Roses are red. Stouts are black.

We overindulged during SF Beer Week. And that’s a fact.

While many were buying chocolate and flowers…

We were drinking barleywines, saisons, and sours.

Throw in a few helles, pilsners, and dunkels.

And well, February was just Bob’s your uncle.

However, in 2024, we’re stoked to get one extra day.

So, let’s toast to the top twelve beers we drank in February!

Top 12 Beers We Drank in February 2024

Black is Beautiful – Jazz Nights – Funkytown Brewery

Chicago, IL

funkytown brewery black is beautiful - jazz nights baltic porter
Graphic courtesy of @funktytown_brewery

Did you know the phrase “Black is Beautiful” comes from a series of fashion shows from the 1960s? In beer, we all know those three little words thanks to Weathered Souls Co-Founder Marcus Baskerville, who started the Black is Beautiful campaign after the murder of George Floyd in 2020 to raise awareness around racial injustice and police brutality.

But as Funkytown’s newest iteration of this beer, dubbed Black Is Beautiful – Jazz Nights, shows us: This phrase has an even more powerful foundation.

To combat systemic racism and restore racial pride in Harlem, two brothers—Kwame Brathwaite and Elombe Brath—founded the African Jazz Art Society and Studios (AJASS), producing a fashion show with one message: Black is Beautiful.

The show, called in short ‘Naturally 62’, showcased models with darker skin and natural, tightly-coiled hair, wearing African-inspired clothing.

At the time, most models were white women, following Eurocentric beauty standards. This show turned things upside down, giving power back to Black women and spotlighting Black beauty on the center stage.

These Grandassa models, named after the term “Grandassaland” aka Africa, “staunchly refused Euro-centric beauty standards and added empathetic context to the phrase Black is Beautiful,” wrote Funkytown Co-Founder Rich Bloomfield in an email to Hop Culture. “The Grandassa models were showcased in Africa, the Caribbean, and other destinations. These women became known worldwide, appearing in newspapers and magazines and on album covers. The impact affected Black culture around the world highlighting the values of self-love, inner beauty and connection to Africa.”

In March 2023, Funkytown connected with Cinque Brathwaite, son of the late Elombe Brath and his wife Helene Nomsa, one of the original Grandassa models, hearing his stories about the impact of that fashion show and the lasting legacy of those three words: Black is Beautiful.

Funkytown poured that inspiration into Black is Beautiful – Jazz Nights, an homage to the original founders of the phrase.

“While we will continue to highlight and support endeavors from the Black is Beautiful beer movement started by Marcus Baskerville of Weathered Souls Brewing, we now look to express ourselves creatively and stylistically with the original Black is Beautiful movement and founding family as the inspiration,” wrote Bloomfield.

On the can, you’ll find a label inspired by the original Black is Beautiful poster, designed by Bob Gums and Kwame Brathwaite. Inside the actual letters, Bloomfield says you’ll find depictions of Jazz musicians.

On the inside, you’ll find a gorgeous Baltic porter slowly thrumming along with bass-like bumps of velvety roast chocolate and coffee. For a twist, Funkytown sweetens their first-ever lager with blackberry, an incredibly elegant touch, brightening the entire beer with a soft soprano note of acidity.

Bloomfield says by adding the dark fruit they hop to “introduce more Black people, women, and underserved groups of beer with a palatable option low on bitterness and astringency.”

In short: This beer will carry on a revolutionary legacy.

Proceeds from Black is Night – Jazz Nights will be split between the National Black Brewers Association (NB2A) and AJASS.


Grand Old Ebenezer – Cinderlands Beer Co.

Pittsburgh, PA

cinderlands beer co grand old ebenezer barleywine
Photography courtesy of @cinderlandsbeer

Barleywine – When Cinderlands Co-Founder Paul Schneider hits you up to tell you that they just made a new sparkling hop water and a couple of barrel-aged releases and asks if you’d like to try some, the answer will always be yes.

