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Over the last ten years, no beer category has seen a spike in popularity like that of craft IPAs–and what’s not to love? Crisp, refreshing, and brimming with bitter hoppiness, these flavor-packed brews pack a serious punch. However, not all IPAs are created equal.
“Even though craft beer arguably has had the best decade of its existence, you could argue that IPAs are the champion style of the entire movement,” says Zack Mack, owner of Alphabet City Beer Co. “What someone looks for in an IPA usually falls firmly into either the "old school" camp or "new school" haze trend, which has been going on for years, so it's not actually a trend.”
Mack explains that he forever tells people that the best IPAs are simply whatever is the freshest. “It's the style that degrades faster than basically any other, and part of the allure of visiting IPA-focused breweries is being able to get access to cans that were filled hours earlier.” From doubles to triples, East Coast to West Coast, and a variety of sub-categories in between, we’ve rounded up the best IPAs to drink no matter the occasion. Get ready for some serious refreshment.
Best Overall: Montauk Wave Chaser IPA
This ocean-inspired IPA is one of our favorites to drink year-round. Whether sitting beachside beneath the summer sun or dreaming of doing so in the colder weather months, this zesty IPA is perfect for quenching your thirst no matter where you’re at. Malty notes of tropical fruit, pine, and citrus rind burst from the beer’s semi-bitter palate. At 6.4% ABV, this stuff is as good as it gets.
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Best Easy to Find: Lagunitas IPA
Produced in the heart of California, this highly accessible IPA promises to satisfy your craving for hoppy ale. Tropical notes of citrus, resin, cedar and grapefruit rind lead to a bitter, thirst-quenching finish at 6.2% ABV. The beer’s malty body, persistent hop presence, and mild carbonation make this pick an all-around crowd-pleaser.
Best Double IPA: 21st Amendment Blah Blah Blah
This darker-hued Imperial (double) IPA from 21st amendment is toasty, tasty and seriously easy to drink. Unlike their other beers, the hops in Blah Blah Blah are added very late in the brewing process. The beer is then dry-hopped with five different hops, which lead to a thick, palate-coating finish and a hearty 8% ABV. This brew is all things resin, pine, and orange rind.
Best Triple IPA: Sierra Nevada Hoptimum
This Northern California gem is Sierra Nevada’s hoppiest beer in their lineup, though make no mistake–bold doesn’t mean aggressive. At 10.4% ABV, this flavor-rich triple IPA is produced with seven different hops. This beige-hued beer is loaded with flavors of melon, juicy pineapple, mandarin rind, hemp, and freshly cut herbs. Don’t let the melon-driven fruit-forwardness fool you–this ale packs a serious punch.
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Best Session IPA: Founders All Day IPA
This easy-to-find IPA is ideal for long days of drinking or pairing with your workday lunch (at just 4.8% ABV, you’ll feel more refreshed than bogged down). Hazy orange in the glass, this All Day IPA is loaded with flavors of fresh citrus, pine, fresh bread and lemon zest, which lead to a malty and satisfying finish. For weekends laden with day drinking, this low-ABV IPA is your best bet.
Best West Coast IPA: Brouwerij Bounce West Coast IPA
This delicious West Coast IPA is everything you want from this style of beer: it’s crisp, it’s bitter, and it’s produced with a variety of hops (citra, mosaic and centennial). Notes of grapefruit, orange rind, piney resin and crushed flowers dominate this beer’s dry and bitter palate. Medium carbonation, 6% ABV, and an overall robust palate make this brew super easy to drink.
Best East Coast IPA: Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
When compared against their West Coast counterparts, East Coast IPAs tend to be juicier, hazier, and a bit more fruit-driven. Because of the yeasts generally used in East Coast IPAs, brewers often use fewer hops in their regiment, which leads to less bitter beers and cloudier hues in the glass. This popular brew from Dogfish Head lands at 9% ABV and is loaded with juicy and citrus-driven fruit flavors that remain balanced by piney notes of resin and fresh herbs.
Best New England/Hazy IPA: Brewdog Hazy Jane IPA
This cloudy, golden-hued hazy IPA is everything you want from a New England style brew: it’s tropical, it’s tasty, and it’s almost too easy to drink. Smooth flavors of canned peaches, mango, pineapple juice, and guava lead to a soft, pleasantly bitter finish and an ABV of 7.2%. For something soft and certain to please the masses, this brew is your best bet.
Best Red IPA: Mother Earth Hoppy Red IPA
Never heard of red IPAs? Think of it as the lovechild of an American IPA and amber ale. This crisp and easy-drinking sub-style of IPAs show crimson hues in the glass, dry mouthfeels, and slightly bitter finishes. Mother Earth’s Hoppy Red IPA is loaded with floral-driven flavors of grapefruit, pine and sweet red malt. IPA lovers looking for something unique, give this 6% ABV brew a go.
Best American IPA: Bell’s Two Hearted Ale IPA
Produced in the Pacific Northwest (and named for the Two Hearted River in Michigan), this malty and fruit-driven IPA is loaded with flavors of citrus, pine, wheat bread and grapefruit rind. Sturdy backbone, a 7% ABV and a well-balanced hop profile make this delicious IPA one of our go-to all year-round. This is a great versatile option for beer lovers of all palate preferences.
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Best Juicy IPA: New Belgium Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze IPA
Hazy, juicy, citrus-driven and refreshing… what’s not to love? This palate-coating IPA is loaded with creamy flavors of pineapple, pear skin, citrus zest and bread. Medium-bodied, 7.5% ABV and pleasantly bitter, this solid choice is not too fruity and not too hoppy–think of it as the Goldilocks of beers. It’s just right.
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Vicki Denig is a food, drink and travel journalist based between New York and Paris. Besides Liquor.com, her writing also appeared in Decanter, Departures, Food & Wine and Wine Enthusiast.