With more than 3,000 breweries operating in the U.S. right now, being a completist is impossible for any beer nerd who also wants to lead a semi-functional life. It seems like every city—from Charlotte, NC to Bend, OR—has its own vibrant suds culture these days, while craft-brew behemoths like Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head continue to push the envelope and roll out new products.

Of course, for every new Other Half Green Diamonds Imperial IPA, there are countless also-rans that aren’t worth your hard-earned beer money (or bladder space). To help you focus your drinking efforts, we tapped our bicoastal panel of pros—including beer writers, publicans, and shop owners—to look back at the year in suds and answer one simple question: What was the best new beer of 2014?

Here are our experts:

From peach-packed sours to IPAs that are actually worth the hype, these are the new beers that made their mark in 2014.

Firestone Walker Pivo Hoppy Pils


From: Paso Robles, CA
ABV: 5.3%
Website: firestonebeer.com

Wes Jacobs says: Picking a favorite beer during the most explosive growth period in American beer is difficult. I could easily have chosen a well-crafted, small-batch release with limited distribution that most people would never have had the opportunity to try, but what’s the point in that? Instead, I selected a beer that is widely distributed, regularly available, and nearly always in my own fridge: Pivo Hoppy Pils by Firestone Walker. It’s very drinkable, excellent alone, and pairs well with food—from chili burgers to lobster, and almost everything in between. Pivo’s herbal and spicy hop character is extremely well-balanced against a light sweet honey malt base, and it has a wonderful dry, clean finish. (Photo: Firestone Beer)

Beachwood Brewing Mocha Machine

From: Long Beach, CA
ABV: 9.2 %
Website: beachwoodbbq.com

Danny Dib says: This exceptionally well-crafted porter has a nice full body and a wonderful rich espresso aroma. The brew is aged with cocoa nibs and coffee from Portola Coffee Lab. It’s like a chocolate milk shake for adults. The coffee isn’t there for show, but it doesn’t overpower the flavor either. (Photo: Beachwood Brewery)

The Rare Barrel Map of the Sun

From: Berkeley, CA
ABV: 6.4%
Website: therarebarrel.com

Dave McLean says: There’s so much activity in the wild/sour beer space right now, but I’ve noticed that The Rare Barrel beers exhibit the kind of poise and nuance that I’d expect from a much more mature brewery. Map of the Sun has so much complexity, and yet everything is harmonious and well-balanced. I like the way the juicy fruit notes and bright acid interplay with the earthy, funky character from the Brett, and some of the more delicate underlying malt notes. (Photo: The Rare Barrel)

Noble Ale Works Shower Series

From: Anaheim, CA
ABV: 8.8%
Website: noblealeworks.com

Jerry Su says: Technically, I am failing to follow directions since it isn’t one single beer, but I think it very important that it be mentioned as a series. The Showers Series includes single-hopped double IPAs that showcase some of the beer industry’s favorite hops. Each one allows us to embrace the varying degrees of aromatics, fruitiness, bitterness, floral notes, and everything else that makes a particular hop so special. Amarillo Showers can be floral and pleasantly bitter; Citra Showers is refreshing and super fruity; and Galaxy Showers is distinctively dank—just to name a few. Particularly popular among those who brew, this series does more than just please the palate; it educates the drinker too! (Photo: KolbeG/Untappd)

Creature Comforts Cucumber & Lime Tritonia

From: Athens, GA
ABV: 4.5%

Austin L. Ray says: For its very first specialty release, the GABF-medal-winning, barely-six-months-old Creature Comforts—The Classic City’s first production brewery since Terrapin opened in 2002—dropped this stupidly refreshing gose that sports 4.5% ABV, coriander, sea salt, lactobacillus, and just a touch of cucumber and lime. It quickly disappeared when it first came out, but it’ll be back in 2015. In fact, the brewery is considering making several Tritonia variations in the years to come. Just another of the many reasons why there’s never been a more exciting time to drink beer in the Peach State. (Photo: brewdrinkrun)

Stillwater/Westbrook Gose Gone Wild

From: Baltimore, MD
ABV: 4.6%
Website: stillwater-artisanal.com

Aaron Goldfarb says: I would have loved to have been cheeky and picked Hill Farmstead Aaron, but though bourbon barrel-aged barleywine is maybe my favorite style of beer (and Aaron my favorite name, obvi), I have to admit it was only my second favorite new beer of 2014. My honest-to-God 2014 favorite was a one-off, sophomorically named brewery collaboration gose of all things. How could a 4.6%-ABV beer be so packed with flavor, so utterly memorable, and make me so hope it will be released again one day? (Photo: Stillwater Artisanal)

