7 IPAs to Drink on National IPA Day
Cheers to the bitterest beers out there
It's hard to imagine a time where we didn't love the overly hoppy bombs that's taken over craft breweries from coast to coast.
There's a whole lot of craft beer and beer styles to love, as we've seen over and over again. But one style that's risen to the forefront of the American craft beer scene has found its foothole among beer drinkers — and that's the IPA.
Click here for the 7 IPAs to Drink on National IPA Day Slideshow
It's hard to imagine a time where we didn't love the overly hoppy bombs that's taken over craft breweries from coast to coast. But in fact, India Pale Ales are deeply rooted into the history of beer, as Joshua Bernstein notes; the India Pale Ale name originates from a time when beers coming to and from India were fortified with extra hops to keep them fresh. Those fragrant flowering plants didn't just act as a preservative, but also added a punch of bitterness.
Now, IPAs can be measured by IBU's, international bittering units. The higher the number of IBU's, the more bitter the beer is. Compare a Budweiser, at 10 IBUs, to an extra-hopped IPA, like the Sierra Nevada Tornado, at 65 IBUs. Yeah, that's a bitter brew. And yes, it's possible for IPAs to reach up to 168 IBUs; according to the Beer Tutor, the bitterest beer on record tops out at 2,500 IBUs.
Fortunately, for those still dipping their big toe in to the world of IPAs, there's plenty to choose from that won't make your mouth pucker like a Warhead. (Remember those!) Today's IPAs come with full, varied flavors, and a balance that is common to just about any beer style today. In fact, some believe that a brewery is only as good as its IPA. Tristan Chan, from Porch Drinking, notes that the IPA category is the most-entered category at the Great American Beer Festival. "If you’re visiting a brewery that doesn’t specialize in a style, the IPA is an instant judgment for how special their beer is," he says. Check out who we think is making some of the most innovative IPAs today, and start puckering.
5 Houston-Area IPAs You Should Drink Right Now
Holler Brewing Co. delivers a good, ol' fashioned West Coast IPA in Top Coat.
A wise woman once told me that crisp, cold, clean, and easy drinking beers are suitable for Texas summers, but there's nothing better on a sweltering day than pumping your veins with 473 ccs of dank hops, some bursting with tropical flavors that complicate the classic perception of beer, let alone IPA, and some laced with a grassy, earthy blend that softens your heart and relaxes your mind. That makes the annual celebration of National IPA Day pretty fitting. The mercury is hovering around 100 degrees. There's beer close by. Have an IPA. Experience pleasure.
Need some suggestions? Here are five of the best Houston-area IPAs in rotation right now.
Top Coat IPA - Holler Brewing Co.
Let's start with something that screams IPA from the rooftops. Top Coat pours with a little haze and drinks like a West Coast IPA with grapefruit and pine dominating the mix. With a 7.9 percent ABV, it's right for a dinner pairing (always grilled meat) and for the barfly who's fine sitting around for an additional hour. As a straight-up local IPA, this works quite well.
See that? That's some haze, my friends.
Bam Bam - Great Heights Brewing Co.
The great New England IPA craze of 2016-17 brought us a wealth of beers that attempt to pack as much sugary, fruit juice flavor as possible into a crowler. The key to a great NEIPA, however, is that the tropical flavors aren't the only body blows delivered by the beer. A big roundhouse of West Coast hops are a great way to wallop the drinker after that initial burst of Citra. Bam Bam's profile leans on the fruit (Citra, Idaho 7 hops), bringing notes of pineapple and grapefruit, while the additional hops (Mosaic, Ekuanot) are primarily for aroma. It doesn't destroy, and instead, lets you down easy. This makes for an acceptable introduction to a style where beer can literally taste like your third-grade lunch snack of Gushers.
Mama Tried IPA - Brazos Valley Brewing Co.
