With all of the crap that happened in 2020 I struggled to write diverse content on Hoppy Boston, my goal to write more features and fewer beer reviews failed miserably. Fortunately I still drank a ton of new-to-me beers, and many of the best and most interesting beers I reviewed on the blog. I thought a proper way to wrap up the year that felt like it would never end, and move onto a better 2021 (hopefully, not a great start), would be a wrap up article on the best beers I reviewed this year. I chose to rank the beers, all of these are great and the rankings are somewhat arbitrary, but I thought it would be fun to give them a general ranking. Regardless, these are all local beers you should try! Links in the beer titles lead to the full reviews.
20. Tributary Pale Ale: A balanced pale ale with a full burst of hoppy flavor, the kind of beer you always want to have in your fridge. It’s great to see Tributary beers available in Massachusetts.
19. Brewery Extrava Tripel: Brewery Extrava is focused on Belgian style ales, and this quintessential abbey style is one of their strongest beers (in terms of quality and ABV). A complex mix of yeasty esters and rich malt that is deceptively easy drinking for a big beer.
18. Mayflower In The Darkness Bind Them: I am a giant nerd in many ways, beer is just one of them, so making a rich and flavorful imperial stout with a Tolkien reference in the title is a great way to make sure I am trying the beer.
17. Lamplighter Cloud City: My nerdom continues and absolutely also applies to NEIPAs with Star Wars references. Lamplighter makes a large number of stellar NEIPAs, and Cloud City is worth seeking out.
16. Backlash Fenway: One of the last beers Backlash released before shutting down, and I hope they bring it back now that the brewery is making beer again. A bold, flavorful and unique beer that does a good job representing the eclectic neighborhood it is named after.
15. Shoveltown Flyaway: Shoveltown makes great beer in a diverse set of styles, and their flagship IPA is quickly becoming a staple for me, tons of flavor and very smooth.
14. OEC Coolship Lager: I was excited when OEC beers started landing in Massachusetts, and loved this open fermented pale lager, which gains an added layer of flavor from the extended conditioning process.
13. Zero Gravity Oktoberfest: I love Oktoberfest beers but tend to stick to a few favorite versions of the style that are exceptional. Add this beer to that list, full malt flavor without being sweet, some hops for balance, clean and approachable.
12. Barewolf Eat My Schwarz: I love dark lager styles, especially in the winter, and this schwarzbier is excellent, loads of roasted malt in a clean and easy-drinking lager. Bonus points for the Simpsons reference!
11. Amory’s Tomb Kettle Hole: Amory’s Tomb launched with a focus on saisons, complex but easy drinking and expressive ales. While they have branched out into a variety of other styles, their saisons are standout, especially this interesting and approachable saison Kettle Hole.
10. Notch Tmavy: Notch makes great beer across a wide range of low ABV styles, but they really standout when they brew underappreciated and classic European lager styles. This Czech dark lager is delicious and sessionable, perfect for a liter mug.
9. Schilling Erastus: I love tripels, the style is overlooked by far too many beer fans. It is no surprise that Schilling, a brewery that specializes in traditional beers from continental Europe, makes an excellent version.
8. Redemption Rock War Castle: Redemption Rock makes great beer and has a must-visit taproom, and one of the first beers they started to can on a regular basis is this NEIPA chock-full of fruity hops.
7. Night Shift Fluffinity: My favorite release in Night Shift’s “Fluff” series of NEIPAs. Just tons of hop flavor and pungent aroma in a well-crafted package that will please any hop-head.
6. Small Change Night Windows: Small Change likes to brew beers in under-represented styles, and they hit it out of the park with this porter. Rich dark malts, a little hop bite, smooth and delicious.
5. Lost Shoe Size 10: Lost Shoe makes a wide range of varieties of beer and their Belgian beers are consistently excellent, especially this quadrupel with a chewy malt body and loads of flavor.
4. Jack’s Abby Dry-Hopped Post Shift: Hoppy/dry-hopped pilsners can be controversial, but convince any pilsner-purist to try this beer and watch their attitude change. Loaded with delicious hop flavor without overwhelming the light lager body.
3. Medusa Soft Machine: My top NEIPA of the year, Medusa was a little late to adopt the sub-style but the versions they make are stellar, led by this hop-bomb.
2. Burlington Mahogany and Tweed: I love creative barrel-aged beers and this maple barleywine aged in cognac barrels certainly fits the bill. A complex and boozy sipper perfect for a cold winter evening.
- Austin Street Patina: The only beer to score a perfect 5/5 on Hoppy Boston this year. One of my favorite American pale ales, plenty of hop flavor and aroma but well balanced and incredibly easy drinking. I am so excited to find Austin Street beers in MA now, and not surprised that they tend to sell out quickly!
And that is it for 2020. Despite everything, I enjoyed lots of awesome beer, and I hope to have another great list of beers you need to try in 2021.