Best Beers of the Year

Food & Wine’s tasting room pro, Megan Krigbaum, reveals the year's most exceptional beers.

Wandering Star Mild Heart, English Dark Mild Ale
About once a year, it seems, I come across a brew that tastes like a beer version of a chocolate milkshake. The beer is rich and malty, but remains somehow light on the palate.

Anchor Brewing Humming Ale
There are days that just call for a beer — just a straight-up refreshing, slightly bitter beer like this one. Released for the first timeabout a year ago, it’s fresh and citrusy and relatively low in alcohol, making it a true everyday brew.

Magnolia Kalifornia Kolsch
From a spectacular brewery in San Francisco, this light, bright, zesty kolsch is as refreshing to beer lovers as Gatorade is to marathoners.

Short’s Brewing Company Bellaire Brown
In August, I spent my annual week in northern Michigan and made my first visit to Short’s in Bellaire. After tasting through about a dozen different brews, this simple, classic brown emerged as my favorite. I just wish I could get it here in NYC.

Köstritzer Schwarzbier
I’ve been really hooked on black lagers this year, and this German one — although not new at all — was new to me in January. It’s everything I love about these deceptive beers: It looks dark and hefty, but instead it’s just simple, malty, and clean… and way too easy to drink.

— Megan Krigbaum, Associate Wine Editor, Food & Wine

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The 12 Best Stout Beers to Drink in 2021

Sarah Freeman is a freelance writer based in Chicago, specializing in beer, spirits, food and restaurants.

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products you can learn more about our review process here . We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

It was a pint of Guinness that opened my eyes to what a beer could be. Before then, “beer” was the amber stuff that came out of a keg in someone's backyard. But everything changed while I was sitting at the bar of a pub in Ireland, sipping this rich, creamy liquid that was somehow reminiscent of dark chocolate and freshly baked bread and a hot cup of coffee at the same time. That beer was my gateway stout and since that first one, the category has changed as much as I have as a beer drinker.

“Stouts are timeless because they are so versatile,” says Sarah Flora, a homebrewer and founder of Flora Brewing. “There’s a stout for every occasion: cozying up by a fire with a 10% ABV imperial that’s going to put you to bed or mowing the lawn with a 5% ABV Irish stout that you can drink all day.” While there is a time and place for the classics, the beer world has been most recently infatuated with bigger and bolder beers, such as the barrel-aged or pastry stout or even barrel-aged pastry stout.

While a trip down today’s beer aisle can easily result in a four-pack of s’mores beers or a six-pack of something that could be mistaken for chocolate milk, it’s important to remember where the style started. “When I reach for a stout, I am looking for a beer that has incredible depth of flavor and complexity from the wide array of kilned and roasted malts that make this style what it is,” says Averie Swanson, master cicerone and founder of Keeping Together. So whether you want a simple sipper or something that can act as an after-dinner treat, these are some of the best stout beers to savor right now.


The 12 Best Stout Beers to Drink in 2021

Sarah Freeman is a freelance writer based in Chicago, specializing in beer, spirits, food and restaurants.

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products you can learn more about our review process here . We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

It was a pint of Guinness that opened my eyes to what a beer could be. Before then, “beer” was the amber stuff that came out of a keg in someone's backyard. But everything changed while I was sitting at the bar of a pub in Ireland, sipping this rich, creamy liquid that was somehow reminiscent of dark chocolate and freshly baked bread and a hot cup of coffee at the same time. That beer was my gateway stout and since that first one, the category has changed as much as I have as a beer drinker.

“Stouts are timeless because they are so versatile,” says Sarah Flora, a homebrewer and founder of Flora Brewing. “There’s a stout for every occasion: cozying up by a fire with a 10% ABV imperial that’s going to put you to bed or mowing the lawn with a 5% ABV Irish stout that you can drink all day.” While there is a time and place for the classics, the beer world has been most recently infatuated with bigger and bolder beers, such as the barrel-aged or pastry stout or even barrel-aged pastry stout.

While a trip down today’s beer aisle can easily result in a four-pack of s’mores beers or a six-pack of something that could be mistaken for chocolate milk, it’s important to remember where the style started. “When I reach for a stout, I am looking for a beer that has incredible depth of flavor and complexity from the wide array of kilned and roasted malts that make this style what it is,” says Averie Swanson, master cicerone and founder of Keeping Together. So whether you want a simple sipper or something that can act as an after-dinner treat, these are some of the best stout beers to savor right now.


