Hopping Into Flavor: Discover the Best IPA Beers to Satisfy Your Taste Buds
If you’re a beer enthusiast, then you already know that India Pale Ales (IPAs) have been ruling the craft beer scene for quite a while. So if you’re looking to elevate your beer-drinking experience or impress your friends on a night out, you’d be wise to familiarize yourself with the best IPA beers available.
Whether you’re a casual socializer, tourist, traveler, or a seasoned hop head, this comprehensive guide will help you navigate through the vast world of IPAs. So sit back, grab your favorite beer, and get ready to hop into the wonderful world of IPA beers!
What is IPA?
Before we dive into our list of the best IPA beers, let’s quickly go over what an IPA is. IPA stands for India Pale Ale, a type of beer that is known for its hoppy bitterness and aroma, as well as a higher alcohol content. The style was originally created in England in the 18th century as a means to preserve beer for long journeys, such as trips to the British colonies in India.
So, what sets IPAs apart from other beers? It’s all about the hops. Hops are the flowers of the hop plant, which are used in brewing for their bittering, flavoring, and aroma characteristics. IPAs are known for their bold hop flavors, which can range from citrusy and piney to floral and fruity.
Now that you have a basic understanding of IPAs, let’s hop into our list of the best IPA beers to try!
These are the IPAs that put the style on the map and continue to be favorites among beer enthusiasts.
1. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Though not technically an IPA, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale deserves a mention due to its groundbreaking role in popularizing hop-forward beers in America. First brewed in 1980, this iconic beer features Cascade hops, lending it a bright citrus and pine character that has become synonymous with American craft beer.
2. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
Bell’s Two Hearted Ale is a classic American IPA that has earned a loyal following for its balanced, yet flavorful profile. Brewed with 100% Centennial hops, Two Hearted Ale offers a beautiful blend of pine, grapefruit, and floral notes, making it an excellent example of an easy-drinking yet robust IPA.
3. Stone IPA
Stone IPA is a West Coast-style IPA and a pioneer of the craft beer revolution. First brewed in 1997, Stone IPA features a heavy dose of hops, boasting a bold and citrusy flavor profile with a subtle malt backbone. This beer is a must-try for anyone who loves hop-forward beers.
East Coast vs. West Coast IPAs
In the world of IPAs, there are often debates between the East Coast and West Coast styles. So, what distinguishes these regional variants?
East Coast IPAs
East Coast IPAs are typically characterized by a balanced approach, with a harmonious interplay between malt and hop flavors. They often feature more prominent malt profiles and a slightly sweeter finish, making them a great choice for those who enjoy a more balanced beer experience.
4. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
60 Minute IPA is a prime example of the East Coast IPA style. It’s a sessionable beer with a moderate hop bitterness and a well-rounded malt backbone. The name of the beer comes from the continuous addition of hops during the 60-minute boil, which adds a complex layer of hop flavors.
5. Alchemist Heady Topper
Heady Topper is an iconic East Coast IPA that has developed a cult following among beer enthusiasts. This unfiltered double IPA is known for its impressive hop aroma and flavor, with notes of citrus, pine, and tropical fruit.
West Coast IPAs
West Coast IPAs are known for their bold, assertive hop flavors and bitterness, with a dry finish and lower malt presence. They often exhibit notes of citrus, pine, and resin, making them a hit among hop heads.
6. Russian River Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder is the quintessential West Coast IPA, renowned for its bold, hop-forward flavors and crisp finish. This double IPA features a blend of American hops, including Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ, and Simcoe, which impart a complex and intense hop character with notes of grapefruit, pine, and tropical fruit.
7. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
Sculpin IPA is a brightly flavored West Coast IPA that showcases a blend of hops that lend notes of apricot, peach, mango, and lemon. The beer’s light malt profile allows the hops to take center stage, making it an excellent representation of the West Coast style.
One of the most popular IPA styles in recent years is the Hazy IPA, also known as New England IPAs or NEIPAs. These beers are characterized by their hazy appearance and soft, juicy flavors. Hazy IPAs often have lower bitterness and higher hop aroma and flavor than traditional IPAs, which has helped to make them incredibly popular among beer drinkers.
8. Tree House Julius
Julius is a highly sought-after hazy IPA from Tree House Brewing Company, known for its intense tropical fruit and citrus flavors. The beer has a soft and pillowy mouthfeel, with a low bitterness that makes it incredibly drinkable.
9. Trillium Congress Street IPA
Trillium’s Congress Street IPA is another excellent hazy IPA, showcasing the Galaxy hop variety, which imparts flavors of peach, passion fruit, and citrus. The beer has a smooth, almost creamy mouthfeel, which balances the fruit-forward hop character nicely.
Imperial IPAs, also known as double IPAs or DIPAs, pack a punch when it comes to flavor and alcohol content. These beers typically have a higher ABV and more pronounced hop character than their single IPA counterparts.
10. Firestone Walker Double Jack
Double Jack is a bold and assertive West Coast-style DIPA that boasts flavors of grapefruit, tangerine, and pine. The beer’s substantial malt backbone provides a touch of sweetness, which balances the intense hop character and 9.5% ABV.
11. Surly Abrasive Ale
Abrasive Ale is a potent and bracing DIPA from Surly Brewing that features a massive hop aroma and flavor. Brewed with a single hop variety, Citra, this beer imparts flavors of grapefruit, mango, and passion fruit, with a hefty backbone of malt to support the hop onslaught.
For those with adventurous palates, there are a plethora of experimental IPAs on the market that push the boundaries of the style. Here are a few that are worth seeking out.
12. Dogfish Head Flesh & Blood IPA
Flesh & Blood IPA is brewed with a unique combination of ingredients, including orange peel, lemon flesh, and blood orange juice. This creates a vibrant and zesty IPA with a prominent citrus flavor and aroma.
13. Stillwater Artisanal Wavvy
Wavvy is a rotating series of double IPAs from Stillwater Artisanal that showcases a variety of experimental hop varieties. Each iteration has its own unique hop profile, which can range from tropical fruit and citrus to dank and herbal.
Whether you’re new to the world of IPAs or a seasoned hop head, this list showcases a diverse array of IPA styles to suit all tastes. So the next time you’re at your favorite pub or bar, be sure to venture out and try some of these top-notch IPAs. Your taste buds will thank you!
_By Lauren Franklin
Last modified on ___