Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Beer >
May 19, 2008 05:26 PM

Best IPA

I am an IPA guy through and through. Dogfish Head 60 minute is tops for me, although I recently had a Snake Dog and thought it was pretty close. Harpoon IPA is my staple. I also love Sierra Nevada Pale Ale which doesn't claim to be an IPA, but nonetheless.

Other votes?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. Check out Green Flash WC IPA (recently became available in MA) while its still fresh. Original shipment is about to turn the corner - after another month, you'll never know which ones are fresh and which ones aren't since they're not dated.

      Bear Republic Racer 5 is a great IPA - but I haven't purchased any bottles - I just drink it whenever its on tap at Redbones.

      This year's Smuttynose Big A IPA was just released last week if you like them big. And if you do, head to CBC ASAP while this year's Red God is still flowing.

      4 Replies
      1. re: LStaff

        LStaff is right on with Green Flash WC, their entire line is awesome. Racer 5 is also can't miss, look for Apex from them as well. Pliny the Elder from Russian River is great. I would steer clear of all Smuttynose, the East coast breweries CANNOT brew IPA.

        1. re: CAMRA

          Dogfish Head and Victory (among other obvious names) make some of the best in my opinion. Just because it isnt loaded with wonderful cascade west coast style doesnt make it a bad IPA.

          1. re: Insidious Rex

            Grand Teton's Sweetgrass IPA is really tasty.

        2. re: LStaff

          Wow, over two years later, and I still think GF WC IPA is one of the better ones we get to see on the east coast.

        3. There have been recent threads on this but it is always a worthy topic to start fresh in my opinion.

          Had the pleasure of opening and drinking a Bells Big Head IPA last night, mind blowing to say the least. here are my all time favorites (not all typical IPAs, some double..etc)

          Dogfish 90 minute
          Bells Hopslam
          Stone Arrogant Bastard
          Goose Island IPA
          Victory Hop Devil
          Troegs Nugget Nectar
          Alesmith IPA
          Founders Harvest
          Bells Two Hearted
          Surly Furious
          Weyerbacher Double Simcoe
          Urthel Hop-It

          28 Replies
          1. re: yankeefan

            Arrogant Bastard is technically an amber, not an IPA. Stone's IPA, and their Ruination DIPA, are stellar examples of the IPA style. Bell's Two Hearted is an amazing beer.

            1. re: Josh

              Youre right, I personally taste it being an IPA and thats why I listed. Also, Nugget Nectar is technically an 'imperial amber' but by all means is an IPA in my opinion. Both are absolutely tremendous.

              Didnt list Sierra Celebration, also not listed but I would find it hard to argue against this also tasting like a top notch IPA.

              Just writing about IPAs makes my mouth water.

              1. re: Josh

                How exactly can a DIPA be a "stellar example" of an IPA? I expect something very different from the two.
                And from the suggestions given so far it looks as though we are discussing AIPA (with the exception of Urthel which is made closer to the American style).


                1. re: Chinon00

                  I just had a bottle of the Urthel Hop It and do not see how it could be compared to an AIPA. Tasted like a Belgian blonde with some residual bitterness and a color midway between a Sierra PA and Miller Lite.
                  As for great IPAs, I will gladly take a Racer 5, Green Flash WC IPA, Firstone Union Jack, RR Blind Pig, Port Wipeout, or 21st Ammendment 21A IPA. Now I am thirsty.

                  1. re: pininex

                    Per their website Urthel Hop-it is a "Superior Hoppy Blonde Ale". And to be clear I stated that is made "closer to the American style" of IPA.
                    Also from the site: "[f]ollowing a visit to the American Northwest in January, 2005, Hildegard returned to Belgium enthusiastic about of the different IPA's (Indian Pale Ale) she had tasted. With her passion for barley, yeast and especially hops, she wanted to brew an IPA of her own. It had to be special, an hommage to hops in the style of American Craft Brewers, but with a real Flemish touch. Her touch!

                  2. re: Chinon00

                    Funny, after I typed that I had a feeling someone would make mention of it. Stone's Ruination is a very early DIPA in terms of the style, so I think it's much closer to an IPA than what a DIPA has evolved into. It's "only" around 8% alcohol, and is very, very hoppy, and not especially malty. When I think of the modern DIPA, I think of a beer with substantial malt, as well as substantial hops. I believe the Ruination is classified as DIPA because it does have more alcohol than a typical IPA, and is hoppier, but it doesn't have that same high level of maltiness. If you taste the Ruination side-by-side with the IPA, you'll see what I mean.

