Best Beers In The World
In our second annual ranking, we lapped the world looking for the perfect pint. Hundreds of beers -- and thousands of calories -- later, we bring you Men's Journal's definitive guide to man's oldest, greatest, and most popular drink.

The Best Beer in the World. Period.
Saison Dupont
Origin: Belgium
Alcohol content by volume: 6.5%

With its luminous orangey-blond color and huge, rocky head, this beer just looks great. But wait till you taste it: Like other saisons, Dupont's is made with a secret mix of herbs that give it an addictive earthy taste and an agreeable bitterness. At 6.5 percent, it's also got a mild kick, which balances a range of citrusy, malty flavors that even wizened beer connoisseurs struggle to describe. "Impossibly delicious," says legendary brewmaster Garrett Oliver. Saison Dupont is the "desert island beer" of many men (Oliver and present company included). Pop a cork, guys -- we think you'll feel the same way (brasserie-dupont.com).
 
Lagers & Pilsners
Once upon a time, all beers were dark and cloudy. Then in 1842 a brewer in Pilsen, Bohemia (present-day Czech Republic), invented the clear, crisp golden nectar that most of the world now knows as beer; Saturday afternoons would never be the same. These days, unfortunately, lagers and pilsners get a bad rap. Most industrial American macrobrews are better suited to shotgunning than sipping, and too many European lagers and pilsners are skunky and tired by the time they wash up on our shores. These seven beers, on the other hand, will restore your faith in lagers and pilsners forever.
 
GOLD
Victory Prima Pils
Origin: USA
Alcohol content by volume: 5.3%

Out of the American microbrew revolution grew new versions of classic European beer styles, recognizable but slightly tweaked and amped-up riffs on tradition. Exhibit A: Prima Pils. Last year we voted Prima Pils one of the greatest beers in the country, and since then our affection for it has grown bottle by bottle. Far hoppier than most pilsners (though less bitter than the venerable Pilsner Urquell), Prima Pils is soft, lively, and peerlessly refreshing. This, friends, is what beer should taste like. victorybeer.com
 
SILVER
Mahr's Unfiltered Lager
Origin: Germany
ABV: 5.2%

One of the first beers we tried in this quest, Mahr's Ungespundet Hefetrüb, or unfiltered lager, set the bar very, very high. Brewed artisanally in Germany's most underestimated beer-producing region, Franconia, Mahr's is big and ballsy, cloudy to the eye but bright and full on the tongue. With a potent, buttery aroma and richness to spare, this flavor-packed beer begs to be paired with the best steak you can grill. mahrs.de
 
BRONZE
Eku Pils
Origin: Germany ABV: 5%
Germany is a land of bucket-size steins meant to be filled with delicious, truly drinkable beer. Eku Pils, a soft, spritzy German pilsner, is the lightest brew in this category -- perfect for those enormous steins. But that doesn't mean it's short on taste. Clean and straw-colored, crisply bitter but rounded out by a subtle malt flavor, it's perfect for sipping or, if you must, chugging. www.kulmbacher.de
 
Ales & Bitters
The British call a few hours down at the pub a drinking "session," which tells you that when it comes to beer, the Brits mean business. So it's no surprise that English-style ales -- the most popular of which are bitters, pale ales, and India pale ales -- are staples for microbreweries on both sides of the pond. Here are the very best.
 
GOLD
Ridgeway Bitter
Origin: England
ABV: 4.0%

If you can imagine an early spring breeze liquefied and bottled, then you have a good idea of what to expect when you open your first bottle of Ridgeway's exceptional bitter. Even after traveling 4,000 miles to the States, this beer still smells, tastes, and feels as though it were made a quick bike ride away -- soft, grassy, creamy, and, above all, fresh. sheltonbrothers.com
 
SILVER
AleSmith IPA
Origin: USA
ABV: 7.25%

Beer, like wine, speaks for the land it comes from, so it's no surprise that microbrews from Southern California are loud, aggressive, and intense. AleSmith IPA is no exception. The beer geeks adore it, and for once, it seems, they're onto something: This is without a doubt the most pleasant of the SoCal "extreme" beers we've found. alesmith.com
 
BRONZE
Full Sail Pale Ale
Origin: USA
ABV: 5.4%

From the brewing hub of Oregon comes this soft, clean, copper-colored brew, true to its Anglo roots but with a trademark hoppy kick that sets it apart from its British forebears. fullsailbrewing.com
 
Belgian Beers
With exports that include designer chocolate and Jean-Claude Van Damme, Belgium is a country of acquired tastes. But take a sip of one of its big, bold, amazingly drinkable beers -- there are more than 1,500, in a country the size of Maryland -- and you'll be thinking of moving to Brussels for the rest of the summer.
 
