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IPA lover needs new beer

What beer should an IPA lover try if he wants to try something new ? Moretti's LaRossa is one I like when I try something different.....

Separately, is there an IPA style where the aftertaste is sharply bitter, or is it a poorly made beer? I much prefer the rounded, sweeter aftertaste of Bell's Two Hearted, for example.

I'm not as well versed on lingo as many here, so apologies if I'm not being as descriptive as you'd like.....

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  1. You might consider exploring some European beer styles, including bitters, milds and IPAs from England which tend to be more balanced and not as hop-forward as American IPAs, although you're already familiar with the excellent Bell's Two Hearted. You can also explore beers from Germany and Belgium, which introduce different flavors altogether. Check out beeradvocate.com for more details on the world's beers.

    1. Sierra Nevada, according to my resident maven.

      60 Replies
      1. re: mcf

        Sierra Nevada can do no wrong. Much better than most of the rest of the flood of micro products on the shelves these days.

        1. re: The Professor

          Hm, not sure I agree with that. I think a lot of their beer is kind of boring.

          1. re: Josh

            Bigfoot, Celebration, Pale Ale (touchstone for the style) Torpedo, their wet hopped beers, etc are "boring"?

            1. re: Chinon00

              I find them to be, yeah. All of those styles you listed are done better by other breweries, IMO.

              I don't think SN beers are bad by any means, but almost any style they make I'd rather have made by a different brewery. For example, based on your list above, I'd rather have: AleSmith's Old Numbskull, AleSmith's Yule Smith, Marin's Mt. Tam, Russian River's Pliny the Elder, and Ballast Point's Schooner.

              Granted, these aren't necessarily the most widely available alternatives. For a mass-market brewery SN does a good job. But I only ever order their beer when there's no other choice available.

              1. re: Josh

                I feel the same way, but didn't bother saying so.

                1. re: Josh

                  "I find them to be, yeah. All of those styles you listed are done better by other breweries, IMO."

                  But does the fact that a beer is being "done better" by other breweries mean that it's "boring"? American Barleywine as a style seems to me to be inherently un-boring. I think it's the age and ubiquity of the SN brand that projects this image.

                  1. re: Josh

                    Does any one brewery do a better job at all those styles

                      1. re: Josh

                        Does RR have a nationally available APA or Barleywine?

                        1. re: Chinon00

                          No, but that wasn't my point.

                          My comment was in response to: "Much better than most of the rest of the flood of micro products on the shelves these days."

                          I don't see it that way, at all. SNPA was an important and influential beer no question, but I don't agree that their beers are better than most of the craft brewed stuff that's on shelves (though obviously there may be regional differences).

                          I'm not saying I dislike any of their beers, either. Summerfest, for example, is a pretty nice lager. I also used to really enjoy their American wheat beer, which I haven't seen in a really long time.

                      2. re: niquejim

                        In the midwest at least I'd have to say Three Floyds.

                        1. re: TombstoneShadow

                          Most of the Midwest doesn't get 3 Floyds.
                          If you can, do.
                          I would look for Big Sky IPA. Great beer at a great price point.

                          1. re: Bobfrmia

                            yeah, that sucks... we were spoiled in Chicago... got all their 1st releases. Dreadnaught on tap, what ambrosia that stuff is. I think we even had Behemoth on tap at the Map Room for a brief time, best barleywine out there IMO.

                      3. re: Josh

                        Sierra Nevada is your beer of last resort, eh?

                        1. re: Kenji

                          I'm surprised this is controversial.

                          Most beer bars I go to have many beers more interesting than SN's lineup. Typically if I am ordering SN that's because the rest of the handles are macro taps.

                          Their porter is good, but is it better than Fuller's London Porter? Better than Stone Smoked Porter? Better than Anchor Porter?

                          1. re: Josh

                            Yes, I'd say the Sierra Nevada Porter more than holds its own against Fuller's and Anchor's examples of the style.