                    1. re: Josh

                      My comments are not directed primarily at you but I’ve noticed that on here and on other food oriented websites whenever favorite IPAs are requested often an equal (and sometimes greater) number of DIPA will be suggested. Well, I think that we need to learn, appreciate and respect each style as defined otherwise I don’t see the point of having styles at all.

                      And when an ~8%abv IPA (and at 100 IBUs) is NOT considered as extreme or “imperial” or “double” but rather I guess “typical” then where have we drifted to?


                      1. re: Chinon00

                        Well, I've seen a number of standard IPAs come in around 6-7%. So to me an additional percentage point doesn't seem that significant, especially when a number of the doubles start hitting 9 and 10%.

                        You make a good point, I'm not really disagreeing with you. Sometimes at the extreme ends of given styles, there's enough overlap that someone who likes one might also like the other. I wouldn't hesitate to give an IPA fan a glass of Pliny the Elder, because as DIPAs go, it's quite approachable and very similar to a standard IPA.

                        1. re: Josh

                          Speaking of Piney the Elder, I had it tonight, and to me Piney the Younger is a better beer. I know its a Triple IPA and we are suppose to be talking about just IPA's, but it has yet to be mentioned. It is a must try if your local bar can get a hold of a it.

                          I know Alesmith's IPA has been mentioned before, but it is a great IPA and worth a try for those who haven't had it.

                          1. re: JonDough

                            In your opinion, outside of scale, what to you makes "Younger" better than "Elder"?


                            1. re: Chinon00

                              I guess it comes down to preference, I haven't had the chance to taste them side by side yet. This is all my opinion, so I am sure someone will disagree with me.

                              The Younger is less bitter and the taste of pine is less pronounced, it actually tastes less hoppy to me. The Elder is more of a hop-bomb, with a bitter finish. I really like the citrus flavors of grapefruit, orange, lemon, apricot, the malt backbone and the dry finish of the Younger. The Younger seems to be better balanced and carbonated as well . It doesn't taste like a beer that is 11% alcohol.

                              1. re: JonDough

                                Interesting. I prefer the Elder for pretty much the same reasons. I find the Younger too malty for my tastes, and don't like the high level of alcohol. I like the crisp, piney, citrusy zing of the Elder quite a bit.

                                1. re: Josh

                                  I am with you on that. The Younger is a bit too sweet and alcohol laden for me. Still its very good, you just cannt have more than two.

                                  1. re: MVNYC

                                    Let's not forgot Blind Pig, another outstanding IPA from Russian River.

                                    1. re: tofuburrito

                                      all i can say is northern California comes with the best ipa in the country racer 5, blind pig, celebration i am so proud to be from nor cal i love russian river brewery

                                2. re: JonDough

                                  I'm with you on that but truth be told I love them both. I actually like Alpine's Exponential Hoppiness more than Pure Hoppiness for similar reasons.

                                      1. re: Josh

                                        I heard an NPR report about the historical figure Pliny the Elder and the show hosts pronounced Pliny in a way that would rhyme with skinny rather than the usual way I hear the beer pronounced (rhyming with piney).

                                        1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                          Yeah - apparently that's the correct pronunciation.

                                          Beer geeks often are bad with that. Diacetyl is one I hear mispronounced a lot.

                                          1. re: Josh

                                            How would one mispronounce "diacetyl"?

                                            1. re: RB Hound

                                              The "e" should be long, and the stress should be on the third syllable. I usually hear it pronounced with the stress on the second syllable, with a schwa pronunciation for the "e".

                                                1. re: Josh

                                                  Both Merriam-Webster and Oxford say that both of those pronunciations are acceptable. Back in my college days (where I took many a chemistry class and lab), I almost always heard the second pronunciation.

                                                  1. re: RB Hound

                                                    The dictionary guides I've seen on this are pretty unanimous in that the "e" can be either a long or short one, but the stress remains on the third syllable (I meant third, not second, above) and the e is not a schwa (that's the upside down e, not the e with the little u shape above it).

                          2. re: Chinon00

                            Just a friendly discussion here, no need to get overly technical.\

                            to avoid this conflict, lets maybe describe this thread as your favorite hoppy beers, annoys me when technicalities enter. Its all in good fun.

                            1. re: yankeefan

                              Pointing out that we might be confusing and melding two different styles is "get[ting] overly technical"?
                              And reducing the conversation to "favorite hoppy beers" as you suggest is more simplistic than where the original post could have taken us.

