Top 10 IPAs to Try

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American craft brewing is a competitive business and nowhere more so than within the India Pale Ale category. Each year, more microbreweries and international craft beer makers enter the market which makes selecting the best IPA a delicious treat. If you are ready to treat your taste buds, here is our take on the top ten IPAs worth trying this season.

 

 

 

1. AleSmith

AleSmith IPA

It’s hard to pick the best Indian Pale Ale from the crowded list of contenders, but AleSmith IPA at 7.25% ABV shines. A balanced IPA that is hop forward, it relies heavily on brewing traditions from Britain and Belgium. The company is no stranger to recognition and has won many awards over the years. The ale is conditioned within the bottle and features the freshness of the citrus flavor of grapefruit combined with the nuttiness of walnut and a clean backbone of malt.

2. Lagunitas

Lagunitas IPA

The California-based Anchor Steam and Sierra Nevada breweries set the stage for the popularity of India Pale Ales when they began producing small batches in the 1980s. As the taste of IPAs caught on with the public, more breweries began experimentation. One of the best results from this period comes from another California brewery, the Lagunitas. Their IPA at 6.2% ABV is found on tap all across the country with clean hints of herbs and pine that has helped to the taste for American craft beers across the nation.

3. Smuttynose

Smuttynose IPA

East coast brewer Smuttynose features an India Pale Ale that is not for the uninitiated. The earthy brew clocks in with a 6.9% ABV and features a funky kind of bitterness that pairs well with its strong malt backbone. While it is full-bodied, Smuttynose’s IPA entry is less resinous in comparison to others on this list.

4. Sierra Nevada Torpedo

Sierra Nevada Torpedo

The Sierra Nevada brewery was an early pioneer in the US craft brewing industry. Insiders credit the company with creating demand for the product with their excellent brews. Those long years of experience have paid off with the Torpedo at 7.2% APV. The good news is that this India Pale Ale is available year-round.

The name comes from the steel dry hopping equipment used to create the brew. It compares favorably to their Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and packs plenty of pine and resin flavors indigenous to the west coast. It exudes a strong hop aroma and has just the right level of bitterness with hefty doses of Citra, Magnum, and Crystal hops.

5. Cigar City Humidor Jai Alai

Cigar City Jai Alai

As a general rule, the fresher the IPA is, the better the flavor will be. Cigar City turns this rule on its head with Jai Alai at 7.5% ABV. Aged in cedar that successfully combines with the piney characteristics of the hops, the process successfully mellows the citrus elements that predominate in other India Pale Ales.

6. Bear Republic Racer 5

Beer Republic Racer 5

Bear Republic also calls the west coast home and packs their Racer 5 at 7.5% ABV with signature hops including Centennial, Chinook, Columbus, and Cascade from the region. A full-bodied beer that is sure to satisfy, it is a shimmering balance of citrus and pine. That artistry has garnered top awards within the industry including the Great American Beer Festival’s first prize in 1997 and 2009.

7. Ballast Point Sculpin

Ballast Point Sculpin IPA

 

The San Diego based Ballast Point brewery has garnered attention in the craft beer world with a pile of gold medals. Their India Pale Ale, the Sculpin at 7% APV is hopped at five separate point during production. The light-bodied beer features plenty of fruit notes including peach, apricot, lemon, and mango. The good news is that it is widely distributed across the US so IPA lovers should be on the look out for this taste treat.

8. Russian River Blind Pig

Russian River Blind Pig

With its crisp and complex tones, Russian River’s Blind Pig is full and hoppy. In other words, it is everything that an IPA should be. With a 6.1% APV, this India Pale Ale is setting the standard for its type.

9. Firestone Walker Union Jack

Fireston Union Jack

The Paso Robles brewery is justly proud of its Firestone Walker Union Jact at 7.5% APV. With an impressive number of industry awards, eleven just since 2008 in the US as well as in international competitions, it is winning the hearts of IPA lovers everywhere. Dry hopped three times during the brewing process with a hearty four pounds of hops per barrel, it provides crispness and balance in each swallow. The brewers seem to have discovered the perfect malt to hop ratio in which neither flavor overwhelms the other.

10. Bell’s Two Hearted

Two Hearted

The last entry on our list shines when it comes to balance, as well. Maltier and fruitier than expected for such a fine IPA, it has less of the pine aroma than most other beers already discussed. The Michigan-based brewery allows the hops to claim their place although they never overwhelm the senses. It’s decidedly different from the other IPAs, but may be the best balanced of them all.

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