10 Best California Beers of 2014

Top 10 California

Food GPS beer editor Sean Inman chooses 10 great California beers by style.

Best Of lists are notorious for being a bit marshmallow fluff (my trademark in case some adventurous brewer wishes to brew a beer by that name), but I hope to use this space to showcase beers and breweries that did extraordinary work in 2014. The following beers really made me sit up and contemplate the glass in front of me.

Now is the time for you, the reader, to argue with me, debate me and offer up your own suggestions by commenting at the end of this post…and yes, there are more than 10 beers on this list. I hemmed and hawed (damn, another beer I should have added) but in the end I just couldn’t bear to cut any of these from the round-up.

Selah by Monkish Brewing

What can I say about Monkish? They did everything right this year and Selah was a wonderful surprise. I ordered it off the cuff, expecting great but getting wonderful. Such a beautiful interpretation of Belgian filtered through Torrance. I could have easily added more Monkish beers to this list.

Chinook Showers by Noble Ale Works

The Showers series is winning plaudits, and rightfully so, but this is, by far, the best of the bunch to me. It made me re-think the Chinook hop and then do more research on it to see how they had brewed such a beer.

Mandaraison by Lagunitas

I had the rare privilege to taste some barrel-aged beers from the Marin County brewery, but this is the beer that made me go back for seconds. A sublime balance of citrus and saison.

Citra Session IPA by Green Flash Brewing

Session IPA’s get a bad rap as XPA’s in disguise. Mostly from me. This version from hop maestro’s Green Flash is superb. Bitter, but also focused on the grain. Hopefully it will come around again.

Sipper-Saurus by Tyler King of The Bruery for Noble Ale Works

The Bruery is on the list. Twice for collaborations. It is a testament to their skill that they can work under these circumstances and this little session beer packs a wallop. I don’t want Evan Price to have too much vacation, but this is a grand substitute for when he does.

Oneida Pale Ale by Modern Times Beer

Cans were the mode of transport for Modern Times beers, but the special bombers showed off seasonal style as well. This pale really showed off the complexity of the hops without overpowering the palate.



Sean Inman

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

Blog Comments

Lagunitas Brewery is in Sonoma County (Petaluma, to be precise) while it’s name sake city is in Marin County. Just sayin’…

What about Stine’s Coffee and Milk Stout. I was extraordinary.

I’m trying to think of a good LA gift for my husband, who likes beer. Any suggestions?

You could take him on an LA Beer Hop. It’s a beer tasting tour that visits all of the breweries of Los Angeles. Check it out here labeerhop.com.


Did you happen to see Sean Inman’s gift guide for craft beer fans? Plenty of good ideas: http://www.foodgps.com/craft-beer-christmas-gifts

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