Top Ten Beers We Tasted in 2021

We have a few hours left before we close out 2021 and welcome in 2022! Along with our regular tasting this week (at Gilman Brewing Company), we are taking a look at some of the best beers we tasted this year.

The final list ranking take all sorts of things into account, not just the final score we originally gave it. Also included is the desire to drink a certain beer again and the availability.

So, go get your favorite alcoholic (or non-alcoholic) beverage, sit down, kick back, and enjoy our retrospective on the Best Beers of 2021!

If you would like to read along while we ramble, you can listen here:


Our first beer is…


10) Japanese Green Tea IPA – Stone Brewing Company – Napa, CA

ABV: 10.1%
WHAT WE GAVE IT: 4.4 out of 5

LOOK: Gold and somewhat clear

SCENT: Green tea herbs, some citrus

MOUTHFEEL/TASTE: Slightly thick mouthfeel. Green tea herbal flavor is upfront along with malt and alcohol. An interesting and bold choice for a brew.

FINAL REFLECTIONS: Stone Brewing claims to have released this ten years ago but I didn’t see until this year when it was included in their “12 Days of IPA” variety pack. The unusual flavor offering and high ABV attracted me outright, so this was a must-try for us. This is an outstanding beer. Danielle liked it slightly better than I did but both of us enjoyed this brew. The only downside is that Stone doesn’t seem to have it regularly available and, being a 10% ABV, this isn’t a casual beer, which is why it’s in this position on the list.




9) Barrel & Bean – Allagash Brewing Company – Portland, Maine

ABV: 9.6%
WHAT WE GAVE IT: 4.1 out of 5

LOOK: Gold with some haze

SCENT: Dark coffee

MOUTHFEEL/TASTE: Coffee and bourbon with a thicker than normal mouthfeel.

FINAL REFLECTIONS: An excellent winter ale. This would go great with a Christmas or Thanksgiving get-together. Outstanding. The coffee flavor is nicely off-set by the bourbon booze taste. A little smoky as well and you can definitely taste the alcohol. Only reason it’s not higher is that it’s not a regular drinker, being that it seems to be aiming toward a theme.





8) Michelada Originale – Tio Rodrigo – San Luis Obispo, CA

ABV: 4.5%
WHAT WE GAVE IT: 4 out of 5

LOOK: Light Amber

SCENT: Light tomato juice, almost a white wine scent

MOUTHFEEL/TASTE: Spice is so upfront, it practically kicks you in the face. Complex flavor with a darker finish. Could benefit from some lemon or lime to really complete it.

FINAL REFLECTIONS: Still, this is the best Chelada on the market, better than any other Chelada you might find. Only reason it’s not higher? It’s not really a beer and would you want to keep drinking something that tastes like a Bloody Mary when you want a simple beer?





7) Two Seam IPA – Strike Brewing Company – San Jose, CA

san jose breweries

ABV: 6.5%
WHAT WE GAVE IT: 4 out of 5

LOOK: Gold and slightly hazy

SCENT: Citrus and pine

MOUTHFEEL/TASTE: Slightly thick mouthfeel. Refreshing, lots of citrus and very juicy orange. Offset by dry hops and pine.

FINAL REFLECTIONS: Danielle believes that this is an easygoing IPA that’s “crushable”. I don’t necessarily agree. I think you have to be at a 4 or 5 ABV to be crushable. In any case, very nice IPA with a lot of flavor. Not too aggressive. It’s very dry going down. All in all, nicely balanced IPA. The only reason it’s not higher is because there are other IPA’s on this list that are slightly better. Still, this is one of our regular drinkers.





6) FEAR.MOVIE.LIONS – Stone Brewing Company – Napa, CA

ABV: 8.5%
WHAT WE GAVE IT: 4.5 out of 5

LOOK: Dark gold, bordering on amber

SCENT: Pine, carmel, resin hops

MOUTHFEEL/TASTE: Slight thick mouthfeel. All the flavor I mentioned above is perfectly balanced and refreshing.

