The 50 Best Beers in America

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It’s American Craft Beer Week, and what better way to celebrate than by bending an elbow with 50 of this great country’s finest brews? Whether you’re a fan of decadent imperial stouts, mouth-puckering sours, or floral India pale ales, there’s something for everyone on this list. In no particular order, here are our picks for how to stock your beer fridge:

1. BOMB!, 13% // PRAIRIE ARTISAN ALES, TULSA, OKLAHOMA

Bomb! Prairie Artisan Ales Beer
Prairie Artisan Ales

Prairie’s flagship imperial stout is a potent combination of coffee, chocolate, ancho chili, and vanilla beans that is surprisingly drinkable for a beer that checks in at 13 percent ABV. The chili peppers give it just enough of a spicy burn that you won’t want to take down a whole bottle in a single gulp, but it’s tempting. If you’re really lucky, you’ll turn up one of the limited variant bottlings Prairie occasionally rolls out, like Christmas Bomb!, a version made with cinnamon, or Pirate Bomb!, which has been aged in rum barrels.

2. UNRELIABLE NARRATOR, 7.5% // THREES BREWING, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

Unreliable Narrator Threes Brewing Beer
Threes Brewing

With an unreliable narrator, you never quite know if you’re getting the full, unvarnished truth. You can count on Threes’ Unreliable Narrator to consistently deliver something awesome any time the Brooklyn brewery releases a canning: An IPA that’s juicy and full of papaya and other tropical fruit flavors.

3. HAZE, 8.2% // TREE HOUSE BREWING COMPANY, MONSON, MASSACHUSETTS

It’s tough to get your hands on the beer coming out of what must be the most heavily hyped brewery in the country. You have to show up early at the brewery in western Massachusetts, stand in the line that forms each day, and hopefully collect a few precious pint cans or a growler fill for your trouble. It all sounds like more trouble than it’s worth until you get a sip of the brewery’s trademark cloudy, juicy IPAs. Then it suddenly makes a lot of sense.

4. MAPLE BACON COFFEE PORTER, 6.4% // FUNKY BUDDHA BREWERY, OAKLAND PARK, FLORIDA

The name isn’t false advertising. You get a full spectrum of breakfast flavors in each sip, with distinct layers of roasted coffee, sweet maple, and smoky bacon coming together in a surprisingly seamless experience. It’s an impressive feat that is all the more memorable because it’s not just a novelty beer where one sip is enough. It’s so delicious that you can easily enjoy a pint even well after breakfast.

5. SPOTTED COW, 4.8% // NEW GLARUS BREWING COMPANY, NEW GLARUS, WISCONSIN

Spotted Cow New Glarus Brewing Company beer
New Glares Brewing Company

It’s not the strongest beer on this list. It doesn’t have the fanciest label. And it’s definitely not the most widely available—you can only pick one up in Wisconsin. But it only takes one bottle of this beloved local brewery’s “naturally cloudy farmhouse ale” to see why Wisconsin’s drinkers swear by Spotted Cow. It’s light, crisp, pleasantly fruity, and pairs well with everything.

6. DAISY CUTTER PALE ALE, 5.2% // HALF ACRE BEER COMPANY, CHICAGO

Daisy Cutter Pale Ale Half Acre Beer Company beer
Half Acre Beer Company

Don’t let the flowers on the Chicago staple’s iconic pint cans fool you. This pale ale packs more of a piney, aromatic hop punch than many boozier India pale ales, and its dry, pleasant finish makes it endlessly drinkable.

7. DINO S’MORES MARSHMALLOW IMPERIAL STOUT, 10.5% // OFF COLOR BREWING, CHICAGO

Dino'smores Marshmallow Imperial Stout Beer
M. Kiser / Good Beer Hunting

What do you get when you brew a beer with marshmallow fluff, vanilla beans, graham flour, molasses, and cocoa nibs? A smart way to enjoy a campout classic without running afoul of any fire codes or ending up with sticky fingers.

8. PHILADELPHIA PALE ALE, 4.6% // YARDS BREWING COMPANY, PHILADELPHIA

Philadelphia Pale Ale Yards Brewing Company beer
Yards Brewing Company

Looking for an introduction into the world of pale ales? Look no further. This classic Philadelphia brew is hoppy without being overly bitter, making it the perfect approachable choice. It’s undeniably a pale ale, but instead of sharp hops, each sip rewards you with a pleasant grapefruit aroma and flavor with a crisp finish.

9. THREE PHILOSOPHERS, 9.7% // BREWERY OMMEGANG, COOPERSTOWN, NEW YORK

Three Philosophers Brewery Ommegang beer
Brewery Ommegang

Sometimes the extra two percent makes all the difference. Ommegang’s Belgian-style quadruple makes up 98 percent of each batch of Three Philosophers. The magic comes in the finishing touch: The brewery then fills out the blend with Belgian kriek. It may sound like a drop in the bucket, but those Belgian cherries shine through, giving you a rich, fruity finish that’s perfect as both an after-dinner drink or a companion for cheese and dark chocolate.

