As a beer drinker, this is the best time to live in the US. The United States is experiencing its golden age of craft beer brewing. There are an unbelievable number of brewers out there all over the country and their beers are permeating the masses. I cannot even drink anything from the likes of Coors, Miller, or Anheuser-Busch anymore. They cannot even compete. It’s like a little league team trying to take on a major league team. Craft brewers are just kicking their asses.
One of the most recent movements in craft beers has been the IPA, or India Pale Ale. These beers are distinct for their hops flavoring and bitterness. They have become my favorite style of beer, hands-down.
As such, here’s a list of my 5 favorite IPA’s. In no way is this list comprehensive being as some breweries have more than 5 IPA varieties… and as I haven’t tried nearly all of the IPA’s available out there. At some point it might change, but for now here it is.
#5 – Goose Island IPA – honestly I want this to be ranked higher as this is my standard beer at this moment. When I go to get a case of beer to keep in stock, this is it. And since Goose Island is a Chicago based brewery, but alas, it’s number 5. It is not too heavy with hops and the bitterness is not too bad making it a nice in-between for those starting to venture into the world of IPA.
#4 – New Belgium Citradelic – This is one of two IPA varieties from New Belgium on this list. Pale Ales, if not blended with malt (i.e. Goose’s Green Line Pale Ale) or another flavoring, will often have a citrus tone. It is one of my favorite features of pale ales and to why I’ve gravitated to them. With Citradelic, New Belgium (already one of the top craft breweries in the country) blended tangerine with the distinctive hops flavoring to make a truly beautifully flavored beer that is delightful to the palette.
#3 – Victory Brewery HopDevil – being from Philly prior to moving to Chicago, I have a fondness for Victory. And they never disappoint. All of their IPA’s are top notch, but this is their flagship IPA, and it is hoppy. At a 6.7% alcohol level, it packs a little extra punch in addition to the distinct flavoring.
#2 – Firestone Walker Double Jack – This is a man’s IPA. You have to like IPAs to even consider trying this. At over 9% alcohol, it packs a punch just on that alone. In category it is a Double Imperial India Pale Ale. Its flavors are strong and it is full of hoppy goodness. This is a beer I seldom allow myself to buy as a) it costs as much as a 12-pack of Goose Island IPA for only a 4-pack, and b) it is a high alcohol content, meaning I get lit a lot faster than I often prefer, particularly since I am more of a guy wanting the enjoyment of flavors than to get drunk.
#1 – New Belgium Rampant – This only recently took Double Jack from the top spot. Like Double Jack, this is also a man’s IPA. Rampant is an Imperial IPA and boasts an 8.7% alcohol content, so like above, it’s a treat. At least that’s how I have to treat it. Its hop flavors almost hint at a sweetness through the bitter overtone. (Sounds absolutely crazy to a non-beer drinker, but trust me, even as a novice beer connoisseur, I am learning to pick up on a lot of the great subtleties of beers.) It’s a delight to drink this one.
To put this list into perspective, of the IPA’s I’ve tried over the last year (as it’s only been about a year since I was turned onto them), I’ve only disliked one out of the two or three dozen I’ve tried. Until recently though, I never thought to start keeping track of them, much less rank them. Have some you think I should try? Send me the names and I will add them to the list! As I get more versed and experienced with them, I will expand this to a top 10 or 20 too.