                            I like Stone's smoked porter, but it represents an unusual porter substyle; it's a bit silly to pit the SN brew against it.

                            1. re: Kenji

                              Not sure what makes the Stone one unusual. The word "smoked" in the name refers to a minuscule amount of peat-smoked malt in the grain bill. It's not like Alaska's smoked porter, which actually tastes smoked. Stone's Smoked Porter tastes like a pretty standard porter.

                              And while SN's porter holds its own against other examples there's nothing especially notable about it. Which was kind of my point - The Professor was holding SN up as some kind of paragon of craft brewing which IMO is a serious stretch.

                              1. re: Josh

                                It's all good...opinions will vary.
                                But I really do hold Sierra, Anchor, and Sam Adams in very high regard because of the high quality and consistency of their products...not to mention that they seem to understand the lost art of 'balance'...something lacking in so manyf beers these days.

                                1. re: The Professor

                                  I agree that Sierra and Anchor deserve kudos for quality control and consistency. Now that I'm living in SF I'm very pleased that my neighborhood beer bar has the Anchor Zymaster series in heavy rotation, which at present is a really tasty take on an English mild. Now there's a style I'd love to see more breweries making.

                                  Sam Adams, though, not sure I agree. Boston Lager is good, but their seasonal releases, like the Lemon Pledge-flavored Summer Ale, are nasty.

                                  1. re: Josh

                                    Overall, I am not a fan of sam adams. However, I see that their Noble Pils is now available. It's worth a try if it's as good as last year.

                            2. re: Josh

                              Just to be clear, you've had Bigfoot, Torpedo, and their wet hopped beers before and recently?

                              1. re: Chinon00

                                Yeah describing Sierra Nevada beers as generally boring is a bit of a stretch. Ive even heard some newbie beer snobs (NOT Josh) trash them in the same way I hear them trash Sam Adams as uninteresting near-macro "swill" simply because they are so ubiquitous and large in comparison to other craft breweries. Thats of course patently ridiculous. You dont judge a beer by how easy it is to obtain or how big the brewery is. And anyway I think SN has some one offs that should definitely at least peak interests (Hoptimum and Life & Limb come to mind) right along there with the fashionable beer names we like to drop so much. And Josh that list, as you noted, was a list of excellent but almost impossible beers to get (unless you are fortunate enough to call San Diego home. Is Pliny an easy find in southern Cal?) which makes it largely irrelevant when you are discounting Sierra Nevada's beers for being not as interesting as these super amazing elite choices. If you live in Miami I guess you can say LeBron James is the only good reason to buy a ticket to a basketball game but he doesnt play in my city so I rarely get to see him but John Wall is a pretty talented point guard who plays just a few miles from me so Ill pay for that ticket a lot more often. Doesnt make him a chump just because hes easy to find (sorry for the sports analogy foodies!!).

                                That being said, I too generally dont get Sierra Nevada regular line up beer on tap very often when Im out although not necessarily because I find them boring but because Ive had them so much (is that the same thing?).

                                1. re: Chinon00

                                  Yep. We have Torpedo in the fridge about 20 feet from where I'm sitting as I type this.

                                  1. re: Josh

                                    Assuming you're at home, you keep beer in your frig that you think is "boring"? Lemme guess, it's for your guests?

                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                      No, I was at work. It's one of the beers the fridges are stocked with.

                                      1. re: Josh

                                        And you've consumed one during the past 2 months?

                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                          I've probably had two or three in the past couple of months, yeah. Not sure I get what you're driving at?

                                          1. re: Josh

                                            I was asking just to ensure that you've had it recently and could therefore judge it fairly. Hey, if you think it's boring so be it.

                          2. re: Chinon00

                            SN's porter is also at the top of its class. I don't know if there's a better commercially available example of the style out there. Mercury's Ipswich Porter, maybe.