The 12 Best Stout Beers to Drink in 2021

Sarah Freeman is a freelance writer based in Chicago, specializing in beer, spirits, food and restaurants.

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products you can learn more about our review process here . We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

It was a pint of Guinness that opened my eyes to what a beer could be. Before then, “beer” was the amber stuff that came out of a keg in someone's backyard. But everything changed while I was sitting at the bar of a pub in Ireland, sipping this rich, creamy liquid that was somehow reminiscent of dark chocolate and freshly baked bread and a hot cup of coffee at the same time. That beer was my gateway stout and since that first one, the category has changed as much as I have as a beer drinker.

“Stouts are timeless because they are so versatile,” says Sarah Flora, a homebrewer and founder of Flora Brewing. “There’s a stout for every occasion: cozying up by a fire with a 10% ABV imperial that’s going to put you to bed or mowing the lawn with a 5% ABV Irish stout that you can drink all day.” While there is a time and place for the classics, the beer world has been most recently infatuated with bigger and bolder beers, such as the barrel-aged or pastry stout or even barrel-aged pastry stout.

While a trip down today’s beer aisle can easily result in a four-pack of s’mores beers or a six-pack of something that could be mistaken for chocolate milk, it’s important to remember where the style started. “When I reach for a stout, I am looking for a beer that has incredible depth of flavor and complexity from the wide array of kilned and roasted malts that make this style what it is,” says Averie Swanson, master cicerone and founder of Keeping Together. So whether you want a simple sipper or something that can act as an after-dinner treat, these are some of the best stout beers to savor right now.


The 12 Best Stout Beers to Drink in 2021

Sarah Freeman is a freelance writer based in Chicago, specializing in beer, spirits, food and restaurants.

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products you can learn more about our review process here . We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

It was a pint of Guinness that opened my eyes to what a beer could be. Before then, “beer” was the amber stuff that came out of a keg in someone's backyard. But everything changed while I was sitting at the bar of a pub in Ireland, sipping this rich, creamy liquid that was somehow reminiscent of dark chocolate and freshly baked bread and a hot cup of coffee at the same time. That beer was my gateway stout and since that first one, the category has changed as much as I have as a beer drinker.

“Stouts are timeless because they are so versatile,” says Sarah Flora, a homebrewer and founder of Flora Brewing. “There’s a stout for every occasion: cozying up by a fire with a 10% ABV imperial that’s going to put you to bed or mowing the lawn with a 5% ABV Irish stout that you can drink all day.” While there is a time and place for the classics, the beer world has been most recently infatuated with bigger and bolder beers, such as the barrel-aged or pastry stout or even barrel-aged pastry stout.

While a trip down today’s beer aisle can easily result in a four-pack of s’mores beers or a six-pack of something that could be mistaken for chocolate milk, it’s important to remember where the style started. “When I reach for a stout, I am looking for a beer that has incredible depth of flavor and complexity from the wide array of kilned and roasted malts that make this style what it is,” says Averie Swanson, master cicerone and founder of Keeping Together. So whether you want a simple sipper or something that can act as an after-dinner treat, these are some of the best stout beers to savor right now.


The 12 Best Stout Beers to Drink in 2021

Sarah Freeman is a freelance writer based in Chicago, specializing in beer, spirits, food and restaurants.

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products you can learn more about our review process here . We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

It was a pint of Guinness that opened my eyes to what a beer could be. Before then, “beer” was the amber stuff that came out of a keg in someone's backyard. But everything changed while I was sitting at the bar of a pub in Ireland, sipping this rich, creamy liquid that was somehow reminiscent of dark chocolate and freshly baked bread and a hot cup of coffee at the same time. That beer was my gateway stout and since that first one, the category has changed as much as I have as a beer drinker.

“Stouts are timeless because they are so versatile,” says Sarah Flora, a homebrewer and founder of Flora Brewing. “There’s a stout for every occasion: cozying up by a fire with a 10% ABV imperial that’s going to put you to bed or mowing the lawn with a 5% ABV Irish stout that you can drink all day.” While there is a time and place for the classics, the beer world has been most recently infatuated with bigger and bolder beers, such as the barrel-aged or pastry stout or even barrel-aged pastry stout.

