The IPA still remains the king of American craft beer. According to a recent estimate from Dr. Bart Watson, chief economist of the Brewers Association, IPA accounts for roughly 35 to 40 percent of U.S. craft beer sales. Its popularity has sparked a sea of variations on the style over the years: New England-Style IPA, Double IPA, Triple IPA, Session IPA, Brut IPA, Lo-Cal IPA and so on.
Out of Beer Advocate’s top 10-rated US beers, five are IPAs. But these are the white whales most of us can’t get hands-on — Pliny the Elder, King Julius, Heady Topper. These beers require traveling to breweries on release days or ponying up for them online. But you don’t have to hunt these rarities down though to enjoy a good IPA. The beauty of America’s love of the IPA is that you can get a good one just about anywhere (even online). And the following 15 IPAs are about as reliable — and available — as IPAs get.
Additional reporting by Jack Seemer and Will Price.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Hazy Little Thing
While Sierra Nevada’s iconic Pale Ale fits the guidelines for this list, the California brewery’s Hazy Little Thing falls more inline with today’s IPA tastes. This New England-Style IPA has taken the beer world by storm, at one point in October 2019 seeing an increase in volume by 160 percent year-over-year. It’s citrusy and fresh thanks to a combination of Citra, Magnum, Simcoe, Comet, Mosaic and El Dorado hops. When it comes to a Hazy IPA you can find in your grocery store, we find ourselves gravitating to this one more often than not.
Brewery Location: Chico, CA
Bell’s Brewery Two Hearted Ale
There’s a reason Bell’s Two Hearted Ale has been voted by Zymurgy readers as the “Best Beer in America” for three years consecutively: it’s the definition of an American IPA and you can get it just about everywhere. Unlike the other beers on this list, Two Hearted Ale features just a single hop, Centennial, which gives it a floral taste and smell. If you’re counting calories, check out the recently released Light Hearted Ale.
Brewery Location: Kalamazoo, MI
New Belgium Brewing Voodoo Ranger
While New Belgium became known years ago for Fat Tire (and then its incredible sour program), Voodoo Ranger took the beer world by storm when it was re-launched in 2017 as a unified series. New Belgium now produces at least five distinct Voodoo Ranger variants but the flagship IPA version is an excellent, clean-tasting IPA hopped with Mosaic and Amarillo (among Nugget, Cascade, Simcoe and Chinook).
Brewery Location: Fort Collins, CO
Dogfish Head Brewery 60 Minute IPA
Led by the vision of Sam Calagione, winner of a 2017 James Beard Award, Dogfish Head makes what it calls “off-centered ales for off-centered people.” Its 60-Minute IPA may be the most centered beer in Caglione’s repertoire, however, as the impeccably balanced 17-year-old beer remains relevant as ever. It’s light gold in color, moderately bitter and incredibly crisp.
Brewery Location: Milton, DE
Founders Brewing Co. All Day IPA
While All Day IPA might have been the most successful session beer in the country at one time, Founders Brewing Co. has had a fall from grace after a 2019 lawsuit in which they were accused of discrimination against employees. Abhorrent as that is, the liquid itself stands up. At just 4.7 percent ABV, it’s light in both body and mouthfeel, though surprisingly complex for a beer of its gravity. It also launched the now-standard 15-pack. But it may eventually be left behind in the dust as more Lo-Cal IPAs continue to be launched (All Day has 147 calories).
Brewery Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Founded in 1996 in Escondido, California, Stone Brewing has become one of the most respected craft brewers in the world. While the “Enjoy By” series and Neverending Haze have recently garnered praise from beer drinkers across the country, it’s the 20-plus-year-old IPA, which features eight different hops, that helped put West Coast IPAs on the map. It leans a little more on the hoppy bitter end of the spectrum, but it’s still very much a leader in the traditional IPA category.
Brewery Location: Escondido, CA
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Lagunitas Brewing Company IPA
Lagunitas IPA might be the one beer on this list you can find just about anywhere you look — on tap and in bottles. Thanks to being owned by Heineken, even the diviest of dive bars oftentimes have a keg of this balanced IPA. The hop bitterness of this IPA is married perfectly with a caramel malt body that mellows out the hops and brings forward more of the citrusy flavors.
Brewery Location: Petaluma, CA
Firestone Walker Brewing Company Mind Haze
Firestone Walker was one of the first nationally distributed breweries to find success with a shelf-stable hazy IPA. This tropically-flavored IPA is brewed with Cashmere and Mandarina hops and then dry-hopped with El Dorado, Idaho 7, Azacca, Mosaic and Cashmere.
Brewery Location: Paso Robles, CA
Brooklyn Brewery East IPA
Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver is a student of English brewing. As such, the iconic brewery’s East IPA (which became a year-round offering in 1996) blends British tradition with American innovation. British malt balances out the blend of hops quite well, creating a toffee malt palate and a clean hoppy finish.
Brewery Location: Brooklyn, NY
Cigar City Brewing Jai Alai
If tropical Florida vibes were an IPA, it’d be Jai Alai. It’s bright and citrusy thanks to an impeccable blend of seven different hops. A standout for quite some time, it’s now readily available due to an ever-expanding distribution network from Cigar City.
Brewery Location: Tampa, FL
Goose Island IPA
Goose Island’s flagship IPA harkens back to a little more of the piney, bitter IPAs. That’s thanks to the use of some more characteristically resiny hops like Pilgrim, Celeia, Cascade and Centennial. A grapefruit-like citrus is to be found though with a smooth flavor and a moderate lingering bitterness.
Brewery Location: Chicago, IL
Revolution Brewing Anti-Hero
Chicago’s beloved Revolution Brewing may not be on the name-recognition level of some of the other breweries on this list, but it should be. First brewed in 2010, this flagship features a blend of Warrior, Chinook, Centennial and Amarillo hops for a unique floral and citrus combination that finishes clean and crisp.
Brewery Location: Chicago, IL
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Torpedo Extra IPA
The second IPA from Sierra Nevada on this list, Torpedo Extra IPA gets its name from a dry-hopping device Sierra Nevada invented in 2009 called the Hop Torpedo. This essentially circulates beer with hops in a way that imparts flavor without bitterness. The beer itself, hopped with Magnum, Crystal and Citra varietals, is darker than most IPAs with notes of pine and citrus and less perceived bitterness than Pale Ale (despite a higher grading on the IBUs scale).
Brewery Location: Chico, CA
Elysian Brewing Space Dust IPA
This classic West Coast IPA may not be as familiar to East Coasters, but it is most certainly a supermarket gem — especially since AB InBev owns Elysian and is pushing this beer hard in more and more markets everyday. It’s on the heavier side at 8.2 percent ABV but the bitterness is balanced by dry-hopping Citra and Amarillo. It’s a decent middleground between the old school IPAs of yesteryear and the en vogue fruity Hazy IPAs.
Brewery Location: Seattle, WA
Oskar Blues Brewery Dale’s Pale Ale
Dale’s Pale Ale has been a craft beer staple since 2002 when it became the first canned craft beer in America. Much like Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale, it harkens back to the popularity of the American Pale Ale (which is of course, America’s take on the India Pale Ale) before the haze craze. It features more pale malts and a citrusy hop character and is still just as pleasant to drink today as it was back in 2002.
Brewery Location: Longmont, CO
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