Speaking of New England IPAs . well, it's hard to call Mama Tried a NEIPA. Yes, there's Citra here, and the slap of mango and lemon peel is quite refreshing. But it doesn't punch, and the offsetting hop (Cascade) is right on point, but not turned up to 11 like in the finest juice bombs (Treehouse Julius, Two Roads Two Juicy, Lone Pint Yellow Rose). This is a session NEIPA, or something I'll call a Cape Cod IPA, perfect for the family barbecue, a lazy Saturday afternoon when you want the flavor but not the fall-on-your-face feeling at the end of the session. Now that we have more information about NEIPAs, it feels like Mama Tried can find its place in a crowded space.
Bonesaw - Sigma Brewing Company
Sometimes it's fun to taste a beer you wouldn't traditionally order on a 100-degree day, and Sigma obliges regularly with bourbon-barrel offerings, stouts, porters, and this double black IPA that rides in with a 9 percent ABV. Bonesaw is perfect for dessert or that "I've had a long day let's go" feeling, and it does a nice job balancing its dark maltiness with the big hop qualities that you'll find in most IPAs, marrying roasted aroma and a malty, piney taste that goes strong. It's adventurous, and maybe even overlooked.
ThunderCougarFalconBird - Eureka Heights Brewing Co.
This relatively new, seasonal beer is a holy grail for fans of Futurama (the ThunderCougarFalconBird is a very "masculine" car) and a fun attempt at attracting drinkers by smell, much in the way that gullible car buyers can be attracted by catchphrases and commercials where dealers' kids are paraded about. Citra (of course), El Dorado, and Simcoe are all double dry hopped here, creating a pungent aroma of tropical fruit.
These 7 Hoppy IPAs Are Nearing Craft Beer Classic Status
Today is the hoppiest day of the year: National India Pale Ale (IPA) Day! IPAs’ reputation occasionally suffers from extreme bitterness being synonymous with the style. Today, that’s largely a misconception. Sure, there are bitter, boozy bombs out there, and we can all thank the invention of the Triple IPA for that. However, the real beauty of the style is when you can balance hops with malt, the unsung hero of a good IPA. Do this and you’ll achieve much more than a big bitter mess, you’ll end up with a hopperatic opus.
New IPAs seem to drop every week, and with nearly all 3,000 breweries in the country producing at least one, it can be difficult to discern the best of the best at your local craft beer store. These 7 hoppy IPAs, which we first wrote about several years back, are nearing classic status—so, yeah, worth seeking out and sipping asap.
1. Maine Beer Company’s Dinner
MBC is one of the finest brewers of hoppy beers in the country. While anyone can make a single good hoppy beer, it’s hard to imagine crafting a line that goes from session to double-strength in such refreshing fashion. Even at 8.6%, Maine’s first Double IPA avoids being too boozy or bitter while delivering huge tropical hop flavor.
2. The Alchemist’s Focal Banger
Years ago, Alchemist was known for a variety of brews besides their cult classic Heady Topper double IPA, but when their brewery was wrecked by Hurricane Irene, they became a one-beer brewery. They not only survived but flourished enough to diversify again, and this single IPA won’t make you pine for Heady for a second. It really is amazing how much citrus flavor they pack into a single can.
3. La Cumbre Brewing Company’s Project Dank
New Mexico got a ton of attention thanks to Breaking Bad. Now that the series is in the past, a serious contender for “cooking up the best dank” has to be La Cumbre, scorching the competition with their amazing hoppy brews. This clocks in just at the border of single IPA at 7.5% but the tropical and citrus hops are so juicy that you don’t notice it at all. As Jesse Pinkman would say, “Hell yeah, bitch!”
4. Fiddlehead Brewing Company’s Second Fiddle
Fiddlehead Brewing Company brings serious mastery of hop greenery to the craft beer game. With tons of grapefruit and tropical hops, this bad boy is second fiddle to none. As crazy as it sounds, one sip and you just might reroute your next Vermont beercation straight to Shelbourne and stay there.
5. Noble Ale Works’s Citra Showers
Citra fever is in full effect — everyone has gotten on this fruity citrus hop train, but to pull it off well is another thing entirely. This might just be the best Citra-hopped brew on the West Coast. This double IPA packs a thunderous 8.8% ABV, but you get huge tropical fruits like pineapple, mango and orange with enough malt to balance even a hop storm this big.