GOLD
Trappistes Rochefort 10
ABV: 11.3%
In the great tradition of always having beer on hand for company, Belgium's Trappist monks still brew their own, to revive weary pilgrims -- and stock their own ready supply. There are still six Trappist breweries going strong (and a seventh in Holland); all of their beers, the most famous of which is the revered Chimay, are worth seeking out. But for us, the 11.3 percent Rochefort 10 easily takes the crown. Potent, spicy, and complex, this ale is suitable for aging like a vintage burgundy. Keep one on hand for your next visitor, and you know she'll be back. merchantduvin.com
 
SILVER
XX Bitter
ABV: 6.2%
In Belgium, a country overflowing with "cult classics" and full of obsessed consumers, each new zymurgical development is tracked with the kind of rapt attention we give to the NBA draft. So eight years ago, when friends and novice brewers Nino Bacelle and Guido Devos introduced XX Bitter -- "the hoppiest in Belgium" -- the populace took notice. These days XX is one of the most sought-after beers in Belgium. sheltonbrothers.com
 
BRONZE
La Bavaisienne
ABV: 7%
From the tiny Theillier brewery comes a beer French by birthright but Belgian in spirit. It's as delicious as it is scarce, though we hope not for long: Just last year it took the top spot at the World Beer Championships with the highest score in history. sheltonbrothers.com
 
Dark Beers
If you studied the beer family tree going all the way back to mankind's most ancient styles -- the first date to some 8,000 years ago -- dark beers would rule the roost. Today, the style is stronger than ever. Here is the cream of the crop.
 
GOLD
Celebrator Dopplebock
Origin: Germany
ABV: 6.7%

Bavarian recipes for dopplebock (literally, "double goat," as in "strong as a ram") date back more than 150 years, but there's nothing quaint about this modern classic, brewed since 1878 by the legendary Ayinger brewery outside Munich. Packed with rich roasted-malt flavors, this garnet-colored brew is balanced by notes of coffee and a smoky dryness. ayinger.de
 
SILVER
Kulmbacher Mönchshof Schwarzbier
Origin: Germany ABV: 4.9%
Locals call it the black pils (schwarz is German for "black"), and unlike most dark beers around the planet, Mönchshof is fermented like a pilsner -- at low temperatures. The result? A clean, crisp, exceptional dark brew. www.kulmbacher.de
 
BRONZE
Guinness Stout
Origin: Ireland ABV: 4.2%
Guinness is synonymous with stout, and for good reason: Since 1759 the company's roasty jet-black beer has set the standard by which all other dry stouts are judged. Because of aggressive international distribution, the Irish standard is now available in nearly every corner of the globe. www.guinness.ie
 
Summer Beers
Although it's true that any of the lighter beers on this list makes a great summer thirst-quencher, these three beers demand special designation. Bright, refreshing, and packed with spice and fruit aromas, they should be appreciated outside on a sunny day, preferably with a barbecue grill nearby.
GOLD
Ayinger Bräu-Weisse
Origin: germany ABV: 5.1%
This classic Bavarian wheat beer is a perfect specimen: cloudy orange, with a thirst-quenching lemony body and a whiff of banana, figs, and spices at the top. Pair with a freshly grilled brat and life, for a moment, will be complete. ayinger.de
 
SILVER
Hoegaarden
Origin: Belgium
ABV: 4.8%

Hoegaarden is an institution in its native Belgium, but only in the past 13 years have we been able to get our hands on this fantastic summer beer. Bright, frothy, and lemony, this witbier, or "white beer," is brewed with wheat, spiced with coriander, and often served with a lemon. www.hoegaarden.be
 
BRONZE
Fantôme Saison
Origin: Belgium ABV: 8%
When we say this is one of the great summer sippers, the emphasis is on "sipper." It's 8 percent alcohol, but this artisanal ale is ripe with natural melon and tropical fruit aromas that mask the booze. www.fantome.be
 

For the complete list of "Best Beers in the World" pick up the July 2005 issue


By: Christian DeBenedetti and Seth Fletcher
The Expert Panel: Daniel Bradford, publisher of All About Beer magazine; Julie Johnson Bradford, editor of All About Beer magazine; Ray Deter, D.B.A. Bar, NYC; Alan Jestice & Dave Brodrick, Blind Tiger Ale House, NYC; Ray Daniels, director of craft beer marketing, Brewers Association; Jerald O'Kennard, director of the Beverage Tasting Institute
Photographs by: Michael Pirrocco
(July 2005)


Copyright ©2005 by Men's Journal LLC
WENNER MEDIA: RollingStone.com | Us Online