While we certainly enjoyed the Pittsburgh-based brewery’s take on H2O and hops, we were blown away by this year’s Grand Old Ebenezer, a 14% ABV barleywine aged in rum, cognac, and Buffalo Trace bourbon casks for twenty-six months.

A part of Cinderland’s Foundry Collection, Grand Old Ebenezer drinks like your grandfather’s cognac. And we mean that in the best way because your grandfather (or grandmother’s) liquor cabinet is top shelf, aging for years. This is the after-dinner beer that you want to drink around the dinner table as you chat about whether the Chiefs will become three-time Super Bowl champions, where Taylor Swift is playing her latest concert, and what’s new with the Scandoval.


ParaPajamas – Firestone Walker Brewing Company

Paso Robles, CA

firestone walker brewing company brewmasters collective 2024 weldworks collab, parapajamas, parabola, still loading
Photography courtesy of Firestone Walker Brewing Company

Imperial Stout – Firestone Walker recently sent us the first quarterly release in their incredible Brewmaster’s Collective membership club.

And it’s a doozy. Like a boozy doozy.

Simply called The Verse, this collection of five beers reads like its own epic. Starting with Balaton Bones, a majorly fruited wild saison with over three pounds of Balaton cherries, The Verse flows into its next chapter, the classic, cherished Parabola.

Twists abound with ParabaNoche, a spin on Parabola made in collaboration with WeldWerks. This barrel-aged stout aged for eighteen months in special handpicked Parker’s Heritage whiskey barrels.

We could wax poetic about Sleep Mode, a barrel-aged barleywine that almost did exactly what it says. Matured for thirty-six months in Weller wheated whiskey and Heaven Hill bourbon barrels, this beer has only one rule, according to Firestone Walker, while drinking: Do not disturb.

But the beer that brought it all home for us, that wrote the finale: ParaPajamas. This imperial milk stout with cocoa, vanilla bean, and marshmallows brought back memories of building fort tents in the living room while roasting marshmallows in the fireplace, pretending we were in some deep forest far away on an incredible adventure.


Rose – Fair Isle Brewing

Seattle, WA

fair isle brewing rose farmhouse ale
Photography courtesy of @fairislebrewing

Farmhouse Ale – We know Fair Isle best for its stunning saisons, a combination of sustainability, patience, and terroir. Local ingredients always wind their way into this Seattle-based brewery’s intricately nuanced and layered creations. So, we know we shouldn’t be surprised how stunning Rose turned out.

But we are.

A saison with Montmorency cherries and rose geranium, Rose presents very much like its eponymous wine variety. First released to celebrate Fair Isle’s third anniversary in 2023, this oak-aged farmhouse ale spent considerable time on local tart cherries before a dose of rose geranium, an ingredient from a local spot called The Herbfarm.

You get this play on light and dark, night and day, tart and floral. A complement to the sweeter tones of the cherries, the rose geranium ushers in a soft floralness that expertly cushions the cherry cordial.

Not overpowering. Not underperforming. Just perfect harmony. Which is what we expect from everything Fair Isle touches.

But, like we said, this beer still shook us to our core.


Dunkel – Enegren Brewing Company

Moorpark, CA

enegren brewing company dunkel
Photography courtesy of @enegrenbrewing

Munich Dunkel – We ask: Is there a better style of beer to drink in the winter than a Munich dunkel? Argue away. But for us, this rings true. And Enegren just nails it with Dunkel.

According to the brewery, its version of this dark German lager “is one of the maltiest and smoothest beers we’ve ever brewed.” Made with German Munich, Melanoidin, and debittered chocolate malts, Dunkel warmed us like a fresh brown sugar oatmeal raisin cookie right out of the oven, all lightly toasted and slightly sweet. A hint of brisk, honeyed biscuit gives the palate that tantalizing dryness right at the end to make you immediately reach for your mug to take another sip.