6. Half Acre’s Beer Hates Astronauts
Inspired by the comic book God Hates Astronauts, this dank IPA uses exclusively Citra hops. Although it originally came out a few years back in 22-ounce bombers, Chicago’s Half Acre now makes this in 16-ounce cans! Although it’s no longer a shock to see awesome IPAs in cans, new ones with this much flavor and aroma bursting from the moment you punch the lid are still a thing of rare cosmic beauty.
7. Fort George Brewery’s 3-Way IPA
Collaborations are awesome. What we have here is a rotating cast of two breweries partnering with Astoria, Oregon’s Fort George. The 2018 version features the troika of Fort George, Modern Times and Holy Mountain, teaming to create an IPA that may require a trip to the Pacific Northwest to find, but don’t let that stop you.
This post has been updated from an earlier IPA Day story originally written by Jon Katz.
The 7 Best IPAs to Drink out of a Growler on Father’s Day
Lately, the only viable way to enjoy a fresh IPA is out of a 16 oz. can, likely released within a very brief window directly from the brewery. We’re all for sipping on juicy IPAs straight out of the can, but it’s hard to beat a fresh draft pour. If you’re looking for peak freshness in your hazy beer, an air-tight growler is the way to go. Most breweries have their own glass growlers available for purchase, but we recommend going for a sleeker option like DrinkTanks’ insulated growlers.
And who better to share your fresh hoppy beer with than your dad on Father’s Day. Give the gift of fresh hops to pops and split a delicious beer Sunday afternoon. Need some pairing recommendations? We’ve got you covered here. Need some beer recommendations? We can do that too. Check below for our picks for seven of the best IPAs to share from a growler on Father’s Day.
Zero Gravity Craft Brewery — Burlington, VT
Double IPA– Zero Gravity’s Green State Lager is a perennial favorite among the Hop Culture staff, but, if you’re seeking something hoppy, go for Madonna. A fresh, lovely double IPA, Madonna brings with it ripe, tropical fruit notes with a soft, smooth body. Fill up a growler and hit the trail with dad this weekend.
Cigar City Brewing Co. — Tampa, FL
IPA– If there were ever a front yard beer, this would be it. Jai Alai from Tampa’s Cigar City is a robust IPA with citrus and sweet malt flavors. Sit on the porch with your dad and split a growler of fresh Jai Alai. For peak enjoyment, grill up a few burgers or split some tacos.
Wolf Ov Siberia
Kings County Brewers Collective — Brooklyn, NY
Double IPA– This is a beer for all the metal dads out there. Kings County Brewers Collective (KCBC) is perhaps best known for their delightful, comic book-inspired can art. Wolf Ov Siberia embraces a sleeker, more hardcore vibe. The beer itself is excellent. A healthy balance of hazy IPA juiciness meets a touch of West Coast pine. Enjoy out of a freshly filled growler with a Behemoth record spinning.
10 IPAs to Drink on National IPA Day
Forget your troubles, c’mon get hoppy with us on National IPA Day!
Saturday, August 9, we’re inviting you to all 10 Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant locations to sample creative and delicious IPAs from each of our head brewers. Yep, that’s right: All 10 beers will be available at every Iron Hill location throughout the day.
“One of the most exciting things about working at Iron Hill is seeing the inventive work of our talented head brewers as they experiment with different styles of beer,” says Director of Brewing Operations Mark Edelson. “For National IPA Day, we’re proud to feature a special IPA from each of them, side by side, for all of our guests to enjoy.”