10. HIGH WEST-IFIED IMPERIAL COFFEE STOUT, 12.2% // LAGUNITAS BREWING COMPANY, PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA

High West-ified Imperial Coffee Stout Lagunitas Brewing Company beer
Lagunitas Brewing Company

Putting whiskey in your coffee is generally a recipe for bad ideas. Putting your coffee stout in whiskey barrels, on the other hand, is almost always a good idea. Lagunitas’s coffee stout emerges from a nap in High West Distillery’s bourbon and rye barrels with a burly roast coffee flavor that marries beautifully with a kick of whiskey in the finish.

11. PRIMA PILS, 5.3% // VICTORY BREWING CO., DOWNINGTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA

Prima Pils Victory Brewing Co. beer
Victory Brewing Co.

Pilsners may not draw the most beer-geek hype, but a clean, crisp example with just a bit of a floral hop bite on the finish can be heaven on a hot day. Or any day, really. If you’re looking for an American pilsner, look no further than Victory’s excellent take on the style that’s a little grassy, a little toasty, and extremely delicious.

12. TEMPTATION, 7.5% // RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING COMPANY, SANTA ROSA, CALIFORNIA

Temptation Russian River Brewing Company beer
Russian River Brewing Company

Thanks to fermentation with wild yeasts and a period of aging in used chardonnay barrels, Russian River’s iconoclastic blonde ale is not quite like anything you’ve ever tasted. Temptation drinks like a funky cross between beer, cheese, and a dry white wine. Bottles can be hard to find, and they’re even harder to forget.

13. BLACK BUTTE PORTER, 5.2% // DESCHUTES BREWERY, BEND, OREGON

Black Butte Porter Deschutes Brewery beer
Deschutes Brewery

Porters are perfect for those nights when you crave something dark, roasted, and robust but don’t want to tackle a behemoth of an imperial stout. They don’t come much better than Deschutes’s flagship, which backs an earthy chocolate flavor with just a bit of coffee and a subdued piney hop flavor.

14. COFFEE BENDER, 5.1% // SURLY BREWING CO., BROOKLYN CENTER, MINNESOTA

Coffee Bender Surly Brewing Co
Surly Brewing Co.

Surly’s Bender is a gem in its own right as a balanced, drinkable oatmeal brown ale with a chewy mouthfeel and pleasant caramel flavor. An infusion of Guatemalan coffee transforms this variant into something even better: a rich, aromatic pour that feels like the perfect choice for anyone who can’t decide if they’d rather have a beer or an iced macchiato.

15. LA FOLIE SOUR BROWN ALE, 7.0% // NEW BELGIUM BREWING COMPANY, FORT COLLINS, COLORADO

La Folie Sour Brown Ale New Belgium Brewing beer
New Belgium Brewing Company

Up to three years of aging in large oak barrels gives this brown ale a character all its own. It’s complex and fruity, with cherry notes mingling with a bracingly sour blast that’s reminiscent of apple cider vinegar. We know: “Reminiscent of apple cider vinegar” doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, but you have to trust us on this one. It is. By the time your senses have fully processed a sip, you’ll be surprised at how crisp, dry, and refreshing something this sour can be.

16. PSEUDOSUE, 5.8% // TOPPLING GOLIATH BREWING CO., DECORAH, IOWA

Pseudosue Toppling Goliath Brewing Co.
Toppling Goliath Brewing Co.

When you name your beer after the famed T. rex skeleton at Chicago’s Field Museum, it had better be aggressive. Luckily for Toppling Goliath, pseudoSue lives up to its name by delivering a pleasantly toothy rampage of Citra hop flavors. The Field Museum approves, and if you enjoy pale ales, you will, too.

17. CASCADE SANG ROYAL, 9.35% // CASCADE BREWING, PORTLAND, OREGON

Cascade Sang Royal Cascade Brewing beer
Cascade Brewing

Cascade’s incredible sour red ale ages for up to 30 months in cabernet and port barrels with cabernet grapes. The result is a tannic, sour pour that blurs the line between a sour beer and a tannic red wine. Grab some friends and pop the cork on a 750ml bottle of this Oregon treasure.

18. TWO HEARTED ALE, 7% // BELL’S BREWERY, COMSTOCK, MICHIGAN

Two Hearted Ale Bell's Brewery beer
Bell's Brewery

Even if you only have one heart, this exceptional IPA will win it over. Named after a river in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula that’s beloved by fly fishermen, Bell’s standout pale ale is an ideal showcase for the floral, just-bitter-enough magic and grapefruit notes of Centennial hops. It’s a strong contender for the crown of “Best American IPA with a Label Featuring a Fish.”