Which, according to Enegren Brewing Co-Founder Chris Enegren, is the true test of a great dunkel. “The sweeter this beer gets, the less liter-mug worthy it’s going to be, so a real dunkel has to be dark, it’s got to have that nice malt background, that toasted bread, but it has to be a beer you can have in a litre mug,” he says. “If you cannnot do that, you didn’t make a dunkel.”

We drank two 16oz cans while writing this story; 1 litre = 33.8 fl oz; you do the math!

To us, we could wrap this beer up in three simple words: winter beer perfection.


Hometown Lager – Second Pitch Beer Company

San Antonio, TX

second pitch beer company hometown lager california common
Photography courtesy of @secondpitchbeercompany

California Common – We admit that we’re still crying a little inside at the loss of Anchor Brewing and its transcendent steam beer (that beer literally survived generations of tragedies from Prohibition to fires to earthquakes to multiple bankruptcies). We were one of the hundreds who cruised BevMo! shelves for months, snapping up as many six-packs of Anchor Steam Beer® as possible.

So when Second Pitch in San Antonio, TX, sent us their tribute to Anchor’s legacy—Hometown Lager—we didn’t quite know how to feel. Sad? Happy? Excited? Can you feel all three at once?

But at the first sip of Hometown Lager, that cacophony melted away into a California Common that’s every bit deserving of the incredible medals it won—gold at the 2023 Great American Beer Festival, silver at both the 2022 and 2023 World Beer Cup, and gold at the 2021 and 2022 U.S. Beer Open and bronze in 2023.

Look, you don’t have to take our word for it. But personally, to us, it’s the care and attention Second Pitch shows to this iconic American style that has folks raving.

Brewed with a San Francisco “steam beer” yeast from Community Cultures, Hometown Lager ferments at sixty-three degrees before lagering at fifty degrees. This beer also benefits from Second Pitch Head Brewer and Co-Owner Jim Hansen’s time in the Bay Area brewing professionally.

After moving with his wife and other co-founder Sam Hansen to her hometown of San Antonio and opening Second Pitch, Hometown Lager has become, as “we like to say, our family’s hometown beer,” Sam told us.

A beautiful, honeyed biscuit backbone melds into just a whisper of grapefruit and lemon pith before an almost herbal tea-like spiciness sparks a second sip.

For us, especially since we’re based in California, this beer just brought back all those lovely Anchor Steam Beer® memories that made us want to laugh, cry, and jump for joy. All at the same time.


10 Forty – Cellarmaker Brewing Company x Urban Roots Brewing & Smokehouse

Berkeley, CA x Sacramento, CA

cellarmaker brewing company x urban roots 10 forty german pilsner
Photography courtesy of Cellarmaker Brewing Company

German-Style Pilsner – Have we mentioned that SF Beer Week is fantastic! Truly one of the best beer weeks in the entire country. And this year, breweries took the caliber even higher. Hop Culture Social Media Manager Magic Muncie and Senior Content Editor Grace Weitz spent an entire day traipsing around the Bay Area.

We enjoyed sensational saisons at Sante Adairius, drank Wondrous’ first-ever imperial stout release, found a new favorite craft beer bar in the city called Holy Water, and put our gloves on for a battle of beer from NorCal and SoCal at Cellarmaker in Berkeley. While we’re sad to say SoCal officially took the crown, the beer of the day for us actually came from a collab between two NorCal breweries—Cellarmaker and Urban Roots.

If you’ve had a beer at Cellarmaker, chances are it wasn’t a Czech lager; it was probably hazy pale like Tiny Dankster (one of our personal favorites) or Juice Gymnastics, a DDH hazy DIPA (which Muncie confirms he did once stand in line for).

But when you team up with Urban Roots, who “makes one of the most perfect little Czech lagers called 10 Degrees,” according to Cellarmaker, you get 10 Forty.

For this particular version, Urban Roots agreed to create 10 Degrees but with a German twist—Tettnang and Mittelfrüh hops.

This perfect little beer stood out, especially on a day when we drank many, many beers.