                              To respond to the OP, Weyerbacher Hops Infusion I think is a solid example of a very good AIPA. Per their website they use seven types of hops: Simcoe, Magnum, Cascade, Liberty, Saaz, Fuggles and E. Kent Goldings. Once it warms a bit the complexity kicks in and the beer becomes very interesting I find.


                              1. re: Chinon00

                                Thats fair, I wasnt trying to be difficult. Always do like your insights on this but Im not much into forcing beers into a category. but yum.... Simcoe..

                                I want to invent a new category for Nugget Nectar: DSA- delicious strong amber

                      2. No one's mentioned Anchor Liberty....that's another I'd put on the good list.

                        19 Replies
                        1. re: podence

                          Tell us what you like about it.


                          1. re: Chinon00

                            Probably what I like most is that I first had one with Fritz Maytag the owner of Anchor Brewing after a very cool, low key tour of the brewery about 25 years ago. But you don't need that experience to enjoy it. Good head, good carbonation. Medium body. Crisp, bitter, slightly citrus flavor. Probably not the hoppiest, but certainly hoppy. Cool looking label.

                          2. re: podence

                            Not sure why my comment was removed, but no matter how you slice it Liberty Ale isn't an IPA. That's a fact, not an opinion. It's classified as an American Pale Ale. Sorry if this offends anyone.

                            1. re: Josh

                              You are absolutely right. I often wonder why some of my comments are removed as well.

                              1. re: Josh

                                Well, since the beginning of my "good beer" experience pre-dates the craft era and the ensuing beer style explosion (some of it driven by home brew competition, which I feel doesn't always "work" with commercial beers) and its sub-sub-styles, I try not to get involved in "What style beer is this?" arguments. I was just noting (on another beer site) that the early Michael Jackson- who is pretty much the "father" of many beer style classifications- books (World Guide, Pocket Guide), listed only 20-25 beer styles and now there are that many "American Ale" styles listed on BA.

                                I *like* the fact that the many beer styles can assist me in shopping a new brand but I don't like the rigidity some feel is necessary. I like to think of beer styles as closer to a color wheel, than sorting mail into pigeon holes. When one's over in the "torquise" section, when does "green" become "blue"? Sometimes its just the eye of the beholder.

                                Certainly, with beer styles there are "mis-files", by both brewers (Alexander Keith's IPA, Miller Lite a "pilsener") AND by the two biggest beer website (when I first started paying attention to the rating sites, Rolling Rock was listed as a "pale ale" on one of them- no doubt by a rater confused by the term "pale lager" on the label). Too, there are IPA's not labeled as such by the brewer- S-N calls both "Celebration" and "Anniversary" ales "IPA's" on their website, but not their label. Note, too, that BA and RB style lists aren't the same and in many cases a beer's style is simply what the first lister decides it is.

                                So, as much as I hate to do it, Josh, I'll disagree (sorta) that it's a "fact" that Liberty is an "APA" rather than an "IPA". I'll say that it *is* generally recognized by most beer people as an APA but I do have a problem with the word "fact". I agree that it's not simply one's "opinion" that determines a beer style ("informed opinion" is needed, at least) but there's always going to be a "grey" area where the styles overlap or when a beer pre-dates- or creates- a later recognized beer style.

                                Seems I recall a Maytag interview with beer writer Lew Bryson where he was specifically ask that question and he said (paraphasing) that an IPA wasn't necessarily what he was aiming at but the results (hoppy, all malt ale) were pretty much along the lines of what craft IPA's were to start from. I suppose one could also say that Liberty pretty much *created* the "American Pale Ale" style (in some of his books, Jackson just calls them "American Ales").

                                Obviously, the 20+ "American Ale" styles didn't exist in the 1970's when Maytag created Liberty Ale (20 US *ales* probably didn't exist then) and, perhaps somewhat relative, the term "India Pale Ale" was still listed in industry magazines as a *brand name* owned by Falstaff, brewers of Ballantine India Pale Ale (which, by current style guidelines *could* fall into the "double/imperial IPA" pigeonhole based on ABV). Brewers Digest's annual "Brewery Guide" listed it as such as late as 1984- around the same time Bert Grant's IPA- generally recognized as the "first" craft IPA.

                                I suppose part of my "rejection" of rigid beer style classification is that often (like in music and other fields) the most interesting beers are often ones that step outside the box and "violate" a rule or jump a boundary line. Going back to a beer like Thomas Hardy's (which has been called a number of styles- old ale, barleywine, etc) or a "bastard" style like porter (originally brewed as an ale, brewed with lager yeast in the US and the Baltic countries- well, sometimes -g- ), etc.