                            1. re: Chinon00

                              SN beers are boring because its not new, bbl aged, sour, weird ingredients, experimental, over the top in flavor, or inconsistent quality? That seems to be what beer geeks prefer these days - I personally don't get it. Personally I find their depth, qualtiy control, and consistency far from boring. Some people think big flavor is the ultimate indicator of quality, thankfully there are still some brewers who have more depth.

                              1. re: LStaff

                                Josh I generally agree with you but Sierra is also making some small batch stuff that is very interesting. This wasn't a boring night.

                                 
                                1. re: MVNYC

                                  I like SN's beer. I'm always up for trying their seasonals and their one-offs. Even in the face of all sorts of exotic smaller brewery brews when I go to craft beer bars, I don't hesitate so see what SN is up to. It's a great brewery. And they are widely distributed. HOWEVER, as a response to the OP who is an IPA lover looking for something new, I disagree with SN as a recommendation, along with the old-man-on- the-front porch missive that they are "..much better than most of the rest of the flood of micro products on the shelves these days." This sounds like Sierra Nevada is the 'end of the line. Look no further'. Not boring beers, but a boring suggestion.

                                  Not sure of the distribution of these, but...

                                  Hair of the Dog's Blue Dot is a fantastic IPA with a flowery, piney nose, hoppy front end taste, but clean on the back. It's really hard to believe how they've done such a great job of coaxing the bitterness out of the back end. Not necessarily round and sweet, but not palate burning in any way. Great beer. From Portland, seen it in Seattle. Not sure how much further they go.

                                  Can't overlook both the Dogfish Head 60 and 90 Minute IPAs, which are also great, not so bitter on the backend, IPA's. They are both a lot sweeter than their western IPA brethren. And they don't taste so pronounced of Cascade hops like many of the western IPAs do. They should be available all over.

                                  As mentioned below, Houblon Chouffe is an interesting "Belgian Triple IPA". Little bit of Belgian triple funkiness and some hoppy piney-grapefruitness. It's a schizophrenic beverage for sure, but maintains a pretty sophisticated balance. It's definitely on the sweeter side.

                                  Simcoe hops. I'm not sure which beers on the market use this variety, but they are a very interesting cultivated type that have all the bold characteristics of other types of hops without too much bitterness. I love Weyerbacher's Double Simcoe IPA, which is a DIPA and a bit high gravity, but interesting and bold without being too bitter and not being something from Delaware. Awesome beer.

                                  Black IPAs. I haven't had too many of these and don't have specific recs, but they are an interesting sub-category to explore. Seem to be a little nuttier or coffee-like, but still have some hoppy pine and grapefruitiness.

                                  1. re: MVNYC

                                    I know that SN makes some interesting small-batch and collaboration stuff. I'm not really trying to disrespect their history. It just bugs me to see them held up as some kind of paragon of craft brewing when so much of their output is pretty pedestrian.

                                    1. re: Josh

                                      I suppose I agree with you, their main offerings are not usually among the best in category. They are simply well made beers but if I go to a beer bar or beer store I will most likely pick up something else.

                                      I was just pointing out that they do make smaller batches that cater to the more hardcore beer enthusiasts. and some of these beers are very good.

                                      1. re: MVNYC

                                        Yeah, I agree with you there. I'd like to see more of that kind of stuff from them. And even among their standard releases I will often pick up Summerfest, which I think is a really well-made lager.

                                        1. re: MVNYC

                                          "I suppose I agree with you, their main offerings are not usually among the best in category."

                                          But how many breweries have several beers that are "among the best in their category"?

                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                            Off the top of my head Russian River, AleSmith, Port Brewing, Captain Lawrence.

                                            1. re: MVNYC

                                              Forgot about Port. Not sure if you saw, but Jeff Bagby is starting his own thing.

                                              1. re: MVNYC

                                                Besides the fact that its highly subjective my point is though that the vast majority of breweries can't make that claim. Having multiple beers that are among the best in their style is an extremely high standard and shouldn't disqualify any a brewery.

