Founded in 2011 by craft beer enthusiasts Ashley Rouston and Ryan Ross, IPA day is a celebration of India Pale Ale, the bitter, hoppy, high-alcohol beer that enjoys countless followers in today’s craft beer culture. IPA Day is celebrated at bars, breweries, and beer retailers throughout the world. Though it is not officially acknowledged, it is the once and current king of craft brews.
We ask nine illustrious beer scribes to choose their ten favorite IPAS and explain why others are shadowed in comparison.
That’s not the end of this article. Below, we will present some useful notes from our judges. Go on and try some of them yourself!
10. Lagunitas IPA
“We like the upfront toasty nuttiness of the malt with a different complex West Coast blend of spicy, bitter hops.” – Daniel Bradford and Adam Harold
9. Sierra Nevada Celebration
“In my opinion, most fresh-hopped beers are rather grassy, a note that I don’t find desirable in a beer. However, Sierra Nevada knocks it out of the park with their Winter seasonal Celebration — no grass here, just fresh American hops.” – Pat Fahey, Master Cicerone, Exam Manager of Cicerone Certification Program
8. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA
“When I have a craving for hops this IPA calls my name. With the use of a special hop filter, Sierra has found a way to capture all the hop has to offer. This beer has that almost over the top hop assault that we NEED, not want… pine cone, cedar, and citrus blend together with a malty goodness that leaves my hophead inner child happy!” – Sean Paxton, Homebrew Chef
7. Alpine Beer Company Duet
“While this beer is hard to find, the harmony of Simcoe and Amarillo hops makes me seek this IPA out. The unique hop properties of these two hop varieties create a symphony of flavors; mango, orange, melon, grapefruit, pine, grass all playing at the same volume. This beer is a treat that I honor with each sip.” – Sean Paxton, Homebrew Chef
6. Bear Republic Racer 5
“As if channeling Northern California’s most famous crop, Racer 5 is the classic “dank” IPA — as sticky and herbal as the finest sativa.” – Jeff Alworth, Beervana Blog and The Beer Bible
5. Surly Furious
“Hops are full of citrus and pineapple with a great malt backbone that makes this IPA a little sweeter than average. A great beer in a can.” – Dave Jensen, Beer47
4. Bell’s Beer Two Hearted Ale
“A classic, and for good reason. Exclusively hopped with Centennial, Two Hearted shows off the best qualities of that varietal, with classic American notes of pine and grapefruit, followed by orange and chamomile.” – Pat Fahey, Master Cicerone, Exam Manager of Cicerone Certification Program
3. Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA
“It’s hard not to love this beer. Its perfectly balanced grapefruit bitterness and biscuit backbone make this easy to drink and deeply complex. Multiple gold medals at the Great American Beer Fest proves that this beer is one of, if not the best there is.” – Derek Buono, publisher of Beer Magazine
2. Ballast Point Sculpin
“It’s an ugly fish, but a delicious beer. Many breweries’ reputations have been made with a killer IPA and Sculpin is just that. An aromatic assault of mango, citrus, and stone fruit can make you drool immediately. After just one sip you’ll become a hophead as this beer delivers a fruit stand of flavors.” – Derek Buono, Beer Magazine
1. Russian River Blind Pig
From the judges: “Anyone opening a brewery should strive to make a beer half as good as Blind Pig. It’s crisp, bitter, aromatic, not too sweet, and just super delicious. My desert island beer for sure.” – Dan Becker, The Full Pint
“If this is on draft in your local bar, don’t waste another second, order it! This perfectly malty IPA is sure not to disappoint.” – Greg Avola, Untappd