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Good HOPPY Cheap Beer

Browsing the Best Cheap Beer thread (which was a great read), I was a little frustrated by how I just didn't like a lot of those beers, regardless of how dollar-efficient they are. "Good" is way too subjective.

Perhaps there should be a category of sticky "recession" threads for great buys on specific styles of beer.

In any case--I am a lover of hop-centric brews, and given that a) I am far from alone in that preference and b) hoppy beers tend to be pricier than their compadres, I was hoping to engage in a lively discussion on budget-friendly beers with an IPA ethos.

Let me begin by saying that I, too, miss SN Celebration Ale. I find that the Pale Ale does a pretty great job for the money. Any other suggestions for cost-efficient hop experiences?

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  1. The thing is, hops aren't cheap. Demand spiked a couple years ago just as supply shrunk, and to no surprise prices skyrocketed. But for just a bit more than the Sierra Nevada beers, which are quite good, Stone IPA, Bear Republic Racer 5, Lagunitas IPA, Green Flash West Coast IPA or Hop Head Red, and Ballast Point Big Eye are all pretty tasty. They all usually retail around 9 - 10 dollars for a six pack, at least in southern California. Wish I knew a good hoppy beer that cost less, but that's the best I can do.

    1 Reply
    1. re: juantanamera

      great list, I'll add Sierra Nevada Torpedo and Troegs Nugget Nectar. both are great, hoppy, and only $30-35 a case here in PA

    2. Without knowing where you are from, my best advice is to support your local micro brewer. I too am from PA. I can stop by a local brewer for a growler fill of a good IPA for $7-$10 or pick-up a case of something like Victory Hopdevil for around $30

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chefmonty

        Mmmm, Torpedo is really good.

        That said, I agree to go local if you can. Unfortunately, we can't get growlers here in GA.

        IIRC, Torpedo runs within a buck or so of Sweetwater IPA here. So, I'll get whatever the mood strikes me to.

        Dale's Pale Ale is in the same ballpark, price wise. Admittedly, some don't like the level of diacetyl (buttery flavor) in it.

      2. Southern Tier IPA is reasonable at $8 for 6. Availability is mainly NY/PA/OH I think.

        4 Replies
        1. re: maple99

          You can often find 60 Minute for around $8/sixer (if you want to call that cheap). And I can get Clipper City Loose Cannon, a fabulous IPA, for less than $8 here. But that goes back to the local thing. No idea how much it costs in other parts of the country. You might also look into Long Hammer which is a completely reasonable IPA.

          1. re: Insidious Rex

            Where do you get Loose Cannon that cheap? I pay $9 and feel lucky to get it for that price.

            1. re: JonParker

              Ive seen it at Total Wine & More in Virginia for $7.99 although I havent been there in a few months. Ive purchased it more recently at Ricks Gourmet nearby for maybe a dollar more. Its certainly a bargain at those prices.

            2. re: Insidious Rex

              I'm a hophead and I approve of Long Hammer- a Red Hook brew and usually under $14 for a 12-pack at the supermarket here in Maine. Harpoon IPA is also not bad for affordable hops; if you're in NH definitely look for Long Trail IPA: major hops and available in 1 12-pack at the grocery. Mmmm!

          2. I have been satisfied with Brooklyns' East India Pale Ale. Price is right, $7.99 here in NC. There are certainly better IPAs,I love Sweetwater, but none that cost as little and taste as good.

            1. I think Stone Pale/IPA and SNPA are probably 2 of the most economical hoppy beer choices around. Not necessarily my favorite beers but they are damned good and a solid choice for a daily beer.

              It probably doesn't help you much unless you live in San Diego, but for my money Alpine puts out the best hoppy beers and they're usually the cheapest for growler fills as well.

              1 Reply
              1. re: DougOLis

                Got a growler of Alpine Nelson IPA a few days ago and it may be my all time favorite IPA. Eleven dollars for a growler fill, not really cheap but well worth the money for that delicious brew.

              2. Right now I can buy Point Cascade Pale Ale for 4.99 a sixer. It's a little weak, but the hops are there, and for that price, i'll drink a lot of it.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Bobfrmia

                  Michelob Pale Ale has a nice price, too, and has a shot of hops in it.

                2. A few so-far-unmentioned: HopDevil, Troeg's HopBack, Smuttynose IPA, Haverhill Leatherlips, Dale's Pale Ale, Opa Opa IPA, New England Brewing Sea Hag, Trinity IPA, Harpoon IPA...

                  That list goes form excellent to meh in order.

                  1. An aggregate, for posterity and as a reference:

                    60 Minute IPA
                    Ballast Point Big Eye
                    Bear Repulbic Racer 5
                    Brooklyn East India Pale Ale
                    Clipper City Loose Cannon
                    Dale's Pale Ale
                    Green Flash West Coast IPA
                    Harpoon IPA
                    Haverhill Leatherlips
                    Hop Head Red
                    Lagunitas IPA
                    Long Hammer
                    Michelob Pale Ale
                    New England Brewing Sea Hag
                    Opa Opa IPA
                    Point Cascade Pale Ale
                    Sierra Nevada Torpedo
                    Smuttynose IPA
                    Southern Tier IPA
                    Stone IPA
                    Sweetwater IPA
                    Trinity IPA
                    Troegs Nugget Nectar
                    Victory Hopdevel

                    Many of these I have tried and loved. Some of them (Smuttynose, 60 minute, Brooklyn) I've enjoyed on the East Coast, and have trouble finding here in LA. On the other hand, there are many excellent beers here that I never saw in Massachusetts (Lagunitas).

