A ranking of the best fifty beers in the world: the task may appear impossible. After all, how does anyone properly compare a saison to a port, or an IPA to an imperial stout? Determining the fifty best beers is certainly an ambitious project, but part of what actually does make it possible is its immediacy: our list is very much of the moment in 2014.
Three years ago, a lot more Imperial IPAs would have been present, and there would have been fewer saisons. This list is a reflection not only of the best beers being crafted internationally, but also of changing tastes in the market — such as the emergence of Belgian-styles being made outside of Belgium. A few of the incredibly hoppy IPAs; extremely popular in the past few years, unsurprisingly made the list while the current trend of sour beers is represented as well. Although it’s not represented in our top-fifty, keep an eye out for the newly emerging love of session beers — as brewers attempt to get the most flavor possible out of the ingredients without all the alcohol.
Along with the Belgians, there is a strong American presence. What could make so many beer experts inclined to rank this many American brews in a list of the top 50 beers made all around the world? The American craft brewing scene has not only blown up, but has become truly respectable in its own right. Not too terribly long ago, critics might have said there was no distinct American style beer. Today, America is replicating and improving upon traditional styles, as well as innovating and adding new things to the market.
To determine our top fifty, we went straight to a group of specialists and professionals. We asked our panelist of beer experts to submit five of their favorite beers made anywhere in the world, then we compiled the most popular results of that list with some additional international winners for a list of one hundred stellar international beers — all of which would have been at home in the final fifty. The panelists were then invited to vote on their favorites among these hundred, which we then distilled down to a final fifty brews based on popularity within the panel, while taking into account international accolades.
Clearly, this is an imperfect system. With a list of only 50 beers, there are going to be some truly excellent brews that get overlooked — from Fuller’s London Porter to Bell’s Oberon; Founders Red Rye PA to Stillwater Farmhouse Ale, oh, not to mention Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, or Hitachino Nest White Ale, or — you get the point. We could go on and on about our adoration of beers that didn’t make the cut, but we’re absolutely enamored with the final fifty on our list. Cheers!
Jess Novak is the Drink Editor of The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @jesstothenovak