In revisiting all the beers I drank and reviewed in this space over the past year, I realized something: we live in a golden age of beer. In 2014, the number of breweries operating in the U.S. topped 3,000 -- a threshold that hasn't been reached since the 1870s. Some of those new spots opened right here in the Valley: Dubina Brewing Co. in Glendale; Mother Bunch Brewing in Phoenix; Peoria Artisan Brewery in Litchfield Park; The Beer Research Institute in Mesa. Established breweries from across the country, recognizing the growing market for craft beer in Arizona, added our state to their distribution networks, allowing many drinkers their first taste of Founders Brewing Co., Mike Hess Brewing Co., Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, Elevation Beer Co., Lakefront Brewery and Southampton Publick House, among others. As consumers in Arizona, we're spoiled with choice. There are more world-class beers available here than ever before.
You would think, then, that choosing favorites from this surfeit of really good beer would be difficult -- and it was. But even among the big-league brews I tend to write about, there were standouts. Some were memorable because they exemplified some aspect of this industry I love; some deftly showcased an exciting new brewery; some simply tasted really, really good. These 10 beers epitomize 2014: the best beer year yet. More »