The Bruery Mocha Wednesdays

bruery_mochawedesday 2 From: Placentia, CA
ABV: 19.2%
Website: thebruery.com

Ale Sharpton​ says: The Bruery’s​ Black Tuesday​ ​bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout​ was already gangster​​, but when these brewing geniuses added San Francisco’s TCHO cacao nibs ​and ​coffee from ​nearby Portola Coffee Lab​ to create Mocha Wednesday at 19.2% ABV, they took it to the next level. Hump day will never be the same again. (Photo: Vimeo)

Bissell Brothers The Substance

From: Portland, ME
ABV: 6.5%
Website: bissellbrothers.com

Dave Brodrick says: My favorite new beer of 2014 is Substance by Bissell Brothers. I was visiting Portland, ME and was checking the draught list at Central Provisions when I saw this new beer I’d never heard of. I innocently ordered it, not expecting much, and was instantly blown away: This light, hazy beer was just bursting with grapefruit and pine—it practically exploded out of the glass. But miraculously, it finished beautifully dry. I’ve heard it called Heady Topper’s little brother—it’s 6.5% ABV—and there is some similarity. All I know is, I spent the rest of that trip searching for it wherever I went. (Photo: Bissell Brothers)

Denver Beer Co. Incredible Pedal IPA

From: Denver, CO
ABV: 7%
Website: denverbeerco.com

Chris O’Leary says: Technically, this beer was around in 2012, but it was only an occasional release before hitting cans in 2014. In a year where more than 3,000 US breweries were in operation, it’s hard to distinguish one IPA from the thousands of others on the market. But there’s something about the Incredible Pedal IPA that sets it apart: the malt body; the juicy, tropical fruit aroma; and grapefruit finish all come into balance. The sum of its parts made it one of the most memorable beers I had this year. Oh, and it’s in a cool-looking can, too. (Photo: Denver Beer Co.)

Odell Brewing Friek

From: Fort Collins, CO
ABV: 6.5%
Website: odells.com

Joshua M. Bernstein says: Ripping through my beer fridge at a rapid clip, there was no stopping my friends. That is, until they uncorked Odell’s Friek. Packed with raspberries, cherries, and wild yeast, and aged in oak till good and ready, the tart-sweet sparkler quickly quelled the frenzy. “That. Is. Amazing,” they exclaimed, sipping the funky, fruity elixir nice and slow. Barrel-aged wild ales are hardly ever done better this. (Photo: Odells)

Two Roads Road Jam Raspberry Wheat Ale

From: Stratford, CT
ABV: 5%
Website: tworoadsbrewing.com

Bill Brooks says: In terms of how much I funneled down my throat, I would have to say Two Roads Road Jam is my favorite beer of 2014. This wheat ale brewed with raspberries and lemon grass looks like it belongs in a slushy machine at a bar in Cancun (in a good way). But with the master hand of Phil Markowski and company, this beer finished dry and stayed away from bad decisions. It became my go-to for the summer in a way that made my wife jealous. (Photo: Two Roads Brewing)

Allagash Farm to Face

From: Portland, ME
ABV: 5.7%
Website: allagash.com

Justin Kennedy says: Allagash released a slew of new limited-edition fruit sours this year—Nancy, Currant Affair, and Pick Your Own, among others—but my favorite was Farm to Face, a straightforward pale ale inoculated with pediococcus and lactobacillus, then bombed with three-thousand pounds of fresh New Hampshire peaches. It’s tart and peachy upfront, with a dusty tanginess lurking in the background. The name comes from a zealous peach farmer named Todd Wagner of Applecrest Farm who had a revelation while pondering the delicious fruit hanging in his orchards: “Farm to Table?” he wondered aloud. “More like Farm to Face!” *chomp* (Photo: Allagash)

Craftsman Ursa Major

From: Pasadena, CA
ABV: 6.3%
Website: craftsmanbrewing.com

Jon Carpenter says: Always a reliably solid brewery producing top-notch clean and sour beers alike, Craftsman knocked it out of the park with this tart offering. Ursa Major, labeled a Flanders Oud Bruin, presents deep mahogany with a light creamy off-white head. Deep caramel notes meld with light ripe fruit, leaving a pleasantly sour, sharp, drying finish that keeps you coming back for more. Big thanks to the small team at Craftsman! (Photo: artisanalales)