but given that Mexican Coffee Cake is that very beer infused with coffee, we decided to call it a tie. Both are aged on "cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks and fresh habanero peppers."
ABV: 10.5% | Location: Mt. Pleasant, SC | Brewery info
South Dakota: SoDank IPA (American IPA, Lost Cabin Beer Co.)
None of the beers in South Dakota's top 10 have racked up more than 100 ratings – heck, none of them have cracked 50 yet. Still, we're eager to try this juicy, dry-hopped IPA.
ABV: 6.8% | Location: Rapid City, SD | Brewery info
Tennessee: Astronaut Status (American Imperial Stout, Wiseacre Brewing)
One of Wiseacre's rarest specialty beers, this boozy bourbon barrel-aged stout is a limited edition of its Off in Space Imperial Stout.
ABV: 12.2% | Location: Memphis, TN | Brewery info
Texas: Atrial Rubicite (Wild Ale, Jester King Brewery)
This Austin-based brewery specializes in farmhouse brews, including this barrel-aged sour, which is re-fermented with local raspberries. The brewery hosts doom metal goat yoga every Saturday morning at present, so if you've ever wanted to have a baby goat stand on your back while you find inner calm and listen to people shred, you can achieve that dream and have this celebrated tart brew afterward.
ABV: 5.8% | Location: Austin, TX | Brewery info
Utah: Big Bad Baptista (American Imperial Stout, Epic Brewing Company)
Every single beer in Utah's top 10 is a variation of Epic's Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout, but while the original nabbed the #2 spot, this close cousin came out on top. Released in 2016, it's aged in whiskey barrels. According to Untappd.com, it's "inspired by traditional Mexican coffee, Café de Olla, which is served with cinnamon and piloncillo … the cinnamon adds another layer of complexity and accentuates the earthy character of Mexican Coffee, but more importantly, it captures the essence of a place and its culture."
ABV: 11.7% | Location: Salt Lake City, UT | Brewery info
Vermont: Heady Topper (Imperial IPA, The Alchemist)
One of the most celebrated beers on our list, Heady Topper is often called the best IPA in the world – but to try it, you'll probably need to head to the Northeast, as it's rarely distributed outside Vermont.
ABV: 8% | Location: Stowe, VT | Brewery info
Virginia: Double Orange Starfish (New England IPA, Aslin Beer Company)
Brewed with Galaxy and Citra hops, craft beer purveyor Tavour calls this gem a "juicebomb" that's "like an island vacation right in your living room!"
ABV: 8.3% | Location: Alexandria, VA | Brewery info
Washington: Coffee Cinnamon B-Bomb (American Strong Ale, Fremont Brewing Company)
Four of the top 10 beers in Washington are from Fremont's B-Bomb series, a collection of barrel-aged winter ales. This one, a blend of ales aged for 9, 12 and 24 months in American Oak bourbon barrels, "adds cold brew coffee and cinnamon bark to complement the bourbon, oak, cacao, leather, toffee, and dark coffee notes achieved from its extended barrel aging and barrel blending."
ABV: 13% | Location: Seattle, WA | Brewery info
Washington DC (District of Columbia): On the Wings of Armageddon (Imperial IPA, DC Brau Brewing Co.)
Beer Advocate describes this single-hop beer as "moderately carbonated, deceptively smooth, refreshingly dry and extremely heady," adding that it "exhibits all the necessary traits to be revered as a world class Imperial IPA."
ABV: 9.2% | Location: Washington, DC | Brewery info
West Virginia: Halleck Pale Ale (American Pale Ale, Chestnut Brew Works)
Named for the road on which it's brewed, Halleck "boasts a delectably happy flavor with a slight malt nuttiness, and only a pleasant bitterness to help balance the taste." Note: None of the beers in WV's top 10 cracked the 200-rating mark, so we went with the top slot.
ABV: 6% | Location: Morgantown, WV | Brewery info
Wisconsin: Black Gold (American Imperial Stout, Central Waters Brewing Co.)
If you want to try this sought-after stout, you'll need to set a calendar alert. According to Central Waters, "bottles of this bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout get released at the brewery every October, with every year's batch being a different recipe than the last aged three years in spirit barrels." Sounds like a great reason for a fall field trip to America's Dairyland.
ABV: 11% | Location: Milwaukee, WI | Brewery info
Wyoming: 2x4 DIPA (Imperial IPA, Melvin Brewing)
Melvin's DIPA is an awards-magnet, winning gold medals from the Great American Beer Festival, the North American Beer Awards and the Beer World Cup, among others. Of the top 10 beers in Wyoming, seven spring from this brewery, including 2 x Thor, a cousin to this popular imperial IPA.
ABV: 9.9% | Location: Alpine, WY | Brewery info