                    Thanks for the responses.

                    1. I am partial to Dale's Pale Ale.

                      1. For flavor and price I think Sierra Nevada Torpedo can't be beat. The downside is that the retailers that I frequent have trouble keeping it in stock.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: JonParker

                          Agreed, Torpedo is an outstanding bargain. The problem is, it came & went in my neck of the woods. Since it's a year-round brew, I was looking forward to regular access to it.

                          1. re: Kenji

                            Torpedo has sold very quickly in my area; the wholesaler is often o/s. I expect that's the case in your area, too, and that it will become regularly available as the supply and demand get into sync.

                            1. re: Jim Dorsch

                              Ya know, I kinda LIKE the fact that Torpedo has sold so well in so many areas that it's out of stock. Let's face it- there's a LOT of craft beers that sit around retailers or distributors too long (in the latter case, when a retailer says "Oh, we just got that in yesterday" doesn't mean that the distributor hasn't been sitting on a pallet of the stuff for a year).

                              Now, most of the beers I buy are date coded these days so I only buy fresh (and pass on the undated beers), but even a date code doesn't help matters if a beer is such a slow mover that a retailer or distributor drops a brand because it was a dog.

                              I find that, more and more, the beers I buy regularly in quantity are either seasonals or the fast movers- beers that "sell out" often enough that there's a steady fresh stream from brewery > distributor > retailer >my beer fridge.

                        2. The Oskar Blues Gordon also fits the bill, I prefer it over the Dale's

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: BaltoPhilFood

                            In my neck of the woods, that's an $11 four-pack. Not exactly cheap.

                          2. There's a story about one of the fathers of craft brewing from the northwest (can't think of his name) who carried a small vial of hop oil with him. When he couldn't get something with hops in it, he'd add a drop of hop oil to it. Problem solved.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: chimay5

                              Bert Grant. But of course, it's not the same as a beer actually made with plenty of hops!

                                1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                  Yes, it was Bert Grant. Grant gave some of his hop oil to Michael Jackson, who, he joked, would pour the oil into his morning coffee!

                                  1. re: Kenji

                                    I don't know if it was the first, but Grant's India Pale Ale is the first craft brewery IPA I recall. Of course, Anchor Liberty Ale was, if not an IPA, certainly closely related, and it predated Grant's.

                                    1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                      Yeah, it's pretty well established I think that Grant's India Pale Ale was the first of the craft era- around 1986-7 if the listing of the Brewers Digest Annuals are to be believed (and they aren't particularly accurate as far as things like labels available go).

                                      Of course, Falstaff was still brewing Ballantine India Pale Ale, in Ft. Wayne, IN at that time- tho' it was well into it's long slide down in quality.

                                      As for Liberty Ale, here's what Maytag said in an interview with Lew Bryson back in 2000:

                                      MA: Was Liberty Ale ever meant to be an India Pale Ale, or did it just come out in that direction?

                                      FM: You know, I didn’t have that in mind. I did have in mind that there would be other ales right away. Because we were so small and didn’t have grand ambitions of size, I thought it would be smart to make an ale that was quite extreme in its character right from the beginning. I was at a tasting last night, and I said that [Liberty Ale] is a product that time has caught up with. Today it doesn’t seem all that weird. It’s still pretty hoppy, but there are a bunch of other ales that are that hoppy and that malty and that bitter. But believe me, it wasn’t the case 25 years ago. We purposely made it quite extreme, but I did not think of an India Pale Ale when I made it. That certainly would be a pretty close description in terms of hoppiness and all malt. I can’t recall when they started brewing with sugar in England, I think it was 1848. Prior to that, it would have been all malt.


                                      1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                        I would say that Anchor Liberty is an IPA - though of course, compared to many of today's craft-brewed IPAs, it is on the modest side.

                                        Grant's IPA had a mere 4% ABV or so, but a robust 55 IBUs.

                                        The later versions of Grant's vigorously hopped Imperial Stout were also on the low side in terms of ABV (6%) - though I know from early reviews by Jackson and Papazian that it started out much stronger. The IS is the Grant's brew that I miss the most, though I also loved the dark winter ale that they released starting in the late 90s.

                                        1. re: Kenji

                                          I suppose one factor to consider is that Grant, tho' a "craft brewing pioneer", came out of the "macro" side of the industry and was also influenced by the UK beer scene, so he probably inherited his view of what was a high abv from those sources.

                                2. i am a fan of the smuttynose IPA, which is easily found at most bodegas in the nyc area, and is usually one of the cheapest. also affordable and easy to come by are lagunitas IPA, DFH 60min, and SN torpedo. i also try to do the growler thing as often as i can to snatch up a $10 fill deal of a double IPA (avery maharajah and captain lawrence IIPA are among my faves)!

                                  1. Ithaca Beer Company's Cascazilla. But again, probably won't be able to find that outside of NY/PA.