New year, new beers! Let’s spill the beans: We didn’t participate in Dry January. However, we did try many hot, non-alcoholic brands to show you which to keep an eye on while also digging into dark lagers (one of our top trends of the year) and exploring the whacky world of winter warmers. In short, we drank some top beers in January.

Whether trying a beer from one of our “Best Breweries to Watch in 2024” or from someone on our list of the “Top People to Watch in Craft Beer in 2024,” we really kicked off the new year with a bang.

Plus, we’ve already moved closer to achieving one of our new ‘beer’ resolutions, visiting several breweries in our home state for the first time.

How will we live up to the past 31 days for the next 334? We’ll do our best.

Find below the top ten beers we drank in January. Happy New Year!

Top 10 Beers We Drank in January 2024

Cloud Factory – New Belgium San Francisco

San Francisco, CA

new belgium san francisco
Photography courtesy of New Belgium

Hazy – We named New Belgium’s SF taproom to our list of “The 13 Best Breweries to Watch in 2024,” because Head Brewer Ramon Tamayo always keeps us on our toes.

A few of the team had the chance to hang out with him on a Saturday, sharing a few beers on tap (and we even brought some bottles of our own—see below).

Tamayo approaches brewing like Banksy approaches a wall. Colorful, creative, and always surprising.

Think of an innovative hop product—Incognito, Salvo™, SPECTRUM, etc.—and Tamayo has most likely used it.

At New Belgium’s San Francisco taproom, Tamayo just gets to play.

Which means we get beers like Cloud Factory, a hazy collab with Olfactory featuring Waimea, Citra, Sabro, Sultana Salvo, and Lotus Salvo.

Every time we sit down and have a beer with Tamayo, we learn about a new hop he’s stoked about, a new product he’s f**ked with, or a new brewery he’s hit up to collab.

So, while Cloud Factory has probably come and gone, rest assured that you’ll drink something crushing it whenever you visit.


Lord of the Scorched Church – Brujos Brewing

Portland, OR

brujos brewing lord of the scorched church triple ipa
Photography courtesy of @brujos_brewing

Triple Hazy – While we drank plenty of New Belgium beers during our visit to the SF taproom, the team also pulled some favorites out of our individual stashes to share.

Named one of our “Best New Breweries of 2023,” Brujos Brewing is making some of the best hazy IPAs in the world, according to our social media manager, Magic Muncie.

Lucky for us, he brought Lord of the Scorched Church to the city for all of us to try.

According to Brujos, they “soullessly hop” this TIPA with Citra for a beer that’s perplexingly equal parts juicy, creamy, hoppy, and daaaannnkkk. Bold, yet restrained enough in the latter to mystify us at 10% ABV, we probably can’t drink a ton of this…but we sure want to.


Trail Pass – Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

Chico, CA

sierra nevada brewing company trail pass ipa and trail pass golden ale non-alcoholic beer
Photography courtesy of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

Non-Alcoholic – While we didn’t personally participate in Dry January, we support those who did. With non-alcoholic beer a legitimate part of our industry, so many completely dedicated non-alcoholic brands have continued to emerge. At the same time, breweries try brewing their own NA beers.

Those like Sierra Nevada, which finally released its non-alcoholic line of beers, including Trail Pass IPA and Trail Pass Golden.

Sierra Nevada’s NA portfolio includes an impactful IPA with Bravo, CTZ, Magnum, and Cascade hops, along with an easy-drinking golden ale (not lager) featuring Centennial, Cascade, and Bravo hops.

In the past, we fell in love with Sierra Nevada’s hop water Hop Splash, and now we’re adding both of these beers to our NA rotation.


Quiet Night – Fox Farm Brewery

Salem, CT

fox farm brewery quiet night dark lager
Photography courtesy of @foxfarmbrewery

Dark Lager – If you read our piece on “The 9 Craft Beer Trends to Watch in 2024,” you know that we’re calling this “The Year of the Dark Lager,” whether that’s Czech dark lager, German or American dark lager, or more.

Empirically, almost every beer package we’ve received has included a dark lager, and nearly every brewery we visited had something dark and cold-fermented on tap.

We’ve always admired Fox Farm from afar for its pinpoint, maddeningly close-to-perfect-every-time lagers. Things are no different with its Czech-style dark lager called Quiet Night.

Made up almost entirely of Bohemian malted barley, this dark lager spends over six weeks in a horizontal lagering tank after primary fermentation.

The finished beer drinks super plush and velvety with a crisp finishing note. Expect a restrained profile of dried fruits like raisin and prune pinballing to dark chocolate roastiness ricocheting to toasted graham cracker crust.

Looking for other top dark lagers to try? Check out the list of Untappd’s All-Time Top-Rated Dark Lagers.


Cold Mountain – Highland Brewing Company

Asheville, NC

highland brewing cold mountain winter warmer ale
Photography courtesy of Gabe Swinney | Highland Brewing

Winter Ale – Pull up a chair by the crackling fire to hear the tale of winter warmers, the seasonal style that signifies the holidays and celebration. You’ve probably heard of several iconic versions—21st Amendment Fireside Chat, Deschutes Jubelale, Anchor Christmas Ale, and AVBC Winter Solstice, to name a few. But you may not know that on the East Coast, Asheville-based Highland Brewing makes a version that has attracted a cult-like following over the last almost three decades.