                                But, I agree, don't know *why* your comment would have been deleted and I, too, find it extremely frustrating when the friendly debates are cut off without explanation. (When it's happened to me, it's usually a longer post that I put some thought into like...oh, damn... the above).

                                1. re: JessKidden

                                  Great post. In some respects I agree with you, but in this case I am sticking to my guns mainly because Liberty Ale has never tasted IPA-ish to me at all. Its hop profile is simply not pronounced enough for that designation to make sense to me. The differences between APA and IPA are pretty distinct, IMO. APA is usually an easier-drinking beer, with less astringency and bitterness than an IPA, and less alcohol.

                                  I freely admit I probably care more about categorization than many people do. It's in my nature, and is something of a curse at times.

                                  1. re: JessKidden

                                    Quote from JessKidden
                                    "I suppose part of my "rejection" of rigid beer style classification is that often (like in music and other fields) the most interesting beers are often ones that step outside the box and "violate" a rule or jump a boundary line"

                                    I was going to suggest Bear Republic's Hop Rod Rye, but I knew it didn't fit the guidelines.

                                    The styles have changed so much over the years that most people think the hops have to be extreme to be an IPA, not just more pronounced.

                                    For homebrewers Liberty is listed as a commercial example of the style
                                    From the BJCP site
                                    Commercial Examples:
                                    Stone IPA, Victory Hop Devil, Anderson Valley Hop Ottin', Anchor Liberty Ale, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, Three Floyds Alpha King, Harpoon IPA, Bell's Two-Hearted Ale, Avery IPA, Founder's Centennial IPA, Mendocino White Hawk Select IPA

                                    And Josh, I freely admit I'm less cocerned about categorization than most, and it is something of a curse at times. So I understand

                                    1. re: niquejim

                                      I'm more than happy to place Liberty on the border of IPA and APA; it's placement on the BJCP list is most likely a remnant of a bygone era. I remember many a 'discussion' among judges back about 15 or more years ago about why Liberty was an IPA when Sierra Nevada was an APA- it just seemed like a lot of hair splitting back then, and to me it still does. In the end it remains a quality beer.

                                      FWIW- we had Bob Brewer (Anchor rep extrodinaire) speak at our club a few times and he said that it was intended to be an IPA when it was brewed, and that they competed with it as an IPA at the GABF where it won Gold, so in his mind it was an IPA.

                                    2. re: JessKidden

                                      Internet sources quote Liberty Ale at 6% alc and 54 IBU. According to the "opinion" of the BJCP, their Beer Style Guide (2008), lists and an American IPA as having alc: 5.5 - 7 and and IBU: 40 - 70, whereas and American pale ale has alc: 4.5 - 6.2 IBU: 30 - 45 IBU, so Liberty would qualify more as an IPA. It appears to be generally referred to as an APA because that's what the Anchor Brewery wanted it referred to. Anchor does not publish the IBU, likely because it want to maintain it's marketing.

                                      1. re: xprmntl

                                        Of course, one must remember that as you correctly point out, the BJCP's definitions are merely opinions. They are not an authoritative last word on what a given beer style is or should be. The BJCP guidelines were put in place _only_ to serve as a common language for judging _amateur_ brewing competitions.
                                        The style guidelines are a relatively recent conceit and may be somewhat useful for those amateur competitions, but they have no relevance whatsoever in the real world.

                                        1. re: The Professor

                                          History is always about opinions based on factual data. "No relevance whatsoever in the real world?" I believe that's a bit silly to believe. The BJCP's guidelines are based on historical brewing and naming conventions and have input from beer historians (those who actually research such things). They are guidelines, for sure, and are subject to revision based on current trends as well as continual historical findings. If people aren't happy that guidelines are in place, so be it, but it doesn't mean that they have no relevance. And since the mid-80's the BJCP has been fairly universally recognized as body that certifies (most) professional judges (some are recognized authorities like Michael Jackson). These judges judge amateur competitions, like those held by the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) as well as professional competions like the Great American Beer Festival. For the time being, this is as professional as it gets...

                                          1. re: xprmntl

                                            Of course, by using the term "real world" I meant the world of commercial brewing. So, as I said, I have no problem with the BJCP's guidelines being used for their original stated and intended purpose: the judging of amateur beermaking competitions. I (and a growing number of other beer judges, beer afficianados, beer historians, and beer experts) maintain that what is "silly" is the idea of considering the amateur guidelines to be the _last word_ regarding any given style. The BJCP guidelines are hardly that and I believe that they were not ever intended to be that.