19. SCULPIN INDIA PALE ALE, 7% // BALLAST POINT BREWING COMPANY, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

Sculpin India Pale Ale Ballast Point Brewing Company beer
Ballast Point Brewing Company

Then again, Ballast Point’s flagship IPA can make a strong, fishy case of its own. Its flavors are a little fruitier, with lots of mango and papaya, and it’s as easy to drink as any IPA you’ll find. Ballast Point bottles Sculpin variants made with grapefruit, habanero, and pineapple, but for our money, you can’t go wrong with the original.

20. SEIZOEN BRETTA, 8% // LOGSDON FARMHOUSE ALES, HOOD RIVER, OREGON

Historically, saisons were light, refreshing ales that were perfect for quenching the thirst of farm laborers. Luckily, you don’t have to put in a shift in the fields to enjoy this excellent example from Oregon’s Logsdon. The addition of brettanomyces yeast and a bit of pear juice gives Seizoen Bretta an extra layer of funky complexity that elevates the style to new heights.

21. BARREL AGED YETI IMPERIAL STOUT, 12.5% // GREAT DIVIDE BREWING CO., DENVER, COLORADO

In 1959, the United States embassy in Kathmandu issued a memo outlining the permits and licenses American hunters would need to acquire before stalking the famed cryptid within Nepal’s borders. Sounds like a lot of trouble. If you’re a stout fan, your time would be better spent hunting down this variant of Great Divide’s flagship. It wakes up from its hibernation in whiskey barrels with a revitalized flavor that boasts vanilla, oak, and just enough booze to let you know not to fight it.

22. WHITE RAJAH INDIA PALE ALE, 6.8% // THE BREW KETTLE, STRONGSVILLE, OHIO

Should you find yourself in the greater Cleveland area when a craving for an IPA loaded with tropical fruit flavors and a nice, lingering hop bite strikes you, head to the Brew Kettle. You won’t regret it.

23. BACKWOODS BASTARD, 11.2% // FOUNDERS BREWING CO., GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN

Backwoods Bastard Founders Brewing Co
Founders Brewing Co.

You’ll have to wait until fall to track down this bourbon-barrel-aged Scotch ale, but it will be worth it. The malty, slightly smoky flavor of the base Scotch ale harmonizes with the vanilla and whiskey flavors to create something darn near perfect for spending a chilly night inside or huddled around a campfire. You probably won’t want to drink more than one in a sitting, but you’ll really savor that one.

24. COCONUT HIWA PORTER, 6% // MAUI BREWING CO., KIHEI, HAWAII

Coconut Hiwa Porter Maui Brewing Co beer
Bryan Berkowitz

Sunny Hawaii may not seem like the typical breeding ground for a robust style like porter, but the addition of toasted coconut to this brew yields a flavor that’s loaded with chocolate, a bit of coffee, and just enough coconut to make each sip feel a tiny bit like a tropical vacation.

25. MELANGE NO. 3, 16.3% // THE BRUERY, PLACENTIA, CALIFORNIA

Melange No. 3 The Bruery beer
The Bruery

What happens when you blend a bourbon-barrel-aged wheat wine, a barrel-aged imperial stout, and a barrel-aged old ale? Magic! You’ll need to round up some friends to help you tackle a 750ml bottle of this gem, but the strong notes of fudge, bourbon, and plums will please any crowd.

26. DUCK-RABBIT BALTIC PORTER, 9% // THE DUCK-RABBIT CRAFT BREWERY, FARMVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA

Duck-Rabbit Baltic Porter beer
The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery

North Carolina’s “dark beer specialist” is the brainchild of a former philosophy teacher and carries a name inspired by philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, so maybe we’re predisposed to like their brainy beers. But even if you set aside their academic pedigree, the Duck-Rabbit’s offerings are smart buys because they’re so tasty. The Baltic Porter may be their best, a showcase of roasted malt, dark fruit, and just enough booze to liven up a chilly night.

27. GREAT LAKES ELIOT NESS AMBER LAGER, 6.1% // GREAT LAKES BREWING CO., CLEVELAND

The craft beer landscape is full of aggressive stouts, IPAs, and sour beers. While we’re clearly fans of those styles, sometimes you want something a little subtler. Great Lakes’s refreshing lager is a little toasty and a little nutty with a clean finish. It’s the perfect pour to cap off a long day of fighting bootleggers.

28. RAMSTEIN WINTER WHEAT, 9.5% // HIGH POINT BREWING COMPANY, BUTLER, NEW JERSEY

Ramstein Winter Wheat High Point Brewing Company beer
High Point Brewing Company

It’s easy to think of wheat beers as thirst-quenching summer refreshers, but Ramstein’s winter seasonal shows just how complex and dark wheat beer can be. This mighty weizenbock pours cola-brown and is loaded with chocolate, dark fruit, and caramel flavors. You’ll never look at wheat beer the same way after your first sip.

29. BOURBON COUNTY BRAND STOUT, 13.80% // GOOSE ISLAND BEER CO., CHICAGO

Bourbon County Brand Stout Goose Island Beer Co, Beer
Goose Island Beer Co.