While a trip down today’s beer aisle can easily result in a four-pack of s’mores beers or a six-pack of something that could be mistaken for chocolate milk, it’s important to remember where the style started. “When I reach for a stout, I am looking for a beer that has incredible depth of flavor and complexity from the wide array of kilned and roasted malts that make this style what it is,” says Averie Swanson, master cicerone and founder of Keeping Together. So whether you want a simple sipper or something that can act as an after-dinner treat, these are some of the best stout beers to savor right now.


The 12 Best Stout Beers to Drink in 2021

Sarah Freeman is a freelance writer based in Chicago, specializing in beer, spirits, food and restaurants.

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products you can learn more about our review process here . We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

It was a pint of Guinness that opened my eyes to what a beer could be. Before then, “beer” was the amber stuff that came out of a keg in someone's backyard. But everything changed while I was sitting at the bar of a pub in Ireland, sipping this rich, creamy liquid that was somehow reminiscent of dark chocolate and freshly baked bread and a hot cup of coffee at the same time. That beer was my gateway stout and since that first one, the category has changed as much as I have as a beer drinker.

“Stouts are timeless because they are so versatile,” says Sarah Flora, a homebrewer and founder of Flora Brewing. “There’s a stout for every occasion: cozying up by a fire with a 10% ABV imperial that’s going to put you to bed or mowing the lawn with a 5% ABV Irish stout that you can drink all day.” While there is a time and place for the classics, the beer world has been most recently infatuated with bigger and bolder beers, such as the barrel-aged or pastry stout or even barrel-aged pastry stout.

While a trip down today’s beer aisle can easily result in a four-pack of s’mores beers or a six-pack of something that could be mistaken for chocolate milk, it’s important to remember where the style started. “When I reach for a stout, I am looking for a beer that has incredible depth of flavor and complexity from the wide array of kilned and roasted malts that make this style what it is,” says Averie Swanson, master cicerone and founder of Keeping Together. So whether you want a simple sipper or something that can act as an after-dinner treat, these are some of the best stout beers to savor right now.


The 12 Best Stout Beers to Drink in 2021

Sarah Freeman is a freelance writer based in Chicago, specializing in beer, spirits, food and restaurants.

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products you can learn more about our review process here . We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

It was a pint of Guinness that opened my eyes to what a beer could be. Before then, “beer” was the amber stuff that came out of a keg in someone's backyard. But everything changed while I was sitting at the bar of a pub in Ireland, sipping this rich, creamy liquid that was somehow reminiscent of dark chocolate and freshly baked bread and a hot cup of coffee at the same time. That beer was my gateway stout and since that first one, the category has changed as much as I have as a beer drinker.

“Stouts are timeless because they are so versatile,” says Sarah Flora, a homebrewer and founder of Flora Brewing. “There’s a stout for every occasion: cozying up by a fire with a 10% ABV imperial that’s going to put you to bed or mowing the lawn with a 5% ABV Irish stout that you can drink all day.” While there is a time and place for the classics, the beer world has been most recently infatuated with bigger and bolder beers, such as the barrel-aged or pastry stout or even barrel-aged pastry stout.

While a trip down today’s beer aisle can easily result in a four-pack of s’mores beers or a six-pack of something that could be mistaken for chocolate milk, it’s important to remember where the style started. “When I reach for a stout, I am looking for a beer that has incredible depth of flavor and complexity from the wide array of kilned and roasted malts that make this style what it is,” says Averie Swanson, master cicerone and founder of Keeping Together. So whether you want a simple sipper or something that can act as an after-dinner treat, these are some of the best stout beers to savor right now.


The 12 Best Stout Beers to Drink in 2021

Sarah Freeman is a freelance writer based in Chicago, specializing in beer, spirits, food and restaurants.

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products you can learn more about our review process here . We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

It was a pint of Guinness that opened my eyes to what a beer could be. Before then, “beer” was the amber stuff that came out of a keg in someone's backyard. But everything changed while I was sitting at the bar of a pub in Ireland, sipping this rich, creamy liquid that was somehow reminiscent of dark chocolate and freshly baked bread and a hot cup of coffee at the same time. That beer was my gateway stout and since that first one, the category has changed as much as I have as a beer drinker.

