Brewed by Cigar City Brewing
Style: Berliner Weisse
Origin: Tampa, Fla.
One unique beer in the list is made more exciting by the fact that it is a pilot series and has not yet been released. Visually, nothing is said to compare to Cigar City’s Passionfruit and Dragonfruit Berliner Weisse. Pouring a vibrant neon pink sample for himself, one RateBeer taster described it as a "Sci Fi beverage." The aroma is said to be as strange as the color, with a taste and smell of exotic fruits. Those who have tried it rave about it and say they can’t wait for it to be officially released.
Brewed by Russian River Brewing
Style: Imperial / Triple India Pale Ale
Origin: Santa Rosa, Calif.
Russian River named its double IPA "Pliny the Elder" after the Roman scholar and naturalist who first named the hops plant and studied it. Pliny the Younger was his adopted son, so it seems fitting for this to be the name of Russian River’s triple IPA. It is almost a true triple IPA, with triple the amount of hops as a regular IPA.
This beer is full-bodied, with hop character in the nose and throughout. It is also deceptively well-balanced and smooth. However, due to it being time- and space-consuming and expensive to make, it is only available once a year for two weeks in February. The beer has been known to sell out on the day of release. Consumers deem it to be worth the fuss though, with many claiming to have stood in line for hours to get some.
Brewed by Bells Brewery
Style: Imperial / Double IPA
Origin: Kalamazoo, Mich.
Bell's Brewery began in 1985 and has grown into a regional craft brewery that employs more than 100 people in 18 states. Coming in sixth, the brewery’s Hopslam starts with six hop varietals added to the brew kettle and culminates with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops. Selected because of their aromatic qualities, these Pacific Northwest hops contribute a pungent blend of grapefruit, stone fruit, and floral notes. A generous malt bill and a solid dollop of honey provide just enough body to keep the balance in check and make it pour a deep gold.
Brewed by Brasserie Rochefort
Origin: Rochefort, Belgium
Described as Belgium’s best and a rival to Westvleteren 12, Trappistes 10 is the top product from the Rochefort brewery. Originally a convent founded in 1230, the current buildings can be traced back to the 1600s. The location started making beer in 1595. This beer has a dark color and tastes of plums, raisins, and black currants.
Brewed by Founders Brewing
Style: Imperial Breakfast Stout
Origin: Grand Rapids, Mich.
Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers quit their day jobs and fell near bankruptcy to make the types of beers they were passionate about. Fortunately, the gamble paid off. Founders' KBS is described by the brewers as an imperial stout brewed with a massive amount of coffee and chocolates, then cave-aged in oak bourbon barrels for a year to make sure its bourbon undertones come through: A combination that will "make your taste buds squeal," the company says. Consumers seem to agree, with KBS rated fourth on the list with 100 for taste and 99 for style.
Formerly brewed by Goose Island Beer Company
Style: Imperial Stout
Founded in 1988 by John Hall, the Goose Island brewpub was one of the first producers of craft beer in Chicago. Hall built interest in craft beer by allowing consumers at his brewpub to watch the brewing process. The brewpub was successful and led to a larger brewery that he opened in order to keep up with demand. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout was brewed in 2008 and aged for two years in 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle Barrels. A true rarity, each bottle of this beer has its own number and is now permanently retired. Tasters at RateBeer hail the flavors of coffee, vanilla, and chocolate.
Brewed by Närke Kulturbryggeri
Style: Imperial Stout
Origin: Örebro, Sweden
Retired since 2011, Narke Kaggen Stormktsporter is described by the brewery as imperial stout beer, brewed with heather honey and aged on oak barrels for two and a half months. Pouring a very dark brown, it is rated the second best beer of 2012 by those who have tasted it, and described as "liquid perfection."
Brewed by Westvleteren Abdij St. Sixtus
Origin: Westvleteren, Belgium
The small Abbey of St. Sixtus of Westvleteren attracts thousands of pilgrims from around the world, not to pray but to drink. The monastery is famous for producing what is regarded as the best beer in the world: Westvleteren 12.
Westvleteren has the smallest output of all the Trappist breweries, with the monks asking for their beer not to be resold outside the monastery. Introduced in 1940, No. 12 is so popular and produced in such small quantities that the web site warns that if you call to make a reservation to buy the beer, it’s most likely that the line will be busy.
Still, it’s an improvement over the old system, where cars lined up for miles outside without any guarantee of getting the beer. The beer gets a rating of 100 by tasters overall and for its style. Pouring a medium brown, with little head and the aroma of dark fruits, it is described by enthusiasts as a complex beer that lives up to its reputation as the best in the world.