Aging an imperial stout in barrels that have previously held whiskey can lead to a brew that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Goose Island pioneered barrel-aging beers in the early 1990s, and although the brewery may no longer be independent, its flagship stout is still worth seeking out. Even better, it improves and mellows with age, so stash a second bottle somewhere cool and dark to enjoy in a few years.

30. SAMUEL ADAMS UTOPIAS, 28% // BOSTON BEER COMPANY, BOSTON

Samuel Adams Utopia Boston Beer Company beer
Boston Beer Company

A bottle of Utopias checks in at 28 percent alcohol by volume and can set you back upwards of $200 if you can even find one. The viscous beer inside has spent up to 22 years carefully aging in bourbon, Madeira, cognac, Armagnac, and other wine and spirits barrels before being carefully blended. It all sounds excessive until you taste it. Then it makes perfect sense.

31. TROEGENATOR DOUBLE BOCK, 8.2% // TROEGS INDEPENDENT BREWING, HERSHEY, PENNSYLVANIA

Troegenator Double Bock Troegs Independent Brewing beer
Troegs Independent Brewing

As a style, doppelbock traces its roots back to German monks who would use the malty, sweet beers for sustenance during their Lenten fast. Luckily, today we don’t have to wait for Lent. We can hoist one whenever we want to enjoy their rich flavors of dark fruits and caramel. Pair this Pennsylvania classic with roasted or smoked meat for a divine combo that would make any 17th century monk jealous.

32. DAS WUNDERKIND!, 4.5% // JESTER KING BREWERY, AUSTIN, TEXAS

Das Wunderkind! Jester King Brewery beer
Tyler Malone / The Second Shooter

Tart, dry, and extremely drinkable, this Jester King saison is a blend of sour beer that has been aged in oak barrels with bacterial cultures and fresh beer. The resulting concoction is the perfect brew to take the edge off the heat of Texas or wherever you happen to pop the cap. And if you can’t find this particular bottle, you can’t go wrong with any of Jester King’s other farmhouse and wild ales.

33. HUNAHPU’S IMPERIAL STOUT, 10.2% // CIGAR CITY BREWING, TAMPA, FLORIDA

Hunahpu Imperial Stour beer
Cigar City Brewing

In theory, a stout aged on vanilla beans, cacao nibs, cinnamon, and two types of chili peppers sounds like a conceptual nightmare of clashing flavors. In practice, it’s a memorably decadent and complex experience, like a terrific stout crossed with the best Mexican hot chocolate you’ve ever tasted. It’s only released once a year, but the sublime combo of chocolate and spice is worth a trip to Tampa.

34. GOSE GONE WILD, 4.3% // STILLWATER ARTISANAL, BALTIMORE, MARYLAND

Gose Gone Wild Stillwater Artisanal beer
Brooklyn Brew Shop

Looking for a refreshing summer beer that isn’t another light lager or blonde ale? It’s high time you got into gose, a slightly sour, slightly salty, slightly spicy style that originated in the German city of Leipzig. Stillwater’s version introduces wild yeasts for a funkier take on the style that’s still perfect for a hot summer day.

35. ZOMBIE DUST, 6.2% // 3 FLOYDS BREWING CO, MUNSTER, INDIANA

Zombie Dust isn’t the most heavily hopped pale ale around. It’s not the most bitter, and it doesn’t cram in the most juicy fruit flavors. None of that matters—it’s still the best pale ale you can get your mitts on. The nose is full of amazing orange and tangerine citrus, and each sip offers a master class on how to celebrate hops without overwhelming the palate. It can be hard to track down a bottle, but even if you had to fight an actual zombie to get a six pack, it would be worth it.

36. MOTHER OF ALL STORMS, 14% // PELICAN BREWING, PACIFIC CITY, OREGON

Coastal Oregon brewer Pelican’s English barleywine, Stormwatcher’s Winterfest, is an excellent beer that offers a malty, fruity take on a powerful English style. After spending a year in bourbon barrels, it emerges as a burly, brash version of itself with the volume turned up to 11. The classic English toffee and caramel flavors are still there, but the oak and vanilla notes that slip in from the barrel aging process make the Mother of All Storms a memorable beer that’s worth seeking out.

37. NARRAGANSETT LAGER, 5% // NARRAGANSETT BREWING CO, PAWTUCKET, RHODE ISLAND

Narragansett Lager Narragansett Brewing Co
Narragansett Brewing Co

Lots of great breweries on this list are just a few years old. On the other end of the spectrum is Rhode Island stalwart Narragansett, which traces its heritage all the way back to 1890. Although the brewery cranks out a variety of styles, including a line of H.P. Lovecraft-inspired limited releases with horror themes, its classic lager is a staple of fridges throughout the Northeast. It’s tough to beat a cooler full of pint cans of this clean-finishing lager at a campout, picnic, or barbecue.

