"The only thing more dangerous than living next to a bar is living next to a brewery -- three little blocks, in my case. Fieldwork is constantly changing its lineup, which is why it was so hard to pick a favorite (because no matter what, I was going to pick one of their beers for this list). 2016 was a big year for fruit beers, and nobody crushes it in that department more than Fieldwork.
"My favorite of the year has to be High Sea -- an IPA brewed with sea salt, oranges, and tangerines. It's super-juicy and dank with just the right hint of salt. Personally, I think the addition of salt to IPAs is quite brilliant. It seems to neutralize the hop bitterness in a really neat way (did I really just say neat?). The name of this beer is also quite brilliant. High Sea... get it? High Sea? Like Hi-C? But with sea, because of the sea salt? Pretty neat, right?"-- Ashley Routson, writer, Drink With the Wench
"It’s clean and crisp with a nice American hop bite. While there were plenty of great beers throughout the year, none were as easy to drink while still being flavorful. Even better, it won't burn you out if you drink pint after pint." -- Ben Brausen, writer, Craft Beer Time
"Every few years a beer comes out that transcends the craft-brewing industry -- one so much more than just a great representation of its style or its brewery. SPON is exactly that! Created using the method of authentic Belgian gueuze: a blend of one-, two-, and three-year-old 100% spontaneously fermented beer. As my fermented brother Jeffrey Stuffings puts it, 'Méthode Gueuze -- pioneered by breweries like Cantillon -- stems from a desire to protect this traditional method lest it become so watered down, confused, and bastardized that it essentially becomes meaningless.'
"He and his team at Jester King interpret this heritage in the most thoughtful way possible. It involves well water, Texas malted barley, and raw wheat, turbid mash, and a long boil with aged hops and wort chilled and inoculated in a copper coolship. Then it's fermented in oak barrels and naturally conditioned. The second you hear the pop of the cork, your nasal senses are flooded with the undeniable funk of what I lovingly call 'cat piss and burnt hair.' Every sip reveals a new layer of flavor dynamics that an aged fine wine aspires to. Super-tight bubbles and a backbone acidity keep you salivating for more and more." -- Jensen Cummings, Certified Cicerone, Brewed Food
Los Angeles, California
"This is one of our favorite representations of a West Coast IPA style -- so bright and pungent it's like drinking California sunshine from a can. The resinous hops punch forward along with tropical fruit flavors like passionfruit and mango, while grapefruit and a bit of pine lingers on the nose. With all this going on, Hello, LA finishes dry -- just the way us Angelenos like it!
"We took a few fresh cans of this abroad to test it on the palates of enthusiastic Norwegians and they were blown away with its crispness, bright hops character, and overall drinkability. It's such a great brew to represent Los Angeles, as well as American craft beer." -- Kelly Erickson, writer, Girls Who Like Beer
"I'd had a couple of Rockmill's brews before, being that nearly their entire portfolio is available at my neighborhood Whole Foods. Story is, the beer buyer there's a big fan -- and he's got company. Rockmill is a maker of farmhouse ales located on a former horse farm about 25 miles southeast of Downtown Columbus. Cask Aged Noir is one of their biggest beers -- barrel-aged and clocking in at 10% ABV. It was one of my first new samples of 2016, and I still remember how well the boozy character blended with the vanilla, molasses, and dark, dried fruit flavors.
"The elegant artwork on the label and the cork-stoppered bottle only help to entice new drinkers, but the Ratebeer score in the high 90s should make you want to try it, too." -- Jeremy Fultz, editor, Brew Studs
"I debated this selection -- I didn't want to pick Norm just because it's named after me and my beautiful face is on the equally beautiful label. I didn't want to be accused of playing favorites. However, I'm picking this beer because it's the beer I enjoyed the most after a one-year hiatus. It's the perfect dessert beer -- it features a combination of coconut and chocolate that can't be beat. More and more breweries are doing coconut beers, but none have surpassed Wormtown's version, which features 1lb of coconut per gallon of liquid." -- Norman Miller, writer, Real Beer Nut
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