I love beer folks. Down to earth, warm and welcoming, always happy to talk about their passion for the sudsy glory that is BEER. I've been asked for awhile to list my top IPA's and it's always been a tough call. There are so many great ones! But finally, I have come to a decision, and believe me, I did not arrive here without alot of thought. What follows are the beers that I adore, I crave, I want to drink more and more of, until my palate is as sticky as the hop resin lying on my tongue. So sit back, grab a beer, and read on as I give you my list of the Top 10 IPA’s in the country. And before you even think it, yes it's West Coast heavy. I live in IPA heartland after all!! Russian River Pliny the Elder, 8% ABV: Always at the very top of my IPA lists, I never cease to be amazed at how delicious this beer is. This "papa" beer to Pliny the Younger has a beautiful nose of fresh herbs, grass, and freshly sliced tree fruit (think peach and pear). Your happy palate is greeted with a wonderful piney resin on a firm malt backbone. A beer that defines balance. Truly refined and elegant, this in my humble opinion, is one of the finest beers ever created. You can quote me on that.
Three Floyds Dreadnaught IPA, 9.5% ABV: Tropical fruits, such as mango, papaya, and pineapple dance alongside apricot, peach,and citrus (namely grapefruit). As it warms, floral and grassy notes emerge. On the palate, all that fruit comes through with a nice caramel mid-palate, and peppery/hop bitterness on the finish. Balanced and quite smooth. For you West Coast hopheads, this won’t leave your jaw in a clench, like a SoCal IPA, but that isn’t a bad thing. This is a wonderfully crafted beer, and there is a reason it’s so famous and well-loved.
Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, 7% ABV: A So-Cal favorite, this beer has reached cult status in other states. Always at the top of the IPA game, Sculpin stands apart from its piney brethren. A delicious nose of tropical fruit (mango, papaya), tree fruit (apricot, peach), and citrus (lemon, grapefruit) give you an instant dose of refreshment. All of these delightful notes follow through on the palate, giving you a clean and crisp IPA, with a nice bitter, dry note that keeps you wanting another sip. Brilliantly crafted.
Cigar City Jai Alai IPA, 7.5% ABV: Cigar City’s most famous and sought-after beer! Definite tobacco notes on the nose and palate. Citrus fruits of grapefruit and orange mingle with stone fruits of peach and apricot. Sweet caramel notes, and oh yes. I smell Simcoe! Piney, resiny hop goodness. On the palate, all of those wonderful aromas blend seamlessly, yet powerfully. This is a serious IPA. A must try for hopheads!
Green Flash West Coast IPA, 7% ABV: No IPA list would be complete without this trademark brew. A beer that defines the West Coast IPA movement (the name works!). A noseful of citrus (lemon and grapefruit) alongside that Pacific pine needle and sap resin. A defined hop punch in the palate with a lingering bitterness, that tells you outright, THIS is a West Coast IPA. A classic in every California craft beer bar, this brew oozes the essence of a style that has become it’s own category.
Bell’s The Oracle, 10.4% ABV: While their Two-Hearted Ale is their most beloved, I personally am a bigger fan of this Double IPA. While the the Two-Hearted has lovely, almost delicate floral and citrus notes, this one hits you with a noseful of pine, grapefruit, and herb with a rich, full mouthfeel. With its piney, resiny qualities there is a defined punch of bitterness and vibrancy in the beer, while the Two-Hearted is more elegant. Either way, you will be happy with Bell’s offerings.
Port Brewing Wipeout IPA, 7% ABV: I love having this beer on my kegerator. Great for sharing with company on a warm, sunny SoCal day. This just smells West Coast. Holla! Exploding with hoppy aromas of citrus, herbs, pine, grass, and tree sap. All of that vibrancy comes bursting from the 5 hop varieties used: Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Simcoe, and Summit. This is the kind of beer I just want to stick my nose in ALL of the time. On the palate, piney resin and bright citrus notes with a nice hop bite bitterness on the finish.
Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA, 9% ABV: Made with one of my favorite hop varieties! And here’s why: The nose is a wonderfully intense pine forest (courtesy of the Simcoe hop) Refreshing herbal nose with citrus, which follows through on the palate. Good bitterness, with balance without being overwhelming. A still relatively unknown brewery nationwide, these guys are churning out delicious beers, and I am a huge fan.
Alpine Nelson, 7% ABV: One of my happiest IPA discoveries in the last year. This isn’t just your ordinary So-Cal IPA. This baby has rye in it. Vibrant notes of citrus (grapefruit, orange), grass, and pine mingle with hints of malty grain and bread. The latter appears on the palate, lending the IPA a roundness and complexity that is absolutely delicious. Alpine does a brilliant job of melding the earthy grain quality with the hop vibrancy to create a refreshing take on the IPA formula.
Bear Republic Racer 5, 7.5% ABV: So vibrant! Tons of pine resin, citrus juice and peel, pepper, spice, and just the right dose of hop funk. It’s like Goldilocks and her perfect bed. Jussst right. Fantastic punch of bitterness on the palate. Finish lingers in the jaw. You hopheads KNOW what I am talking about. Truly a classic in the ever-expanding IPA universe. As Bear Republic says about this beer, “There is a trophy in every glass.”
So let's hear it! What are YOUR top IPA's? Did I miss your favorite? I look forward to hearing about your IPA passion....
Until next time,
Fall in love with the hop and as always, Drink Craft Beer!