38. ALLAGASH COOLSHIP RESURGAM, 6.3% // ALLAGASH BREWING COMPANY, PORTLAND, MAINE

Allagash Coolship Resurgam Beer
Allagash Brewing Company

The brewery’s flagship Allagash White, a pitch-perfect rendition of a Belgian witbier, is widely available and a solid pick. But if you’re willing to put in some legwork, take the time to hunt down a bottle of Coolship Resurgam, a tart, funky ale created using traditional Belgian spontaneous fermentation methods. The brewery uses a huge shallow tub known as a “coolship” to expose unfermented beer to the air overnight. As the beer cools, the natural bacteria in the air enters the brew, which then spends up to three years fermenting in wine barrels. When it emerges, the beer is tart, with notes of peach, apricot, and apple leading into a dry finish.

39. BIGFOOT BARLEYWINE-STYLE ALE, 9.6% // SIERRA NEVADA BREWING CO., CHICO, CALIFORNIA

Bigfoot Barleywine-style ale Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. beer
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

This aggressively hopped barleywine has been a staple of Sierra Nevada’s portfolio since 1983, and it only gets better with age. When fresh, it’s almost punishingly bitter, but there’s enough of a chewy malt backbone to make it an enjoyable sipper. Bigfoot really starts to shine with a few years on it, though. If you can stash a bottle somewhere dark and cool, those piney hops will gradually take a backseat to those malts, and the resulting pour will develop complex flavors of sherry, spice cake, caramel, and dark fruits. Sneak a few bottles into the basement and check back in 2022—you’ll be glad you did.

40. SOUTHERN PECAN NUT BROWN ALE, 4.39% // LAZY MAGNOLIA BREWING COMPANY, KILN, MISSISSIPPI

Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company beer
Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company

Lots of brewers make brown ales that showcase nutty flavors. Lazy Magnolia does them one better by brewing what it calls “the first beer in the world, to our knowledge, made with whole roasted pecans.” Tossing the quintessentially Southern nut into the recipe may sound like a gimmick, but the addition imparts a deep, nutty flavor that really rounds out the slightly sweet brown ale. You won’t mistake it for pecan pie, but you’ll still want to go back for seconds.

41. OLD CHUB, 8% // OSKAR BLUES BREWERY, LONGMONT, COLORADO

Old Chub Oskar Blues Brewery beer
Oskar Blues Brewery

When you need a break from huge hop flavors, a good Scotch ale is just the ticket. And Oskar Blues’ staple Old Chub is a very good Scotch ale. It’s malty and smoky without being overwhelming, sweet and chewy without being cloying. Pair it with rich, roasted foods and doff your cap to the brilliant Scotsmen who pioneered this beautiful style.

42. HEADY TOPPER, 8% // THE ALCHEMIST, WATERBURY, VERMONT

You can’t look at many “World’s Best Beer” lists without seeing the iconic imperial IPA from Vermont’s the Alchemist. With so much buzz surrounding the silver-and-black pint cans, can the beer inside possibly live up to the hype? You bet. If anything, Heady Topper exceeds most reasonable expectations. It’s a dank, piney hop bomb that doesn’t feel gratuitously bitter. It packs quite a punch without feeling boozy. And for such a celebrated IPA, it’s surprisingly balanced. If you only drive to small-town Vermont for one beer, make it this one.

43. EVERETT, 7.5% // HILL FARMSTEAD BREWERY, GREENSBORO, VERMONT

However, if you have time to make a second beer pilgrimage on your swing through Vermont, you can’t miss the just-as-celebrated, just-as-tasty wares of nearby Hill Farmstead. The farm brewery has mastered everything from IPAs to saisons to wild ales to imperial stouts, but for our money, their chocolate-and-coffee-laden porter is the standout.

44. TERRAPIN MOO-HOO CHOCOLATE MILK STOUT, 6% // TERRAPIN BEER CO., ATHENS, GEORGIA

Terrapin Moo-Hoo Chocolate Milk Stout beer
Terrapin Beer Co.

Adult life is tragically short on moments in which it’s socially acceptable to gulp down a glass of chocolate milk. Terrapin’s winter seasonal may not quite scratch your childhood dairy yearnings, but it’s the next best thing. There’s just enough chocolate to really round out the classic sweetness of a milk stout, and although you won’t want to dunk a cookie in it, you’ll probably want to order a second round.

45. KUHNHENN RASPBERRY EISBOCK, 15.5% // KUHNHENN BREWING CO., WARREN, MICHIGAN

Kuhnhenn’s website classifies this highly sought-after rarity as an “experimental high-gravity fruit beer,” but we’re content just to call it delicious. A recipe that includes fresh raspberries and raspberry juice yields a beer that’s syrupy, sweet, strong, and incredibly complex without being cloying. Each sip feels like it’s straddling the line between beer and raspberry cordial, so if you’re a raspberry fan, this is one you won’t want to miss.

