Low-alcohol beers continued to grow in popularity this year, mostly thanks to health-minded Millennials who prefer sessionable sippers to, you know, blacking out. But that doesn’t mean we avoided beer’s boozier brethren. On the contrary, we sampled many a high-octane bottle, and we even managed to remember most of them—and they were damn good.
Here are some of our very favorite bottles that cracked the 10% ABV mark.
“Expedition Stout would do well with one or even two years on it,” writes Charlie Crespo. “Drink a bottle over the winter months, and stick the rest of your stash in a dark, cool area of your closet.”
“If you lean toward a sweeter stout, this is the barrel-aged beer for you,” says Tom Thornton. “It’s well worth a try, especially when you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth.”
“Offering this beer in a 16-ounce can is like serving whiskey by the 6-ounce wine pour—it may simply be too much of a good thing,” writes Tucker Anders. “But make no mistake, this is a very good thing.”
“Do you like spice cake? How about sticky toffee or rum raisin bread pudding? It’s all lingering in the sweet nose of Bamburana,” says Tom Thornton, who calls Bamburana “a serious but sweet dessert stout that’s a dream companion to a dessert course or sipped slowly as a nightcap.”
Perfect for the holiday season, The Mad Elf features “decadent caramel malt flavors that seamlessly blend together with the taste of ripe cherries, raw honey, and a splash of cocoa,” writes Jesse Bussard.
Our reviewer Charlie Crespo doesn’t mince words on this one: “If you see Double Barrel on your store’s shelf, don’t hesitate—buy it immediately.”
“It tastes like a bitter dark chocolate truffle filled with bourbon-and-espresso-flavored chocolate mousse,” writes Tucker Anders. “So, yeah, it’s really damn good.”
“A decade and a half of perfection has not deterred Deschutes from putting out provocative editions of The Abyss year after year,” asserts Jerard Fagerberg. “It’s a beer that earns its legendary status with every bottling.”
Sell your soul for this beer, says Jerard Fagerberg. “Hellish branding aside, this is a very congenial beer—one that provides sweetness and comfort in place of fire and brimstone.”
Another holiday brew, this stout won over our reviewer, and plenty of other people too. “In Virginia, Christmas doesn’t start until Hardywood releases Gingerbread Stout, and it’s easy to understand why.”