                                            1. re: The Professor

                                              I think the BJCP, when followed, has some good uses. I was judging a competition of professional brews, and one of the judges in our group dinged a Belgian dark strong for not being hoppy enough. Of course, hoppiness is nowhere in the guidelines for that style of beer, so she had to climb down on that one.

                                              1. re: Josh

                                                Glad it works for you (and others). As one with some background judging competition beers going back 20+ years I will reiterate that it may have _some_ value as long its use as it is kept to the arena for which it was originally intended.

                                                But really, the whole BJCP "style" list is lately starting to get a little bit ridiculous ...and a growing number of "good beer" folks do agree with me.
                                                Funnily enough, the list of 'guidelines' has evidently now been revised and expanded yet again ...perhaps because someone added a few hop cones to some existing 'styles' so it was deemed necessary to coin a handful of new 'styles'. LOL. It is becoming a bigger joke, really, with each passing year.

                                                Beer enthusiast/ writer/blogger/author Lew Bryson recently said (more briefly and eloquently than I am able) precisely what I've been harping on for more than 10 years (along with other 'good beer' lovers).
                                                Lew's suggestion to the brewing world is: "...Brew good beer. With style…not _by_ style".

                                                I say AMEN to that.

                                                1. re: The Professor

                                                  Some of these issues came about because of the origins of the Brewers Assn as the AHA. The guidelines were great education, and they are great as ways to measure how well someone can brew to stylistic criteria. But, as all have been saying, they create a regimentation in the minds of some.

                                                  I remember years ago when a brewery around here made a white beer. The brewer mentioned they had added, I think it was ginger, in addition to the usual stuff in witbier. A judge type questioned that, and the brewer, tongue in cheek, said they'd misplaced the style book when they designed the beer.

                                                  It's particularly amusing when someone views Belgian styles in such a regimented way, since the country tends a bit toward anarchy in its brewing philosophy.

                                                  1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                    Absolutely true. I have been a fan of Belgian beer for over 20 years, and despite all of my experience drinking it, I find that Belgian ales are virtually impossible to categorize beyond a few generalizations.

                                                    1. re: Tripeler

                                                      Agreed, some beers defy categorization. Where would you place houblon chouffe?

                                                      1. re: chuckl

                                                        I would call it a modern golden ale that has been influenced by U.S. microbrews because of the high hoppiness. Haven't had it in a while, though.

                                                        1. re: Tripeler

                                                          I'm not sure who did it first, but B United Importers was in there with an early "Belgian IPA", for lack of a better term, w/Chouffe IIRC. B United seems to encourage their brewers (even pairs of them sometimes) to produce interesting new products for Americans.

                                                          A while back on the Burgundian Babble Belt, a Belgian got quite incensed about this, saying these beers aren't "Belgian". Of course, all productive economic activities are influenced by many factors, some external, and this is no exception.

                                                          By his logic, IPA is not British.

                                2. My two favorite IPAs are Great Divide's Hercules and Titan. I'm also very fond of Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale and IPA; and of Dogfish Head's assorted IPAs. Their 90-Minute is probably the DFH brew I enjoy the most.

                                  Harpoon IPA tastes pretty good, but as far as I'm concerned, it's a pale ale.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Kenji

                                    Don't know if this distinction will interest you at all but Harpoon IPA is made in a less hop-forward, more English style of IPA (i.e. 42 IBU, 5.9% abv) and maybe that is why "as far as [you] are concerned it's a "pale ale".


                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                      I'm aware of that distinction. Most fans of Harpoon IPA I speak with tell me about the West Coast IPA/East Coast IPA distinction. Harpoon embodies the latter style, I'm told.

                                      I've actually had stints Down Under where breweries make "IPAs" with 4% ABV and *no* hop flavor! To my mind, these were misnamed milds. Others might suggest we must allow for the New Zealand IPA.

                                      1. re: Kenji

                                        I'll agree on it being an East Coast AIPA. I enjoy categorizing things but I know to some that it can become tiresome..


                                      2. re: Chinon00

                                        >Don't know if this distinction will interest you at all but Harpoon IPA is made in a less hop-forward, more English style of IPA

                                        Didn't used to be - at least back in '98 when I started drinking it. Used to very hop-forward.

                                        1. re: LStaff

                                          >Don't know if this distinction will interest you at all but Harpoon IPA is made in a less hop-forward, more English style of IPA <

                                          The English have seemingly forgotten what IPA is, or perhaps don't brew to strength due to the high taxation rate in the UK...I've yet to taste one from England that has anywhere near the hop level or strength that the traditional definition of the style would indicate. The best ones seem to be made in the US, The best one ever was made by a large brewing company and hasn't been available for at least 20 years.