                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                  At the risk of flogging a dead horse, I don't believe anyone is denigrating the beers SN produces. At one time they were a leading innovator. It seems to me that's how most industries work - yesterday's leading innovator becomes today's staid traditionalist.

                                                  I would recommend any of Samuel Smith's beers in a heartbeat. They are still great beers.

                                                  But for me, if someone's asking about what to try when seeking something new I'll probably always take that pretty literally and try to think of people who are today's innovators.

                                                  Random left-field observation: not only has SN been attempting to do some different stuff recently, but so has Widmer. Today at Toronado I had a glass of a hibiscus gose (!) that was surprisingly delicious. I was fairly shocked to see this kind of beer coming from Widmer. I've seen some other unusual offerings from them lately, too, like IPAs made with Nelson hops.

                                                  1. re: Josh

                                                    The OP brought up Moretti La Rosa as something "different" they like. Therefore "innovative" beer isn't a prerequisite.

                                                    1. re: Josh

                                                      Hibiscus Gose! wow...That sounds _really_ interesting. I'm generally not a fan of herbed or fruited beers and the like, but I do love hibiscus...I drink hibiscus tea from China quite frequently.
                                                      Sounds to me like it's presence in Gose could be something really tasty.

                                                      1. re: Josh

                                                        Check out brrrrrrrbon if you get a chance.

                                                        1. re: chuckl

                                                          Bottle or draft? Haven't seen it around.

                                                      2. re: Chinon00

                                                        I clearly stated that I thought Sierra Nevada was a good brewery and was responding to Josh's boring comment. I am not sure what your issue with that is.

                                            2. re: LStaff

                                              I agree. A large segment of the craft beer industry these days seems to be more focused on gimmickry than anything else... and not very skillfully, either..
                                              To me, _that's_ boring.
                                              Different strokes, I guess. LOL

                                              1. re: The Professor

                                                It's ridiculous to assert that I must prefer "gimmickry" if I don't find myself excited by yet another middle-of-the-road pale ale.

                                              2. re: LStaff

                                                I was stuck at a sports bar tonight for a work function where the best beers on offer were SNPA and Torpedo. In a word: boring. I don't disagree that their beers are well-made, but they are certainly not up to the standard of what smaller, younger breweries are doing - at least not when it comes to their larger production mass-market beers.

                                                1. re: Josh

                                                  Ummmm...just to be clear... I wasn't directing it at you Josh.
                                                  And although it means nothing, it's safe to say that it is likely that I've tried hundreds more beers.
                                                  I'm just expressing an opinion (that a lot of beer lovers also share). It's fine if you disagree.

                                                  I just personally think that the craft industry (which I have loved and supported from day one) has lost it's way with it's gimmicky approach to things. I like an "in your face" beer as much as the next guy...and I appreciate that such brews are much easier to crank out than the rather more well balanced output of companies like Sierra, Boston Brewing, etc.

                                                  But really---It's only beer, man. :-) Consumers are already getting more hip to the hype and smoke and mirrors (and inflated prices) that have become so prevalent in the beer world.
                                                  In the end, the best answer is simple...Drink what you like, ignore the rest.
                                                  It's really not a bIg deal. (it's only beer).

                                                    1. re: The Professor

                                                      I don't know anybody who loves beer who feels as jaded about the current craft beer movement that would simply throw in the towel and recommend Sierra Nevada as if the rest of the industry doesn't get it because they have become "too gimmicky". If you have tried hundreds of beers as you boast, surely you can take as much time to ply through your memories to recommend some, as you took time to wax poetic on your pet theory about the decline of western beer civilization.

                                                      1. re: Silverjay

                                                        LOL! Wax poetic...I love it.
                                                        Decline? We're hardly in the midst of a decline...good god... if anything, the opposite is true. I just honestly think that in the glut of products out there calling themselves IPA, Sierra and Anchor happen to do it better than _most_ of the smaller brewers out there. There are a few exceptions...I just don't give a free pass to the smaller, younger breweries because contrary to industry hype, 'smaller' doesn't guarantee 'better'.