So what’s on the IPA Day lineup? Glad you asked:
- Goldfinger IPA from Iron Hill Newark, brewed specifically for the occasion with balanced hop bitterness, aggressive citrus hop flavor, medium body and golden color
Another IPA from Iron Hill West Chester, an aggressively hopped West Coast-style IPA with a bouquet of pineapple, tangerine and pine aromas and flavors backed by subtle, honey-like malt aromatics
I.ron P.ale A.le from Iron Hill Media, a deep gold American IPA with flavors of citrus, pine and resin balanced by a toasty malt backbone
Yippee-KI-P-A from Iron Hill Wilmington, another American IPA brewed specifically for National IPA Day, with huge American hop flavor and aromas of citrus and pine
Hopzilla from Iron Hill North Wales, a medium-bodied American IPA with full malt flavor, pronounced bitterness and remarkable hop flavor and aroma
Big Trellis IPA from Iron Hill Phoenixville, an American IPA with overwhelming citrus hop presence balancing full malty flavor and powerful bitterness
Hop Stinger from Iron Hill Lancaster, a golden American IPA loaded with citrusy hops for flavor and aroma, brewed with 60 pounds of local honey for added complexity and flavor
Martha Furnace from Iron Hill Maple Shade, a West Coast-style IPA that is intensely hopped for firm bitterness and bursts of tropical citrus character
Hop Addict from Iron Hill Chestnut Hill, a true West Coast-style IPA brewed with lots of Cascade, Centennial, Amarillo and Citra hops, which impart flavors and aromas of citrus and tropical fruits
Some Like It Hoppy from Iron Hill Voorhees, an American-style IPA showcasing quintessential American hops Cascade, Centennial, Columbus and Chinook grapefruit, pineapple and pine enhance a light caramel malt profile
IPAs will be offered individually on a pay-as-you-go basis or as a delicious sampler for $15, including 4 oz. pours of each of the 10 IPAs. For full National IPA Day details, click here.
Be social! Share the day with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtags #IHIPADAY and #NationalIPADay.
With 10 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey (make a reservation here), we specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.
My local brewery strikes again! For some reason I have a thing for coffee beers, and most of them tend to be stouts. Three Taverns teamed up with local coffee company Octane for this cold brew coffee infused American IPA which was surprisingly smooth with a bit of an acid finish. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve had a Night on Octane hopefully the brewery brings this beer back in the future.
Windows Up was a total surprise. As I recall, a friend gave me a six pack of Windows Up as a thanks for borrowing my mountain bike. It has a cool name and label, but more importantly, it’s one of the cleanest, most flavorful American IPAs I’ve tasted. If I had regular access to Alpine Windows Up (and it didn’t cost more than $12 a six pack like it does here!), I’d keep this stocked in my refrigerator at all times.
Head Space, Tonewood Brewing Company, Oaklyn
One of South Jersey's top craft breweries has no shortage of must-try IPAs. — the much-celebrated Fuego is the standard bearer. The New England-style IPA is a favorite at bars, restaurants and outdoor events. And then there is String Theory, Improv, Rift, Stratacaster, Monotone . well we could go on all day.
Head Space is a 'crushable' West Coast-style IPA from Tonewood Brewing Co. (Photo: Tammy Paolino/Courier-Post)
Recently, the brewery, which is undergoing a major expansion into a second location in nearby Barrington, brought back Head Space, a 6.8% ABV West Coast-style IPA which it describes as "crystal clear.''
In announcing the return on Instagram, Tonewood described the beer as "a clear and bright IPA brewed with 2 Row and a blend of specialty caramel malts, fermented with a classical American Ale yeast . hopped with Centennial, Mosaic and Simcoe with notes of grapefruit rinds, lemon and pine sap with a dry finish.''
It's undoubtedly a summer of "crushable'' beers, and Head Space meets the challenge
Tonewood's tasting room is closed, but curbside pickup is available.
Go: 215 W Clinton Ave, Oaklyn. 856-833-1500 tonewoodbrewing.com
Best Beers for Super Bowl LV
While not a national holiday, Super Bowl Sunday is almost looked upon and treated as one. Naturally, the beverage that goes hand in hand with football, and the one most choose to imbibe while watching the big game, is the all-American suds: beer. Here’s a rundown of some brews to match varying tastes and preferences of craft beer lovers.
1. Deschutes Brewery The Abyss
Origin: Bend, Oregon
Beer type: Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout
Price: $17.50 for 22 oz
Brewed by: Deschutes Brewery
At this time of year most of the country is bundled up for the cold winter, and this brew will warm up your tastebuds. Brewed with licorice, cherry bark and molasses and aged in a blend of new oak, bourbon and wine barrels, the name is a testament to its pitch-black motor oil hue.
