2016 Beer Guide: Editors’ Choice

Call them disrupters. Craft ski companies have been around since Igneous (Wyo.) pressed planks in the late ’90s. Craft brewers? They emerged a decade earlier in mountain towns around the country. Big manufacturers, from K2 to Anheuser Busch, didn’t pay much attention at first. But combine the buying power of Gen-Xers (who got their start drinking the occasional Catamount Amber or Wet Mountain IPA) with that of millenials (only 60 percent of whom have ever tried the King of Beers, says The Wall Street Journal), and you’ve got a brewvement. So, to them and discerning drinkers everywhere, we present our annual Beer Guide, an incomplete sampling of the best beers in America.


Over the next few weeks, we will present our beer standouts by region, but first, we will start with three outlier beers that should be on the bucket list of any libation aficionado.



Worthy Brewing

Bend, OR | ABV: 6.9%

How does a brewery that’s only three years old make one of the best IPAs in the country? It’s simple: Hops. Lots and lots of Oregon-grown hops: Meridian, Centennial, Nugget, Horizon and Crystal combine to make an IPA that Worthy calls “crisp and refreshing.” Testers got the memo. “Everything is in great balance in this beer,” said one of our certified beer judges. “Big American hop aroma, but not overdone.”





Wasatch Brewery

Polygamy Nitro Porter
Salt Lake City, UT | ABV: 6%

It took years of testing for Wasatch Brewery to master the nitrogen injection for its Polygamy Nitro Porter, and it’s only the second bottler in America to pull it off. So yeah, it’s kind of special. The nitrogen bubbles are tinier than CO2, making for what Wasatch calls this beer’s “silky smooth texture and mouthfeel.” Testers dug it. “A solid porter,” one said. “[The nitrogen] contributes to the almost pilsner-level of drinkability.”







Zero Gravity Brewery

Narconaut Black IPA
Burlington, VT | ABV: 6.8%

If there were one winner in the Backcountry Beer Test, the Narconaut would stand atop the podium. Testers gushed over its balance of hoppiness and malt profile. It’s brewed with pilsner malt and then dry-hopped with Nugget hops, which are used widely in traditional IPAs. “A wonderful hop aroma makes the roasty flavor a pleasant surprise,” said one of our homebrewers. One of our certified beer judges agreed: “Somehow [has] flavors both big and subtle. If I had to drink only one beer all winter, it would be a Narconaut.”




To get the February issue, visit the Backcountry Magazine store.


  1. Thanks for including us and for the kind words. Glad you enjoyed. Cheers!

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