                                                        Since you correctly called me out on not offering a recommendation (too busy 'waxing', I guess. LOL), I will cheerfully offer that Stone's assorted takes on IPA are certainly worthy (even if I'm not a huge fan of the rest of their other output).

                                                        1. re: The Professor

                                                          Yes! I too enjoy Stone's beers. Glad you brought them up.

                                                          1. re: The Professor

                                                            I would say Stone's IPAs are the types the original poster is looking to avoid as they generally have a very bitter aftertaste without the malt finish

                                                            1. re: MVNYC

                                                              Arrogant Bastard, while not an IPA, is hoppy and aggressive without being too bitter.

                                                              1. re: MVNYC

                                                                You're probably right...that seems to be the norm in IPAs of the "American" type (we Americans are well known for over-doing and 'supersizing" everything. LOL). I like a profoundly bitter character in IPA (even the IPA I was drinking 45+ years ago clocked in at 75 or more IBUs), but it _is_ nice to have a good malt backbone to balance things.

                                                                Perhaps the OP should be looking at some of the current IPAs from the UK, as they are not nearly as aggressive as Americans tend to make them. The original IPAs of the 19th century were aged for 5 or 6 months since the voyage to India could take that long (and evidently, those original IPAs were no stronger than the standard ales of the day); nowadays of course, the fashion is to drink IPAs rather young while the hop flavors and bitterness are much more aggressive.
                                                                Some of the modern, more subdued British IPAs might be more to the OP's liking.

                                                              2. re: The Professor

                                                                Ahhh, now here's something we can definitely agree on. IPA is a style I will rarely order from an unknown craft brewery because too often they're not made well. I think IPA is a very difficult style to make well because getting that malt/hop balance right when pushing the hoppier end of the flavor profile requires a lot of finesse.

                                                                1. re: Josh

                                                                  Very true, especially since the current fashion is to package IPAs to be consumed in a comparatively 'young' state, rather than maturing them first as was usually done in the past.

                                                                  There _are_ a few decent IPAs out there. The better ones manage to achieve plenty of hop flavor, intense bitterness, and good aroma without the unpleasantly grassy and harsh notes that too many modern IPAs seem to exhibit.

                                                                  The style has, after all, taken off like a rocket in recent years so there's bound to be a bunch of mediocre ones popping up. . Funny though, how IPA has become such 'standard" beer now; back when it was my favorite beer during my college years 43 years ago, I spent a lot of time trying to explain to my friends what it was. ( '"Yes, it's supposed to taste like that") LOL. If I brought sixpack to a party, at least I knew most of the bottles would practically wind up being a private stash.
                                                                  Everyone else was afraid of the stuff. ;-)

                                                                  1. re: The Professor

                                                                    Yes, sometime in the recent past everyone stopped disliking hops and they now seek them out.

                                                          2. re: LStaff

                                                            Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere and Northern Hemishpere are good beers. The Estate Ale they make is quite good.

                                                            The new sour beer Brux is also quite good. Sierra Nevada has the most impressive yeast management team in the US.

                                                            I think people are going for sour beers these days because IPA and hop bombs have been saturating the market.

                                                  1. You're in the Midwest correct? Just about every beer brewed by Great Lakes (Cleveland) I find to be generous and full bodied. Burning River Pale Ale would be up your alley. For something different from your neck of the woods I'd suggest "Maltida" by Goose Island, a brett fermented Belgian style pale ale. Very interesting beer.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                                      I'll second this. Great Lakes is a good brewery. They have a real precision of flavor that I like (sorry that was the best description I could come up with this late at night). Most of their beers are quite good. Their Ella Fitzgerald porter is definitely one of my favorite examples of the style.

                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                        "Their Ella Fitzgerald porter..." ROFL

                                                        The actual name is "Edmund Fitzgerald", the name of a ship that sunk years ago.