46. MIDAS TOUCH, 9% // DOGFISH HEAD CRAFT BREWERY, MILTON, DELAWARE

Midas Touch Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Developing a good beer recipe can take time. In this case, the timeline ran to 2700 years. Dogfish Head partnered with molecular archaeologist Patrick McGovern of the University of Pennsylvania to brew this beer based on findings from a Turkish tomb that dates back to around 700 BCE. The tomb is thought to have contained the historical King Midas or his father. The archaeological evidence gave rise to a beer that drinks like a sweet hybrid of beer, mead, and white wine. It may not give you the golden touch, but you’ll still feel like a king after a glass.

47. DOUBLE DRY HOPPED DOUBLE MOSAIC DREAM, 8.5% // OTHER HALF BREWING CO., BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

Brooklyn’s Other Half may only be three years old, but the small brewery near the Gowanus Canal cranks out a dizzying array of top-notch IPAs. Even though the brewery’s offerings rotate on a near-weekly basis, the double-dry-hopped variant of its Mosaic-hopped imperial IPA has already become a standby, and for good reason. The addition of lupulin powder to the recipe elevates an already great beer into something even better, with lots of mango and pineapple flavors bursting through.

48. RUMPKIN, 17.5% // AVERY BREWING CO., DENVER

Rumpkin Avery Brewing Co.
Avery Brewing Co.

Many brewers create a fall seasonal that tastes less like a pumpkin beer and more like pumpkin pie spices dumped into a beer. Avery takes a better approach, using roasted local pumpkins, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger to create a pumpkin brew, then aging it in rum barrels. The sweet, oaky flavors of the rum barrel are the perfect complement to the pumpkin and spice, resulting in an extremely potent beer that’s perfect for autumn sipping.

49. BLACKBERRY, 6% // UPLAND BREWING COMPANY, BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA

Blackberry Upland Brewing Company beer
Upland Brewing Co.

Indiana and Belgium don’t have a lot in common at first glance, but the Hoosier State’s Upland Brewing crafts sour, wood-aged fruit ales that would make many Belgian lambic brewers jealous. Upland has created exotic fruit sours using offbeat ingredients like kiwi and persimmon, but our favorite is the one made with whole local blackberries. The purple, tart beer is perfect for those days when you need a sour, fruity beer but don’t want to trek all the way to Brussels.

50. PM DAWN, 9% // TRILLIUM BREWING COMPANY, BOSTON

Pm Dawn Trillium beer
Trillium Brewing Co.

Not just any brewery can make a stout infused with cold-brewed coffee and have it come out tasting like the beer version of a café mocha. Even fewer can make a stout that shares its name with a beloved musical act and have it live up to expectations. Luckily for us, Boston’s Trillium Brewing is up to the task. It will only take one glass for you to feel like you’ve been set adrift on memory bliss.

14 Secrets of McDonald's Employees

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

While there’s virtually no end to the number of fast food options for people seeking a quick meal, none have entered the public consciousness quite like McDonald’s. Originally a barbecue shop with a limited menu when it was founded by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald in the 1940s, the Golden Arches have grown into a franchised behemoth with more than 36,000 locations worldwide.

Staffing those busy kitchens and registers are nearly 2 million McDonald's employees. To get a better idea of what many consider to be the most popular entry-level job in the nation—staff members on the floor make an average of $9 an hour—we asked several workers to share details of their experiences with errant ice cream machines, drive-through protocols, and special requests. Here’s what they had to say about life behind the counter.

1. McDonald's employees can't always deliver fast food all that fast.

While McDonald’s and other fast-service restaurants pride themselves on getting customers on their way, some menu items just don’t lend themselves to record service times. According to Bob, an assistant store manager at a McDonald’s in the Midwest, pies take an average of 10 to 12 minutes to prepare; grilled chicken, 10 minutes; and biscuits for Egg McMuffins, eight to 10 minutes. In the mood for something light, like a grilled chicken and salad? That will take a few minutes, too. Bob says salads are pre-made with lettuce but still need to have chicken and other ingredients added.

The labor-intensive nature of assembling ingredients is part of why the chain has more recently shied away from menu items with too many ingredients. “We are trained to go as fast down the line as we can, and if we have to stop to make something that has 10 ingredients, it tends to slow things down,” Bob tells Mental Floss. “Corporate has realized this and has taken many of these items off in recent years, [like] McWraps, Clubhouse, more recently the Smokehouse and mushroom and Swiss and moved to items that can go a lot quicker.”

2. McDonald's workers wish you’d stop asking for fries without salt.

A serving of McDonald's French fries is pictured
Joerg Koch, AFP/Getty Images

A common “trick” for customers seeking fresh fries is to ask for them without salt. The idea is that fries that have been under a heating lamp will already be salted and that the employee in the kitchen will need to put down a new batch in the fryer. This does work, but customers can also just ask for fresh fries. It’s less of a hassle and may even save employees some discomfort.