FINAL REFLECTIONS: FML (HA!) is one of the best beers Stone has ever produced and one of the best I have ever had. It has a great balance of hops, carmel, malt, and pine with the big bite Stone is known for at the back end. This beer is a meditative revelation. Outstanding.





5) Buenaveza Salt & Lime Lager – Stone Brewing Company – Napa, CA


ABV: 4.7%
WHAT WE GAVE IT: 4 out of 5

LOOK: Light gold, crystal clear…slightly foamy head that dissipates after a few moments.

SCENT: You get salt and lime right off the bat, some citrus if you try hard enough.

MOUTHFEEL/TASTE: Lots of salt and lime, just like the nose. Very nice mouthfeel with a thin(ner) Lager feel. Slightly malty.

FINAL REFLECTIONS: I didn’t think I’d like Buenaveza mainly because I usually like when a beer speaks for itself and I’m not fond of breweries tossing in additives you’d toss in a beer anyhow (eg: lime, orange slice, etc.) but this is fantastic and has been a beer that’s been one of our summer go-to drinks. It’s very easy-going, very crushable. You can drink a whole six pack and barely feel a thing.





4) Longboard Island Lager – Kona Brewing Company – Kona, Hawaii

kona brewing

ABV: 4.5%
WHAT WE GAVE IT: 4.5 out of 5

LOOK: Gold and clear with a head that dissipates quick

SCENT: Carmel/honey wheat and corn

MOUTHFEEL/TASTE: A lot of body for a lager…nice, sweet wheat/honey flavor with just a hint of citrus on the end.

FINAL REFLECTIONS: This is one of my most favorite beers of all-time. It’s a work of art. Complex and full of body for a lager. I love the sweet, tropical scent almost reminiscent of summer with sunscreen and flowers because of that sweet carmel/honey nose. I love the citrus on the back end. Danielle says it is a fine beer — but not her favorite. Though, she notes, that this would go great with tacos, burgers or, even a BBQ. The best all-around lager.





3) Scorpion Bowl IPA – Stone Brewing Company – Napa, California

ABV: 7.5%
WHAT WE GAVE IT: 4.1 out of 5

LOOK: Copper color, crystal clear

SCENT: Fruit on the nose, same as the last beer

MOUTHFEEL/TASTE: You can actually taste the booze once you get past the fruit juice element of it. There IS bitterness but it’s more balanced than the Vengeful Spirit. Mouthfeel is about the same as the others in this pack. Lots of carbonation with an excellent finish.

FINAL REFLECTIONS: Very nice fruit/hops combo. This was the big star of Stone Brewing’s Tiki Escape pack of the last couple years and it still shines here. The combo of tropical fruit, bitter hops, and alcohol is just brilliant. Another winner from Stone and the best “tropical” IPA they make.





2) Allagash White – Allagash Brewing Company – Portland, Maine

allagash brewing company

ABV: 5.2%
WHAT WE GAVE IT: 4.9 out of 5

LOOK: Gold and hazy

SCENT: Wheat, coriander, spice

MOUTHFEEL/TASTE: Thick mouthfeel. Citrus on the back end with coriander, wheat, and spices on the front. Very crisp.

FINAL REFLECTIONS: This beer is just an all-timer. An amazing mix of wheat and spice with no real aggressive bite. It’s amazingly smooth with a wonderfully brisk flavor. This is one of two weekly beers for us.





1) Tomorrow’s Clear – Dust Bowl Brewing Company – Turlock, California

ABV: 7.3%
WHAT WE GAVE IT: 4 out of 5

LOOK: Extremely clear golden color.

SCENT: Rich tropical fruit and citrus on the nose.

MOUTHFEEL/TASTE: This beer has a rich fruit flavor, nicely offset by the IPA bitterness, with a light, yet creamy finish.

FINAL REFLECTIONS: What an outstanding IPA this is. Flavors don’t all completely shine through but this is very good. You could mistake it for something middle-of-the-road or lighter but you’d be wrong. Some alcohol does sneak through. One of my most favorite summer beers and indicative of our state.


Have a happy new year and we will be back next year with all new reviews!

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