Everyone pretty much knows everything about the ever-popular American IPA. Beer drinkers are pretty much crazy for them right now! We talked about the intense and incredible aroma and flavor of American and New World hops throughout the series as well as in our Born in the USA article so instead of a dedicated piece to strictly American IPAs, we’re ending the month with an overall IPA blow-out! Here are our Top 5 IPAs of ALL TIME!!
Well there it is, my Top 5 American IPAs. I left off many of my favorites but picking only 5 is hard! All of these beers are world-class examples of the style and are must-try IPA’s. Yes, some of them are harder to find but I don’t care! These were chosen for flavor and not ease of purchase. The only rule I used for my list was that I personally had to have had the beer more than once.
So let me explain to you quickly why these are the top 5 beers in a category full of amazing options. We all know that American IPAs are hop-focused beers. When I smell one I expect to get a nose full of hop resin! BUT there still needs to be balance. The beer can’t be all hops. Each of these beers is crafted and worked over many times to create something special. The malt bill is created to balance the hops and the yeast is chosen for its flavor impact as well. My top 5 are all examples of perfected recipes that are flawlessly brewed. When you want to taste the best look no further.
Selecting your favorite IPA is akin to choosing your favorite child. There is no winning in making the selection since you only remember the ones you didn't select. My original list had 15 IPAs and that's even before I researched it thoroughly. However, I had to make the decision whether to select the beer with which I had the best experience, the beer that is the most consistent or some combination of those factors and many others.
Even though this is my final ranking, you could probably ask me the same question tomorrow and my number 5 could be my number 1 or it could be replaced with one of my other Runners Up – the list is that tightly-knit, in my opinion.
Here is a quick reasoning for each of the beers. I have probably purchased more 6 packs of Anti-Hero than any other beer and I buy a lot of beer! It has all of the flavors I prefer in an IPA. I have only had Lunch twice and both times it was amazing – it was an unforgettable beer and that means something to me. Half Acre is my favorite brewery for hoppy beers and if I had a list of favorite IPAs and didn't include them, I would be mad at myself. Even though it has had a variety of names, GoneAway is an award winning IPA and needs to be in the ’best of’ conversation, no matter what it is named next. Westbrook was one of the last beers to blow me away with the smell, taste and experience! It might have a plain name, but everything else about it is extraordinary. Torpedo is such a classic beer I couldn't imagine my list without including it.
I know the list leans mostly Midwest and East Coast sprinkled in but I will not apologize for it. I will, however, ask you for new beers to add to my list! Let me know what your favorite IPA is via Twitter @beertasteslike.
In no particular order
Tropicalia, Creature Comforts Brewing Company, Georgia
Furious, Surly Brewing Company, Minnesota
Beer Hates Astronauts, Half Acre Brewing Company, Illinois
Sip of Sunshine, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, Vermont
60 Minute IPA, Dogfish Head Brewery, Delaware
Duet, Alpine Beer Company, California
Spiteful IPA, Spiteful Brewing Company, Illinois
Union Jack, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, California
JOANNA & THE IPA
Guys, it's been a love hate relationship, for sure. I haven't always loved IPAs. I used to despise them, actually, and think that they all tasted like cat pee. It's been a long road to learning to appreciate the host of flavors that are possible in an IPA. I have learned that I need balance and I prefer juicy tropical hops and a little less bitterness. Over time, I've come to appreciate the bitterness more and how it plays with other flavors, not only in beer but also in food.
I never knew about Red or Rye or Black IPAs a few years ago either! Those opened many new flavor doors for me to the IPA. I particularly love Rye IPAs. The sweet peppery notes of the rye are just fantastic!
I guess what I'm trying to say is you should just keep trying beers. Just keep getting samples or small pours and you'll find one, two or five that you like. Don't discount an entire beer style because three years ago you didn't like IPAs or sours or saisons. We live in a time where craft breweries are doing some really great stuff these days so just keep your taste buds open to all of it.
Here are a couple of my own pics for favorite IPAs, in no particular order. I just felt like they should be included!