Aromas of vanilla, dark fruits, prune, chocolate and licorice give way to complex flavors of espresso, bittersweet chocolate, vanilla, licorice and rich, sweet maltiness. Released in limited quantities since 2006, this 11.7% ABV imperial stout is one of the most sought after and highly respected beers in the world. It’s a prime candidate for aging, and a favored pastime for beer connoisseurs and craft beer establishments is to save vintages from year to year and drink them side by side to notice the subtle and not so subtle changes as the beer ages.
2. Dogfish Head Sixty-One Minute IPA
Origin: Milton, Delaware
Beer type: Beer-Wine Hybrid
Price: $11 for 12 oz four-pack
Brewed by: Dogfish Head Brewery
Dogfish Head is known for pushing the boundaries of new innovations to the favored IPA style and in this case merges wine with beer, something this brewery has been known to do. The numerical name serves as a reminder that this is Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA with one additional ingredient added: Californian Syrah grape must added during fermentation.
Once poured, a beautiful cranberry color attests to the marriage of wine with beer, and this addition weaves fruity flavors into the hoppy taste of the IPA character, giving it a dry red wine complexity. The homemade water color label was drawn by founder/president Sam Calagione, for which he creatively mixed green pigment with beer and red with wine to represent the beer/wine hybrid and finished with painted melted chocolate, which this brew pairs well with.
3. Anchor Brewing 2020 Christmas Ale
Origin: San Francisco, California
Beer type: Spiced Brown Ale/Winter Warmer
Price: $12 for 12 oz six-pack
Brewed by: Anchor Brewing
Since 1975 Anchor Brewing has created a distinctive Christmas Ale, and this year marks its 46th annual rendition. A collector’s item for many beer aficionados, the highly guarded secret recipe is different every year, along with the hand-drawn ubiquitous trees depicted on the labels, which this year are The Three Graces: giant sequoias in California’s Mariposa Grove in Yosemite, representing a time of togetherness with radiance, joy and hope. At 7%, this year marks the highest ABV and is the darkest of any previous versions.
This yearly gift to beer lovers brings forth a decadent mouthfeel of spice one would expect in a Winter Warmer and a big malty backbone with notes of chocolate, toasted marshmallows, burnt graham cracker and a smattering of pumpernickel. Don’t delay in procuring a bottle, as this seasonal usually doesn’t last past the winter season.
A Kveiking We Will Go IPA
Expect a straight-up American IPA that leans towards citrus and tropical fruit notes. It is lighter in color than many IPAs.
Yield: 5.5 US gal. (20.8 L)
The following beer recipe is featured in the March/April 2021 issue of Zymurgy magazine. Access this issue along with the archives with Zymurgy Online!
This American IPA recipe fermented with kveik yeast is featured in Ryan Kriesch's Zymurgy magazine article "Kveik: The Next Past Frontier."
Expect a straight-up American IPA that leans towards citrus and tropical fruit notes. It is lighter in color than many IPAs.
- 12 lb. (5.4 kg) American two-row malt
- 12 oz. (340 g) Carapils
- 1 oz. (28 g) Idaho 7, 13% a.a. @ 30 min
- 1 oz. (28 g) Sabro, 15.5% a.a. @ 15 min
- 1 oz. (28 g) Mosaic, 12.5% a.a. @ 5 min
- 1 oz. (28 g) Mosaic, 12.5% a.a., whirlpool
- 1 oz. (28 g) Sabro, 15.5%, a.a., whirlpool
- 2 oz. (57 g) Idaho 7, dry hop 2 days
- ADDITIONAL ITEMS
- ½ tablet Whirfloc @ 15 min
- 1 tsp. (5 mL) Wyeast Yeast Nutrient @ 10 min
- Imperial A44 Kveiking
Original Gravity: 1.061 (15°P)
Final Gravity: 1010 (2.6°P)
Mash at 152°F (67°C) for 60 minutes. Lauter, sparge, and collect wort. Boil 90 minutes, adding hops and other items as indicated. Chill to 70°F (21°C) and pitch yeast.
