Here are 10 of Earth’s best beers in a variety of styles that should be easy to procure around town and will make for fitting toasts to the L.A. beer scene:
West Coast IPA - Ballast Point Sculpin
A style born in the Pacific Northwest and perfected in California, there are few better examples of layered hop flavors than a fresh Sculpin IPA. Tropical fruit flavors and aromas abound in this not-too-bitter IPA, and it’s a refreshing change from the typical pine-and-citrus hop profile of classic West Coast IPAs.
Pale Ale - Drakes 1500
Sierra Nevada’s pale ale was one of the beers that launched the craft revolution, and the style remains one of the most popular, and drinkable, examples of craft brewing. San Leandro’s Drakes Brewing makes a dry hopped example that is floral and dry.
Saison - La Brasserie Dupont Saison Dupont
Farmhouse styles have been surging in popularity with American craft brewers, and Saison Dupont is perhaps the defining example of the dry, spicy and earthy flavors common to the farmhouse beers.
Stout - AleSmith Speedway Stout
Big, bold and roasty, this imperial stout strikes an uncommon balance between volume of flavor and drinkability. San Diego’s AleSmith doesn’t get a lot of hype, but they constantly make some of the best beers in California (and by extension, the world).
Belgian Abbey Ale - Orval
A beer that defies classification, this pale, complex Trappist ale is brewed by monks and specially conditioned with wild yeast added to each bottle. This is an example of how great beer can be.
Belgian Quadruple - St. Bernardus Abt 12
Often cited as a more affordable and procurable alternative to the rarely seen Westvleteren XII. Rich, complex and potent, the Abt 12 is one of the highest rated beers in the world, and it’s brew made for celebrations.
Pilsner - Victory Prima Pils
A style that often gets overlooked by craft beer fans, pilsners are not the watery and flavorless lagers that America’s giant breweries claim. The best examples of the style are balanced and dry with plenty of hop aroma and a clean, crisp finish. Basically everything you could want in a beer. This example from Pennsylvania is not shy with the hops, and it can turn even die-hard IPA lovers into fans of the golden lagers.
Biere de Champagne - Brouwerij Bosteels DeuS
Also known as a Biere Brut, this relatively new style goes through a tedious process to ensure clarity and a sparkling effervescence. It’s remarkably un-beer-like, but popping one of these bottles is undeniably festive and a great way to get your wine-drinking friends to give beer a new look.
American Wild Ale - Russian River Supplication
Santa Rosa’s Russian River Brewing Co. produces some of the most lauded brews in the country, and Supplication is just one of the “-tion” variety beers that provide a benchmark for American sour producers. It’s brown ale that’s aged in pinot noir barrels with cherries for up to 18 months, and the result is nearly indescribably delicious.
Gueuze - Gueuzerie Tilquin Oude Gueuze
The most refined and mysterious of the sour beers, gueuze is a blend of aged and fresh lambics, and the master blenders of Belgium are renowned for their wizardry with barrels and yeasts. Gueuze from Tilquin sits at the intersection of complexity, accessibility and affordability, and the funky, tart, complex beer can turn skeptics into lifelong sour-heads.