“People can ask for fresh fries and it's actually way easier to do fresh fries rather than no-salt fries,” Andy, an employee who’s worked at three different McDonald’s locations in the Midwest, tells Mental Floss. “For those, we have to pour the fries onto a tray from the fryer so they don't come in contact with salt. It can get awkward sometimes getting everything into position, especially if you have a lot of people working in close proximity and it's busy, so I've had some scalded hands a couple of times trying to get fries out in a timely way.”

3. McDonald's workers have to pay careful attention to the order of ingredients.

McDonald’s is pretty specific about how their burgers and other items are supposed to be assembled, with layers—meat, cheese, sauce—arranged in a specific order. If they mess it up, customers can notice. “In some cases it has a big impact,” Sam, a department manager and nine-year veteran of the restaurant in Canada, tells Mental Floss. “Like placing the cheese between the patties with a McDouble. If they don’t put the cheese between the patties, the cheese won’t melt.”

4. There’s a reason McDonald’s employees ask you to park at the drive-through.

A McDonald's customer pulls up to the drive-thru window
Tim Boyle, Getty Images

After ordering at the drive-through window, you may be slightly puzzled when a cashier asks you to pull into one of the designated parking spots. That’s because employees are measured on how quickly they process cars at the drive-through. If your order is taking a long time to prepare, they’ll take you out of the queue to keep the line moving. “My store has sensors in the drive-through that actually tell us exactly how long you are at each spot in the drive-through,” Bob says. “We get measured based on something we call OEPE. Order end, present end. [That measures] from the second that your tires move from the speaker until your back tires pass over the sensor on the present window. My store is expected to be under two minutes.” If an order will take longer than that, you'll be asked to park.

5. The McDonald's drive-through employees can hear everything going on in your car.

While the quality of the speakers at a drive-through window can vary, it’s best to assume employees inside the restaurant can hear everything happening in your car even before you place an order. “The speaker is activated by the metal in the car, so as soon as you drive up, the speaker turns on in our headset,” Andy says. “We can hear everything, and I do mean everything. Loud music, yelling at your kids to shut up, etc.”

6. The employees at McDonald’s like their regulars.

Customers eat inside of a McDonald's with an order of French fries in the foreground
Chris Hondros, Getty Images

With hot coffee, plenty of tables, Wi-Fi, and newspapers, McDonald’s can wind up being a popular hang-out for repeat customers. “[We have] a ton of regulars who come into my store,” Bob says. “I'd say at least 75 percent of my daily customers know us all by name and we know them all, too. It makes it nice and makes the service feel a lot more personal when a customer can walk into my location, and we can look them in the eye and say, ‘Hey Mark! Getting the usual today?’ and we've already started making his coffee exactly how he takes it.”

7. McDonald’s staff get prank calls.

Unless they’re trying to cater an event, customers usually don’t have any reason to phone a McDonald’s. When the phone rings, employees brace themselves. In addition to sometimes being asked a legitimate question like when the store closes, Sam says his store gets a lot of prank calls. “Sometimes it’s people asking about directions to Wendy’s,” he says. “A lot of inappropriate ones. Most are pretty lame.”

8. For a McDonald’s worker, the ice cream machine is like automated stress.

A McDonald's customer is handed an ice cream cone at the drive-thru window
iStock/jax10289

The internet is full of stories of frustrated McDonald’s customers who believe the chain’s ice cream machines are always inoperable. That’s not entirely true, but the machine does experience a lot of downtime. According to Bob, that’s because it’s always in need of maintenance. “The thing is, it is a very sensitive machine,” he says. “It's not made to be making 50 cones in a row, or 10 shakes at a time. It takes time for the mix to freeze to a proper consistency. It also requires a daily heat mode, [where] the whole machine heats up to about 130 degrees or so. The heat mode typically takes about four hours to complete, so you try to schedule it during the slowest time.” Stores also need to take the machine entirely apart every one to two weeks to clean it thoroughly.

Bob adds that the machine’s O-rings can crack or tear, rendering the unit inoperable. Seasoned workers can tell if a unit is faulty by the consistency of the shakes or ice cream coming out, and sometimes by the noises it makes.

9. McDonald's employees don't mind if you order a grilled cheese.

Contrary to rumor, there’s no “secret menu” at McDonald’s. But that doesn’t mean you can’t sometimes snag something not listed on the board. Andy says a lot of people order a grilled cheese sandwich. “I've made many a grilled cheese before,” he says. But it’s not without consequences. “Sometimes it can get a bit risky doing it because the bun toaster wasn't designed to make grilled cheeses so sometimes you get some burnt buns or cheese or the cheese sticks inside and it slows down the other buns from getting out on time so that causes more burnt buns.”

Another common request is for customers to ask for a McDouble dressed as a Big Mac, with added Big Mac sauce and shredded lettuce. “I think [it’s] a way more practical way to eat a Big Mac since there's less bun in the way, and it's also way cheaper even if you do get charged for Mac sauce.”