Pitch this one on the warm side, high 80’s or low 90’s Fahrenheit (low to mid 30s Celsius). Break out the carboy heater and get it hooked up to maintain that warm temperature throughout fermentation. It will be done with primary in 3 to 5 days. Let it rest as the temperature naturally falls to ambient. Once it has reached room temperature, rack to secondary to let the yeast finish up, and then dry hop for 2 days and package.
A Sixer of IPA Styles for Celebrating National IPA Day
Though many of the snootier snobs among us may dismiss India Pale Ales as gimmicky hop-bombs geared toward novices, the category still stands as not only the most popular styles, but one of the fastest growing in the beer world.
With ingenuity and innovation as hallmarks of the craft beer industry, those bitter, hoppy, and very flavor-forward brews, which were originally created to withstand the long journey from England to India in the 18th century, continue to transform and evolve into an ever-expanding array of sub genres. In honor of National IPA Day on August 6, we&rsquove put together a primer on six of the most popular sub-categories in the IPA family tree.
Even though this traditional style is defined by moderate to moderately-high hop aromas, those intense piney, resinous and sometimes fruity characteristics found in most American IPAs are largely missing. What you will find in their place is a well balanced hop bitterness that's highlighted by the grassier and earthier notes of English hops. Some commercial examples include Samuel Smith's India Ale, Fuller's IPA, and Brooklyn East India Pale Ale.
Those lines of demarcation that once split American IPAs into East Coast and West Coast camps are growing increasingly blurred. Traditionally, East Coast IPAs were defined by a complex malt character highlighted with a noticeable, but by no means overwhelming, presence of American hops. And West Coast varieties were extremely hop-forward with a simple malt character. But now it seems like craft brewers on both coasts are turning out tasty brews that could fall into either category. East Coast examples include Victory's Hop Devil and Dogfish Head&rsquos 60 Minute IPA. Representing the West Coast are Russian River's Blind Pig, Bear Republic Racer 5 and Lagunitas IPA. Beers like Bell&rsquos Two Hearted Ale and Ithaca&rsquos Flower Power do their best to defy both.
Double or Imperial
Along with ingenuity and innovation, the idea of constantly pushing the envelope serves as another fundamental aspect of the craft beer movement. And it&rsquos that impulse to come up with bigger, bolder brews that&rsquos given us Double and Imperial IPAs. Through doubling up on malts, boil times and of course, generous hop additions, American brewers have been turning out flavor-rich, sky-high ABV ales with super intense piney and citrusy hop aromas. Perhaps the best known examples are Russian River&rsquos Pliney the Elder, Bell&rsquos Hop Slam and Stone Ruination.
As legend has it, Belgian brewer Hildegard van Ostaden was so enamored by the super hoppy West Coast style IPAs she encountered on a visit to the U.S. that she began formulating Urthel&rsquos Hop-It immediately upon her return home. That synthesis of Old World Belgian brewing traditions and American audacity gave rise to a whole new sub category that combines the hoppy character of the American IPAs with the spicy notes or fruity esters found in Belgian brews. Examples include La Chouffe&rsquos Houblon IPA Tripel, Flying Dog Raging Bitch and Stillwater Artisanal Why Can&rsquot IBU.
Another common variation on American IPAs adds malted rye to the grain bill. That addition brings a spicy, bolder and sometimes grainy malt character to the brew that&rsquos typically offset by fruity, resinous and/or earthy hop notes. Exmples include Sixpoint Brewery's Righteous Ale, Founders Red's Rye IPA and Bear Republic's Hop Rod Rye.
This relatively new style swaps out the pale and crystal malts traditionally used in IPAs with darker roasted varieties. That produces an oftentimes black-as-night brew with pronounced roasted and toasted notes and range of hop profiles that can range from resinous and dank to fruity and floral. Examples include 21st Amendment Back in Black, Firestone Walker Wookey Jack, and Lagunitas NightTime.