                                                        1. re: Tripeler

                                                          Ehh, I've been awake for a long time now. It's a good porter either way.

                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                            I'm curious: would the Ella Fitzgerald Porter end up breaking the glasses it was served in?

                                                    2. There are IPA lovers on both sides of the isle - some like a balanced finish and some really get into the abrasive/dry finish.

                                                      If you like Two Hearted, you should also like Bear Republic Racer 5. Sierra Nevada Torpedo is also well balanced.

                                                      1. Have you tried much from Lagunitas? They are big on hops, but the beers always seem to have some finesse that give you that pleasant bitterness rather than harsh.
                                                        I can't really think of one of their beers that I haven't enjoyed, but the pale ale and IPA are solid. The Hop Stupid is fun to try and I also like the Belgian IPA Little Sumpin' Wild.

                                                        I will throw out a local favorite too--Lakefront IPA. We tend to overlook it and then every time we have it we think how it is really good.

                                                        You could also try out some black IPAs. I like the way the roasted flavor balances the hops...

                                                        17 Replies
                                                        1. re: bte576

                                                          Lagunitas has a nice (hard to find) seasonal, I think called Daytime, a fractional IPA at less than 5% abv.

                                                          1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                            I would think this would be too dry/bitter considering the OP's preferences. I love it though.

                                                            1. re: LStaff

                                                              You are correct about that. I didn't heed OP's preferences.

                                                              1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                                Thanks for the ideas!

                                                                (I am in the Twin Cities area....far east :), as in WI)

                                                                1. re: DaKing

                                                                  I didn't bother mentioning it by name before being it's only in Wisconsin...but if you haven't tried Blacktop (Black IPA) from New Glarus yet, you should check out if you can find it.

                                                                  1. re: DaKing

                                                                    Not sure of their exact distribution footprint but you might enjoy Furious from Surly Brewing (in Brooklyn Center, MN) or their Bitter Brewer which is an English Bitter.

                                                                    Masala Mama from Town Hall in Minneapolis is also an excellent IPA.

                                                              2. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                                Jim--I have never seen Daytime in our market, but will keep my eye out. Thanks for the tip. I have been going for the New Belgium Shift this summer for something lighter bodied, but still with some hops...

                                                                1. re: bte576

                                                                  Daytime was in very short supply around here (in the east) due to the disconnect while Lagunitas gets their new brewhouse up to speed. I hope they will be in a position to make lots of Brown Shugga this winter!

                                                                  1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                                    I spoke to soon...I stopped at the store last night and they did have Daytime.

                                                                    I bought some and look forward to trying it over the weekend.

                                                                    Looking forward to Brown Shugga too, although we did enjoy that Lagunitas Sucks replacement last winter.

                                                                    1. re: bte576

                                                                      Good for you! I've also see Sumpin Wild in 22oz around here lately.

                                                                      1. re: bte576

                                                                        +1 for Brown Shugga, it is quite delicious. But be careful because the alcohol is quite high, over 9% as I recall.

                                                                        1. re: Tripeler

                                                                          Brown Shugga is far and away my favorite of Lagunutas' brews.

                                                                      2. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                                        Seems to be pretty easily available in the metro boston area. I have seen multiple cases at second and even third tier beer stores .

                                                                  2. re: bte576

                                                                    Hop Stoopid is an awesome IPA... and for the money one of the best values out there... It's shown up favorably in so many of my blind tastings it's a benchmark.

                                                                    1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                                                      That is one of my favorite beers. I just bought a 22 oz. bottle for $4.00...great bargain considering similar quality beers are routinely priced at north of $5.00.

                                                                      1. re: jpc8015

                                                                        Yes! I've found it even in the $3's in some shops... absurd considering the quality.

                                                                        1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                                                          Lagunitas is my go to brewery for oustanding budget drinking. Their Cappuccino Stout is world class and the Maximus IPA is a new favorite.