When it’s time to grab a drink, what’s your preference? If you’re a fan of craft beer, you might be familiar with IPAs (India Pale Ale). IPAs are a great drink of choice for anyone who is a fan of hop-forward beer with a bitter kick. Each has its own individual notes and unique flavor profile, but West Coast and New England IPAs are a great place to start. West Coast IPAs are characterized by their strong hop flavor and aromas of citrus, pine, and resin. New England IPAs offer a more hazy appearance and a softer, smoother mouthfeel, with tropical fruit and juicy flavors. The best IPAs should deliver in flavor while still being a balanced drink.
The craft beer industry is alive and well, long recovered and in rebound from the pandemic slump when taprooms and breweries were forced to close. Data from the Brewer’s Association shows that overall U.S. beer volume sales were up one percent in 2021, while craft brewer volume sales grew eight percent. Retail sales of craft beer now account for just under 27 percent of the $100 billion U.S. beer market, the rest belonging to on-site sales.
Drinking beer (to a certain extent) could even be beneficial to your health! A new study conducted by the Italian Ministry of University and Research found that hops, which give many varieties of beer their bitter flavor, are also capable of preventing harmful proteins from clumping together in the brain. Researchers examined four common varieties of hops using a similar method brewers use to create beer. During their experiments, they discovered that the extracts had antioxidant properties and were able to block amyloid beta proteins from clumping around nerve cells.
If you’re already a fan of IPAs, or if you’re just looking to try something new, this list is a great starting point. StudyFinds has compiled a list of some of the top recommendations for the best IPAs across 10 expert sites. Already have a favorite drink of your own? Let us know which one in the comments below!
The List: Best IPAs, According to Experts
1. Ballast Point Brewing Company Sculpin
This beer became an instant hit ever since it was debuted at a local watering hole by three home-brewers. Ballast Point has since stuck to its practice of making well-balanced drinks, even when other West Coast breweries have been making bitter-focused beers. According to Hop Culture, “With hops that added a ton of bright tropical fruit and aromas of pine and orange, ‘the brightness of Sculpin matched the sun in San Diego.’”
Sculpin is named after a spiny, unattractive fish that yields delicious flavor. This beer is much the same, with a bitter hop punch in tandem with refreshing tropical, fruity notes. “Sculpin IPA has proven so popular that Ballast Point now offers variations with grapefruit, habanero and coffee,“ writes GAYOT.
Delish writes: “Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA uses hops at five separate stages during the brewing process. ‘This IPA has great apricot and citrus flavors, refreshing taste, and is an all round great summer beverage,’ said Andrew Court, executive chef at The InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile.”
2. Alpine Beer Co. Nelson IPA
Alpine Beer Co.’s Nelson IPA is a very classic hoppy IPA. It is named after Nelson Sauvin, a hop varietal from New Zealand. It pours bright orange with a thick white foam, and stands at 7 percent ABV. “It has a slight natural haziness and drinks light and bright with tropical notes,” says Delish.
The pine and fruity hop notes of the beer are balanced by the smoothness of European rye malts and the aroma of orange peel and citrus. “Super refreshing on a hot summer day,” adds Chron.
3. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
With its zesty fizz and delicious citrus flavor, this beer has been a staple in the Mid-Western brew scene since the ’90s. It is 7 percent ABV and brewed with 100 percent Centennial hops. Bison Brew explains “Pouring a hazy golden orange, this beer is bitter, piney, citrusy, and floral.”
The crystal malt flavor helps balance the strong citrus buzz, and makes this beer suitable to be paired with any dish or to accompany any occasion. “It has a delicious citrus flavor—almost like you expressed orange zest into the bottle,” says Sporked.
According to Delish, “It has 160 five-star reviews for it’s ‘full flavor and nice hop balance.’ Plus the brewery says it’s ‘well suited for Hemingway-esque trips to the Upper Peninsula.’”
4. Pliny the Elder
This double IPA is often hard to find, and is named after the ancient Roman naturalist “Pliny the Elder,” who first studied the hop plant. Men’s Journal reports “if you can get your hands on the Elder, a world of well-balanced malt, hop, and citrus is sure to be a mouth-watering experience you won’t soon forget.”
Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa, California keeps supply tight to ensure that all beers out on the market are fresh. This IPA is piney, bitter, and resinous but still smooth. “The beauty of Pliny the Elder lies in how balanced and drinkable it is,” explains Cool Material.
GAYOT tells the tale: “This cloudy, copper-hued, well-balanced beer is crafted with Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ and Simcoe hops and has an enticing aroma, reminiscent of a pine forest. Pliny the Elder succumbed in heroic fashion while rescuing friends during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D.; you can now drink like a hero with Russian River’s iconic IPA.”
5. Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing
Total Wine & More mentions “Juicy hops and silky malt meet in this fruit forward IPA with modest bitterness and a smooth finish.” This IPA is unfiltered and unprocessed and goes straight from the tanks into the cans. The beer dry-hopped with Citra, Comet, Simcoe, El Dorado, and Mosaic hops.
Hazy Little Thing is a staple that you might have seen at most grocery or liquor stores, and is a solid pick for those looking for a well-balanced IPA that still packs a punch. This edition is Sierra Nevada Brewery’s most popular seller. “It is served straight from the tank without much filtration to give its silky texture and flavorful fruity notes,” adds Homebrew Academy.
“‘It is a great IPA with lots of flavor. [It’s] consistent, not too bitter, not too juicy, just right.’ Some may call it the goldilocks of IPAs,” mentions Delish.
You might also be interested in:
- Hop Culture
- Bison Brew
- Men’s Journal
- Cool Material
- Total Wine & More
- Homebrew Academy
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.