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!
26 Comments Add yours
Have to try Resin by six point. One of my favorites
Great list. One of my new favs i think everyone should try, if they do it might make their top 10, is knee deep brewing co. Simtra and hop shortage. Amazing. I love pliny. I feel like west coast ipa is one of the most consistent IPAs.
Thanks for such a outstanding submit as well as the critique, Im totally impressed! Keep stuff like this coming.
How about kona fire rock delightful
Sierra Nevada’s seasonal Hoptimum is easily my favorite (although I am not typically a SN fan), high alcohol content but you absolutely wouldn’t know it from the taste.. Starts WAY too smooth (which is a good thing) and has a nice soft blend of grapefruit and pine and tends to have less of a juniper presence and more of a smoothness of, say, a Dales Pale ale.. yum! Rest of list: Bells Hopslam is delightful and the Stone IPA is very palatable and the Lagunitas (as mentioned a few times) is very tasty, Founders Centennial is almost too perfect to enjoy.
Great list. I love every one on the list that I have tried and now want to try the others. I will second those who mention Dogfish Head and Lagunitas as great IPAs.
Seriously, you left out every DFH Minute, Firestone Walker Double Jack and Union Jack, Heavy Seas Loose Cannon, Victory Hopdevil, I could go on…The fact that you put Racer 5 in front of all that I just mentioned is laughable…good try though.
First of all condescension will get you nowhere in life. Second, Racer 5 is a CLASSIC IPA. Clearly you don’t know the definition or appreciation of a classic. Third, Firestone Walker Double Jack nor Victory Hopdevil, while great IPA’s(like so many others) is in the Top 10 of IPA’s. Union Jack is quite wonderful, but this is a Top 10, and you really don’t know that Union Jack nor Dogfish Head, which was a tough call for me to not include, wasn’t 11 or 12. It’s always difficult to narrow down, and people will always disagree. Fourth, and most importantly, this is an OPINION piece, it’s not claiming to be the end-all-be-all of lists, but merely my opinion. Other people have kindly disagreed with my list, and never with the patronizing tone you have displayed. You might trying practicing the concept of respect before you write notes like these.
Couldnt agree more there are to many beers in the world to harp on the fact that a few got left off. Most likely responded to this list while drinking his high class IPA out of a pure gold chaucer, get real guy. Enjoy life, enjoy Beer. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction on what i have to try this weekend.
Great list but I would have to leave a spot for dogfish head and lagunitas definitely.
Good list! I have to rep the east coast though, we have a fast growing craft brew thing going on too. Victory HopDevil and HopWallop are two favorites along with Dogfish Head’s “minute” collection.
You should give a try to these here in Austin TX:
512 Brewings IPA – http://512brewing.com/
Jester King Rye IPA – http://www.jesterkingbrewery.com
Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que Hop Summit, Hop Zombie – http://www.unclebillys.com/
Fantastic list! Unfortunately I am an east coaster and pliney has escaped my grasp. But i agree with most of your picks. The only one i would ask you to consider is ruination by stone. A staple of big doubles if you ask me.
here are a couple you may wanna try…
Ithaca Flower Power.
central city Red Racer IPA
New England Brewing Ghandhi-Bot
And is it just me or is Sculpin just entirely overrated? I always find it overly carbonated too. I prefer the Big Eye to Sculpin
Good list. I’d be interested to try the Weyerbacher and Cigar City IPAs. If you get a chance, try Kern River Citra, a great representation of the style, from a brewpub located about an hour outside of Bakersfield. So bright and refreshing, though I think it’s just available on tap, and not in many places.
I’m surprised Founders Centenial didn’t make the list. By far one of my favs, though, the Elder is my favorite as well.
I’m surprised Founders Harvest didn’t make the list.
Nice list! I’ve had 4 of those 10, so not bad. I’d have included Avery The Maharaja, Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, Heavy Seas Loose Cannon, Lennys RIPA, Stone IPA, Gubna, Hopslam and if you’ll indulge a Belgian Style one, Green Flash Le Freak, off the top of my head, LOL. Narrowing to 10 for this style was for sure difficult, right? Can’t wait to try the other 6 from your list.
Cool post Laurie! I can definitely put bear racer 5 and dreadnaught in my top 10. Have you have Burtons Baton by Dogfish Head? I’d put that probably as number one, though I havent had the other eight you’ve recommended…
Oh, and west coast, though it didn’t make a noticeable impression.
My favorite IPA not on your list is Smuttynose Finestkind. Always a treat to look forward to.
You had me at Pliny and Sculpin… 🙂
I’m a huge fan of Bootlegger’s Knuckle Sandwich when it’s available, I highly recommend it if you can find it.
First up, thanks for taking one for the team 🙂 Rating IPA’s for me would be hardest group for me to judge by far.
Seeing that you included both IPAs and Imperial IPAs the decisons get even tougher for me.
I could not agree more on Pliny, Dreadnaught, Sculpin and Racer 5. I have not had the pleasure of trying Cigar City Jai Alai IPA, Bell’s The Oracle or Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA
Three Imperial (double) IPAs that would be on my list for sure;
Firestone-Walker – Double Jack
Bootleggers – Knuckle Sandwich
Captain Lawerence – Imperial IPA
As for IPAs, Lagunitas IPA is a winner for me.
Keep up the good work.
It’s hard to argue with any of those, but Pliny is a bit obvious. Haven’t had the Nelson. Have you ever had Great Lakes Brewing Co’s Lake Erie Monster DIPA? For whatever reason, it doesn’t rate well on RateBeer/BA, but it’s one of my favorite DIPA’s around. Also, this list has a nice mix of midwestern breweries with the typical West Coast fair.
Surly Abrasive or Furious would fit nicely in this list….
Dreadnaught! ARRRR. ♥