Today, over 6,000 people come out to the Cold Mountain release over a four-day event.

Pouring a bright, dark amber, Cold Mountain has a light brown foam on top and appears “brilliantly clear,” according to Highland Brewing Sensory Scientist Megan Rayfield. “You see right through it.”

Aroma-wise, she wants you to notice those warming holiday spices like vanilla and cinnamon up front, which carry through the sip to a rich, malty body.

“Vanilla sweetness balances with spicy cinnamon against the backdrop of caramel malts,” she says. “Delicate hop bitterness evens things out, warming nut flavors add complexity, and a touch of fruit on the end makes it all pop.”


Kimchi Sour – Dokkaebier

Oakland, CA

dokkaebier kimchi sour
Photography courtesy of Grace Weitz | Hop Culture

Sour – One of our “15 People to Watch in Craft Beer in 2024,” Dokkaebier Founder Youngwon Lee invited us out to the brewery for a peek inside his own Korean-inspired wonderland.

Born in Korea, Lee has lived all over, moving to Guam, New Jersey, and then California for school before taking time off to return to Korea to care for his grandmother. Back in Korea, he discovered a love for wine and eventually beer, working at the Korean-owned brewery The Booth when they opened an outpost in California.

But when The Booth folded in the U.S., Lee wanted to continue to find ways to bring his culture to drinkers.

“I realized I was the only Asian person at a beer festival,” says Lee. “If I were to create something new, I wanted to go all out, go even more Asian. I felt like that would make us more unique.”

He continues. “What I saw as an opportunity back then is now more like a mission. I’m going to make this happen, and I want to make the industry more diverse. I want to bring more culture to the beer we make.”

Named after dokkaebi (도깨비), shape-shifting creatures from Korean folklore, Lee’s brewery mimics the dokkaebi’s love of eating and drinking.

Each beer comes with a playful whimsy and a spirit of experimentation. But also an opportunity to educate.

Like the Kimchi Sour made with ginger, gochugaru peppers, and a lactic culture from two-year-old homemade kimchi to mimic the flavors of the traditional Korean fermented cabbage.

To infuse flavor, Dokkaebier Brewer Jake Dworkin passes the wort through a steeping bag of gochugaru peppers before kettle souring with that bespoke kimchi culture, which sits in the kettle for two days. “We do it on Fridays, so we let it sit over the weekend [souring] before we bring it to a boil and then brew like normal,” Dorkin told us.

The result?

A bold beer unlike any we’ve ever tasted. This is precisely what Lee wants, admitting he was afraid to call it a Kimchi Sour initially because he feared people wouldn’t understand the key ingredients.

“But we were like, you know what? If people don’t know, we’ll use this opportunity to teach them, so let’s just get bold with it and go for it,” says Lee, who now cites Kimchi Sour as Dokkaebier’s best-selling beer.

“[That beer] has such an impact as a flavor, brand, or name because there’s no such thing like that,” says Lee. “Every single person remembers [it].”

We know we’re still thinking about it. The flavors ping pong off your tongue: first, a hit of almost umami from the sour lactoculture, followed by a pleasant, savory tingle from the ginger and gochugaru peppers. Not too sour, this beer stays crushable as Lee intended. “If it hurts you, you can’t drink the whole thing,” says Lee. “So I want it to still be crushable.”

We drank the whole glass, took a four-pack home with us, and added this beer here, so we’ll let you judge if Lee succeeded!


Baltic Porter – East Brother Beer Co.

Richmond, CA

east brother beer co baltic porter
Photography courtesy of @eastbrotherbeer

Baltic Porter – Ahoy there, mateys, we just returned from a trip across the high seas, traversing the concrete shores of our home suburb of Richmond to find this hidden gem. Tucked away in a manufacturing district, East Brother’s taproom isn’t even visible from the parking lot.

When I pulled into the complex with my wife in a somewhat desolate section of our neighborhood, we questioned for a second whether we were in the right place.

My eyes locked on a guy with a 49ers growler walking across the lot. “Let’s just follow that guy!” I exclaimed. “I’m sure he knows where he’s going.”

Sure enough, around the corner, we discovered East Brother.

Trust us, this brewery is worth the trek. Brewmaster Paul Liszewski admitted to me that the brewery is a bit of a destination. As we tucked into his English Pale Ale on cask, he even shared with me that he lives in San Francisco, making the sometimes one-hour-plus trek every day.

But to him, it’s absolutely worth it because at East Brother, he gets to make a wide range of award-winning beers, from the Bo Pils and Oatmeal Stout to seasonals like the Pre-Pro Lager and Baltic Porter.

When I asked Liszewski to point out the beer he was most proud of on the tap list at the moment, he mentioned his English pale on cask and the Baltic Porter.

