10 Beers That Use the Highest Quality Ingredients
Let's face it, most of the beer brewed in America today is made with pretty cheap ingredients. The top-selling beer in the nation, per Audacy, is Bud Light, which is made with hops, barley, water, yeast, and rice, that latter ingredient being the corner cutter, so to speak, also called an adjunct. The number two selling beer? Coors Light, which features all the same stuff except for the rice—it's brewed with corn, instead, per the Denver Business Journal.
The good news is that plenty of breweries in America are dedicated not to making the most profits, but to making the best beers they can. To do that, they—surprise, surprise—use the highest-quality ingredients. Sure, the beers we're featuring here are going to cost you more than a Bud or a Busch or a Natty Light, but they're worth it. And so are you, so now and then, you owe it to yourself to treat yourself to a quality beer made with quality ingredients. Plus, don't miss These Are the 25 Worst Beers in the World.
Surprise, surprise, this common beer is actually very clean. According to the Heineken website, the blonde pilsner is brewed using a natural process with no additives. "It contains water, barley malt, hops, and the unique Heineken® A-yeast for fermentation in the brewing process," says the site. It is also free of genetically modified ingredients and is low in gluten since brewing beer with barley and no wheat leaves only "traces" of gluten in the beer.
Samuel Adams Boston Lager
This beer has been around so long (nearly 40 years, FYI—it was first brewed in 1984) that you probably take it for granted, but the brewers at the Boston Beer Company sure don't. In fact, Sam Adams' founder and CEO Jim Koch personally travel to Germany each year to oversee the selection of Hallertau Mittelfrüh and Tettnang Tettnanger Noble German hops, and he tries each and every batch of Sam Adams Boston Lager before it's bottled, canned, or kegged.
North Coast Brewing Old Rasputin
This Russian Imperial Stout style beer is one of the most decorated beers around, having won 1st place awards at major international beer competitions well over a dozen times and with its wins going back more than two dozen years. What makes it so good? Just a mountain of malt and a lot of hops, that's all. Oh, and a lot more yeast than is used for most brews, too. And the grain bill the brewery uses for Old Rasputin is not only large, but it's also complex and nuanced, with five or six different grains used.
Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA
Sierra Nevada basically put hoppy beers back on the map, at least in America. Before their Pale Ale came out in 1980, everyone was drinking pale lagers with almost no hop presence. They changed that with the Pale Ale, which is still a great beer, but Torpedo Extra IPA is something next level. The "Hop Torpedo" that lends its name is a proprietary hop-filled device the brewery developed through which actively fermenting beer flows, thus creating a perfect dry hop (hops added after the boil) character.
Victory Brewing Golden Monkey Belgian Tripel
This beer is technically a Belgian-style tripel because it is brewed in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, population of approximately 8,000. But really, Golden Monkey is, for all intents and purposes, a genuine Belgian Tripel, as it's made with imported malt and with genuine Belgian yeast, not to mention plenty of hops and a unique blend of spices (yes, there's coriander in there).
Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin Ale
Is this a wheat beer? Is it an ale? Yes to both, actually. The truly unique Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale uses a grain bill that's 50% wheat and 50% barley, so it's got a malty body but a smooth, soft finish. And it also uses a pile of hops, so it's got a great bitterness and a lingering finish, but one that's again softened by that wheat.
Russian River Brewing Pliny the Elder IPA
This beer, beloved among beer lovers, is one of the finest IPAs you can find. Or double IPAs, to be precise. Pliny the Elder, which is almost as famous for being hard-to-find (partly true, partly marketing) as for being delicious, is made with four different kinds of hops which are added in differing amounts at precise intervals during the boil. It's also made with plenty of grain, of course.
Rogue Shakespeare Nitro Stout
One sip of this stuff and your love affair with Guinness will be over – and with just about any other stout, to be honest. An oatmeal stout rich in chocolate and toasty notes and with that smooth, creamy mouthfeel oat brewing provides, this beer is infused with nitrogen, which only enhances that smoothness more. The malt consists of four types of grain and it uses hops grown near where Shakespeare Stout is brewed in Oregon.
Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA
When developed by brewer Sam Calagione in the late 1990s, 90 Minute IPA was the first continually hopped beer ever brewed. It is made by, as "continual hopping" suggests, the constant addition of small amounts of hops during an hour-and-a-half-long brew period, the result being a marvelously complex hop character, as the hop cones are all broken down by differing amounts thus present different notes.
Dogfish Head Fermentation Engastration
We hesitate to even mention this beer due to its rarity, it having been produced but once, but having tried it firsthand, we also feel it's our duty to share. (Also, the brewery may make it an occasional release due to positive reception.) Fermentation Engastration is named for the cooking technique where animal ingredients are stuffed into one another, then cooked. Stuffed into this wild beer are ingredients like Muscat grape juice, sake, wild yeasts, and more.
A previous version of this article was originally published on Jun 16, 2022.