Kleiner Cowboy – Wondrous Brewing Company x Break Even Beermakers

Emeryville, CA x Amador City, CA

wondrous brewing kleiner cowboy leichtbier
Photography courtesy of @wondrousbrewing

Leichtbier – Speaking of drinking many beers, we could absolutely crush quite a few Kleiner Cowboys, a leichtbier, or highly attenuated light-bodied German lager, that clocked in at only 3.5% ABV.

Brewed in collaboration with Break Even Beermakers, Kleiner Cowboy, which means little cowboy, starts with spelt “to soften and ‘rustify’ the beer,” according to Wondrous, before getting confetti of late-kettle Noble hops such as Saphir, Crystal, and Strisselspalter.

We got this lovely crumbly scone that first fills the palate before descending into a lemon-lime hoppiness.

Much like Wondrous who notes “We could not be more happy with how this beer came out!” we, too, are stoked with this little but impactful beer.


Mucho Gusto – Fast Friends Beer Co.

Austin, TX

fast friends beer co mucho gusto mexican lager
Photography courtesy of @fastfriendsbeer

Mexican Lager – One of the first beers developed at Fast Friends, one of our “Best New Breweries of 2023”, Mucho Gusto includes all German Noble hops from a farmer co-op in Germany called Pro Hops, along with all premium Weyermann extra pale and pilsner malt, Weyermann Vienna malt, and a little bit of corn.

This pale Mexican lager “with maybe one notch up on hop character,” says Fast Friends Head Brewer Luke Wortendyke, “is a simple but very thoughtful beer that we’ve put a lot of time into.”

He continues, “It’s one of our top sellers, so it has been really cool to see such a simple, nice North American lager from a small brewpub take off and be a big needle mover for us.”


Double Barrel V.S.O.J. – Revolution Brewing Company

Chicago, IL

revolution double barrel vsoj english barleywine
Photography courtesy of @revbrewchicago

English Barleywine – A blend of English barleywines aged anywhere from one to three years, Double Barrel V.S.O.J. spends an additional eighteen months in Templeton Rye barrels for an ultra-exclusive, kind of once-in-a-lifetime beer that has a “harmonic malt complexity” and “uncharted depths of flavor,” according to Revolution. ”The absolute pinnacle of our barleywine journey to date.”

This beer rates as the number two highest-rated English barleywine of all time on Untappd, so it’s truly something special.

Want to see all the others on the list?


Evertide – Ruse Brewing.

Portland, OR

ruse brewing evertide helles lager
Photography courtesy of Ruse Brewing

Helles – Well known for its new-school offerings, Ruse also designs stunning lagers. Evertide was among the first beers we tried from Ruse, and it’s still an excellent beer today.

Balanced, a touch sweet, and refreshing, this helles hit the nail on the head.


Otto Notti – Long Live Beerworks

Providence, RI

long live beerworks otto notti imperial pastry stout
Photography courtesy of @longlivebeerworks

Imperial Pastry Stout – Long Live used to be one of our favorite under-the-radar breweries in the Northeast for its creative sours, heavenly hazies, and decadent stouts. We’re confident the cat is out of the bag, or maybe more appropriately, the pie is out of the oven on this Providence-based brewery, which opened a new location in Boston in June of 2023.

Celebrating its eighth anniversary this year, Long Live Beerworks now has quite the Rolodex of pleasurable pastry stouts.

For instance, Otto Notti, an imperial stout aged in bourbon and apple brandy barrels and conditioned on coffee beans, hazelnuts, vanilla beans, toasted coconut, marshmallows, and cacao nibs. Released just last month to celebrate Long Live Beerworks’ eight long years, the beer has already reached sugar-high heights with a 4.54 rating on Untappd.

This is probably just one of the many reasons you all mentioned Long Live Beerworks multiple times when we asked on Instagram for you to share the best pastry stout producers in the country.

Want to see the rest? ⬇️⬇️⬇️