“Stouts are timeless because they are so versatile,” says Sarah Flora, a homebrewer and founder of Flora Brewing. “There’s a stout for every occasion: cozying up by a fire with a 10% ABV imperial that’s going to put you to bed or mowing the lawn with a 5% ABV Irish stout that you can drink all day.” While there is a time and place for the classics, the beer world has been most recently infatuated with bigger and bolder beers, such as the barrel-aged or pastry stout or even barrel-aged pastry stout.

While a trip down today’s beer aisle can easily result in a four-pack of s’mores beers or a six-pack of something that could be mistaken for chocolate milk, it’s important to remember where the style started. “When I reach for a stout, I am looking for a beer that has incredible depth of flavor and complexity from the wide array of kilned and roasted malts that make this style what it is,” says Averie Swanson, master cicerone and founder of Keeping Together. So whether you want a simple sipper or something that can act as an after-dinner treat, these are some of the best stout beers to savor right now.


The 12 Best Stout Beers to Drink in 2021

Sarah Freeman is a freelance writer based in Chicago, specializing in beer, spirits, food and restaurants.

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products you can learn more about our review process here . We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

It was a pint of Guinness that opened my eyes to what a beer could be. Before then, “beer” was the amber stuff that came out of a keg in someone's backyard. But everything changed while I was sitting at the bar of a pub in Ireland, sipping this rich, creamy liquid that was somehow reminiscent of dark chocolate and freshly baked bread and a hot cup of coffee at the same time. That beer was my gateway stout and since that first one, the category has changed as much as I have as a beer drinker.

“Stouts are timeless because they are so versatile,” says Sarah Flora, a homebrewer and founder of Flora Brewing. “There’s a stout for every occasion: cozying up by a fire with a 10% ABV imperial that’s going to put you to bed or mowing the lawn with a 5% ABV Irish stout that you can drink all day.” While there is a time and place for the classics, the beer world has been most recently infatuated with bigger and bolder beers, such as the barrel-aged or pastry stout or even barrel-aged pastry stout.

While a trip down today’s beer aisle can easily result in a four-pack of s’mores beers or a six-pack of something that could be mistaken for chocolate milk, it’s important to remember where the style started. “When I reach for a stout, I am looking for a beer that has incredible depth of flavor and complexity from the wide array of kilned and roasted malts that make this style what it is,” says Averie Swanson, master cicerone and founder of Keeping Together. So whether you want a simple sipper or something that can act as an after-dinner treat, these are some of the best stout beers to savor right now.


The 12 Best Stout Beers to Drink in 2021

Sarah Freeman is a freelance writer based in Chicago, specializing in beer, spirits, food and restaurants.

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products you can learn more about our review process here . We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

It was a pint of Guinness that opened my eyes to what a beer could be. Before then, “beer” was the amber stuff that came out of a keg in someone's backyard. But everything changed while I was sitting at the bar of a pub in Ireland, sipping this rich, creamy liquid that was somehow reminiscent of dark chocolate and freshly baked bread and a hot cup of coffee at the same time. That beer was my gateway stout and since that first one, the category has changed as much as I have as a beer drinker.

“Stouts are timeless because they are so versatile,” says Sarah Flora, a homebrewer and founder of Flora Brewing. “There’s a stout for every occasion: cozying up by a fire with a 10% ABV imperial that’s going to put you to bed or mowing the lawn with a 5% ABV Irish stout that you can drink all day.” While there is a time and place for the classics, the beer world has been most recently infatuated with bigger and bolder beers, such as the barrel-aged or pastry stout or even barrel-aged pastry stout.

While a trip down today’s beer aisle can easily result in a four-pack of s’mores beers or a six-pack of something that could be mistaken for chocolate milk, it’s important to remember where the style started. “When I reach for a stout, I am looking for a beer that has incredible depth of flavor and complexity from the wide array of kilned and roasted malts that make this style what it is,” says Averie Swanson, master cicerone and founder of Keeping Together. So whether you want a simple sipper or something that can act as an after-dinner treat, these are some of the best stout beers to savor right now.