Toppling Goliath Brewing Company
Why you should care about it: It’s likely the smallest beer on this list -- a humble 5.8 % pale ale, she is -- but Sue makes up for the lack of oomph by being one of the best beers in America, period. Citra hops are a huge part of it, but then there’s a hint of mango to step it up. Also, if the label is to be believed, Sue is a T-Rex. And if you really need that extra blast, Sue becomes King Sue in limited IIPA form.
How you can get it: Good news: TG is working with Brew Hub to brew more so that you can get this outside of Iowa. You’re welcome, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Everybody else? Plan a road trip to Iowa bluff country. And keep your fingers crossed that it's in stock (or, you know, call ahead).
Beachwood BBQ & Brewing
Long Beach, CA
Why you should care about it: Beachwood continues to deliver some of the best hoppy beers around, including the near-perfect West Coast IPA known as Melrose, with tons of Simcoe and Amarillo hops that give the beer an incredible nose and taste.
How you can get it: It’s released every few months in a bomber at both brewpubs, Seal Beach and Long Beach, along with a small local distribution. You’ll have this in your hands within a week of bottling or you won’t find it, so keep Beachwood in your news feeds. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
Fat Head's Brewery
Why you should care about it: The Cleveland-based brewery dominated the IIPA in 2013 and this year, and for damn good reason: five hops varietals lend it a hell of a bite, augmented by a fruity finish that makes it slightly dangerous, considering you can down several alongside Fat Heads enormous chicken wings before you know what hit you.
How you can get it: It’s available during late winter in bottles and at the brewery, with intermittent kegs popping up every now and again. Luckily, Fat Head's is now also in Pittsburgh and Portland, OR too, so at least some people have a shot at getting their hands on some outside Cleveland.
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Scott Klemme is an engineer living in San Diego. You'll find him and his dog @Bowieknows at a brewery any time they can convince his wife.