Made with Halcyon, crystal, chocolate, and black malts, East Brother’s Baltic Porter crushes you with warming waves of toffee, dark chocolate, plum, cherry, molasses, and coffee.

At 8.6% ABV, this Baltic porter definitely isn’t the strongest one I’ve seen (which I very much appreciated), but I still drank a whole pint and found myself wistfully dozing off at home an hour later.

Since this beer is only around this time of year, I’ll probably be heading back for another as many times as possible.


Powell Street Porter – Bartlett Hall

San Francisco, CA

bartlett hall powell street porter
Photography courtesy of @bartletthallsf

American Porter – If you read our list of “Our Top 11 New ‘Beer’ Resolutions for 2024,” you’ll know that we’re aiming to visit ten new breweries in our home state of California over the next twelve months.

So far, we’ve already hit two: the aforementioned East Brother and Bartlett Hall in San Francisco.

We have Craft Beer & Brewing (CBB) to thank here because they listed Bartlett Hall Powell Street Porter on their list of “The Best 20 Beers in 2023.”

We asked the team if anyone had ever heard of Bartlett Hall, with heads shaking back and forth all the way around. So, I ventured into the city early in January to check it out.

Posting up at the bar at 11 am on a Sunday, I immensely enjoyed drinking this equal parts roasty, dark, chocolatey robust porter.

And I’m not the only one. The beer pulled down a silver at the Great American Beer Festival in 2019 and gold in 2022.

I consider this a no-frills beer. You don’t have one flavor poking out above the other. All stand out in harmony, like ornaments on a Christmas tree; one isn’t shining brighter than the other, but rather, they’re all creating a celebratory collage.

Like a shot of espresso to the brain, Powell Street Porter woke up parts of my brain that have hidden in the shadows for a long time—those that find malt more important than hops.

I have to agree with CBB; this is one hella great beer.


Fog Adjacent – Humble Sea Brewing Company

Pacific, CA

humble sea brewing company x firestone walker brewing company fog adjacent extra pale ale
Photography courteys of @humblesea.pacifica

XPA – On a particularly foggy New Year’s Eve, I found myself sitting at the bar of Humble Sea’s Pacifica taproom enjoying this extra pale ale while my wife surfed in the rain (crazy person!). Content to read my book and sip on Fog Adjacent, one might say that I stayed fog adjacent.

A collab with Firestone Walker and Haas, Fog Adjacent doses Citra, Galaxy, and a new experimental hop called HBC 1019 in a style that honestly hides in the foggy shadows of hazies and West Coasties.

A thought shared by Firestone Walker Brewmaster Matt Brynildson, with whom I connected several days later.

Inspired by a trip Brynildson took with Humble Sea Head Brewer Nick Pavila to New Zealand, Fog Adjacent embodies each brewery’s love for what they call “haze-adjacent” beer.

“We were drinking so much XPA and fell in love with the style,” Brynildson told us. “And we were just scratching our heads on why XPA has not become a thing…so we get on a roll about making this beer, and the next thing you know, I drove up to Santa Cruz to make this beer!”

If I were Goldilocks sitting down at the bears’ table to eat my gruel and drink my beer, this would be the one that’s just right. Not too hoppy. Not too light. Just a perfect medium-bodied beer with a soft slap of citrus that gently wakes you up thanks to the Citra, Galaxy, and HBC 1019 hops.

It was the perfect beer to curl up with while reading a book on a foggy California day, which is exactly what I did.


Mind Haze Brain Melter and Mind Haze Cosmic Crusher – Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Paso Robles, CA

firestone walker brewing company mind haze hazy ipa
Graphic courtesy of Firestone Walker Brewing Company

Hazies – Speaking of Firestone Walker, the brewery that brought you the uber classic Union Jack and new wave Mind Haze recently announced two new additions to the latter line.

Mind Haze Brain Melter and Mind Haze Cosmic Crusher take the foundation of Mind Haze, the brewery’s most successful beer, and amp up the juice, the haze, and the ABV.

“Brain Melter is a beer that doubles down on everything we love about Mind Haze–mouth-watering tropical flavors with a bit more octane to give it an extra punch,” Brynildson says, noting the team tested twelve to sixteen different hop blends, settling on the one they liked best—Vic Secret, Strata, and Citra hops. All added with double the average amount and a nice little double dry hop.

“It was ultra-tropical and expressive with a pleasing roundness. There’s a seamless connection between the smooth, malt-derived texture and the juicy hop character,” Brynildson says.

For Cosmic Crusher, Brynildson calls this one “a wolf in fuzzy sheep’s clothing,” thanks to how smooth this 9.5% ABV beer drinks. “Cosmic Crusher is our crazy adventure into the realm of imperial juicy IPAs,” says Brynildson. “It’s wild how the alcohol hides in this beer.”

Featuring Galaxy and Strata, Cosmic Crusher gets punched up even more with Firestone Walker’s juicy yeast strain. “The yeast does a lot of heavy lifting in this beer, bringing all this flavor and aroma to the forefront while keeping the beer in balance,” says Brynildson.