10. McDonald’s workers recommend always checking your order.

A McDonald's employee serves an order
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Nothing stings worse than the revelation that an employee has forgotten part of your food order. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not because the employees are being lazy or inattentive. According to Bob, it’s simply due to the volume of customers a typical location has to process in a given day. “We are human,” he says. “Mistakes do happen. We always feel terrible when they do but when we serve 1000-plus people a day, it's bound to happen.”

Bob recommends checking your bag before leaving the restaurant and not taking it personally if there’s an issue. “Be nice to us if you have a problem,” he says. “It's a huge difference between coming to us and saying, ‘Hey, I seem to be missing a fry from my bag,’ and ‘You bastards didn't give me my fries!’” If you want to check your bag at the drive-through, though, he recommends trying to pull ahead so cars behind you can move forward.

11. McDonald's employees don't recommend the grilled chicken.

If a menu item isn’t all that popular, it can wind up experiencing a low rate of turnover. Of all the food at McDonald’s, the most neglected might be the grilled chicken. Because it doesn't move quickly, workers find that it can turn unappetizing in a hurry. “That stuff has a supposed shelf life of 60 minutes in the heated cabinet, but it dries out so quickly that even if it's within an acceptable time frame, it looks like burnt rubber, and probably tastes like it, too,” Andy says.

12. Golden Arches employees aren’t crazy about Happy Meal collectors.

A McDonald's Happy Meal is pictured
David Morris, Getty Images

Happy Meals are boxed combos that come with a toy inside. Usually, it’s tied into some kind of movie promotion. That means both Happy Meal collectors and fans of a given entertainment property can swarm stores looking for the product. “The biggest pain involving the Happy Meals is the people who collect them,” Bob says. “I personally hate trying to dig through the toys looking for one specific one. We usually only have one to three toys on hand. It's especially a pain in the butt during big toys events such as the Avengers one we just had. There was like 26 different toys, and some customers get really mad when you don't have the one that they want.”

And no, employees don’t usually take home leftover toys. They’ve saved for future use as a substitute in case a location runs out of toys for their current promotion.

13. McDonald's employees can’t mess with Monopoly.

The McDonald’s Monopoly promotion has been a perennial success for the chain, with game pieces affixed to drink cups and fry containers. But if you think employees spend their spare time peeling the pieces off cups looking for prizes, think again. Following a widely-publicized scandal in 2000 that saw an employee of the company that printed the pieces intercepting them for his own gain, the chain has pretty strict rules about the promotion. “Monopoly pieces and things like them get sent back to corporate,” Bob says. “We aren't allowed to touch them, open them, or redeem them as employees.”

14. One McDonald's worker admits there have been sign mishaps.

A McDonald's sign is pictured
Tim Boyle, Getty Images

Many McDonald’s locations sport signs under the arches advertising specials or promotions. Some are analog, with letters that need to be mounted and replaced. Others have LED screens. Either way, there can be mistakes. “I've never seen anyone mess around with the letters,” Andy says. “But I do remember one time we were serving the Angus Burgers and the ‘G’ fell off of the word ‘Angus.’ Good times.”

The Reason Why It's Technically Against State Rules to Sell LaCroix in Massachusetts

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

No one is quite certain what goes into LaCroix (“La-croy”), the carbonated water that’s become a popular alternative to soft drinks. The zero-calorie beverage comes in several distinctive fruit flavors that the drink’s parent company, National Beverage, has described as being derived from “natural essence oils.” That highly secretive process is believed to be the result of heating fruits and vegetables, then making a concentrate out of the vapor.

To try and crack the mystery, Consumer Reports recently approached officials in Massachusetts with a public records request for documentation relating to LaCroix. Massachusetts is one of the few states requiring manufacturers of carbonated water to obtain a permit and submit water quality tests to sell their product.

The verdict? Consumer Reports still isn’t quite sure what goes into LaCroix. But it might be technically against state regulations to sell it in Massachusetts. That’s because the state has no records on file for the mystery refreshment.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health could not find a permit for LaCroix, and there were no water quality test results on hand, either. Without those documents, the drink should technically not be for sale in the state. After noticing the oversight, Massachusetts sent a request to National Beverage for the necessary information. If the company fails to comply, the state could end up fining them or banning the sale of the drink. A spokesperson for National Beverage told Consumer Reports the company intended to comply with the request.

Why does the state need any information at all? Thanks to some bureaucratic quibbling, carbonated water products are treated differently than bottled water by regulatory agencies. The Food and Drug Administration considers carbonated beverages like seltzer and flavored sparkling water to fall under the heading of soft drinks. While the FDA mandates certain manufacturing standards for those drinks, it doesn’t apply the same rules as it does for bottled water, which is expected to adhere to strict rules about contaminants and quality testing. That leaves certain states like Massachusetts to conduct their own quality assessments.

There’s no guarantee that such testing will divulge LaCroix’s secret to their flavoring process, which is likely to remain a mystery.

[h/t Food & Wine]

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