It’s no secret that IPAs are bitter, but did you know that biology says we dislike bitter flavors because it helps us avoid consuming poisons, which often taste bitter? So if you’ve got a friend or two who just can’t get into the IPA game, you can’t blame them—it’s just science!
But not every IPA has the same flavor profile. We spoke to brewers, bloggers and beer lovers that swear there are some truly excellent IPAs out there for the hesitant.
With National IPA Day (August 6th) upon us, here are several great IPAs that may just make believers out of the hater crowd.
Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye
Community Coordinator at Aeronaut Brewing Company in Somerville, MA, Liz Pratt recommends a Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA. (Writer’s note: Why isn’t it just called Ruthless RyePA?) It’s described as fruity, citrusy, dry, peppery and herbal with a great balance between the contrasting and complex character of its malt and hops.
Firestone Double Jack
Beachwood BBQ & Brewery’s owner, Gabe Gordon goes for a Double Jack from Firestone Walker, Brewing Co. as it tends to be maltier. Firestone refers to it as “dangerously drinkable” with “undertones of stone fruits, and as having “a sturdy pale and crystal malt backbone to bring balance.”
Anchorage Galaxy White
Tanner Agar, CEO of Brüd Food, recommends Anchorage Brewing Company’s Galaxy White IPA, a fruit beer. One reviewer on Beer Advocate concurs, adding that there is “a pungent spiciness that sets it apart from most IPAs”, and overall it’s a “different IPA experience.”
Gigantic Pipe Wrench
Jenna Forstrom, Founder of BiteSizeBrews.com, and co-founder of HopHands.com, believes the piney taste of a Gin IPA such as Gigantic Brewing Company’s Pipe Wrench won’t just make gin-lovers IPA believers. One Beer Advocate reviewer notes its “great balance of hops and malts,” while another commends its “nice mix of piney and citrus hop flavors up front with an emphasis on tangerine, clean toasted malt undertone, followed by an earthy spicy finish.”
G2B brewery and restaurant head brewer Andrew Christenbury recommends G2B Citra IPA as an “easy-to-drink” alternative. He created G2B’s signature IPA using only Citra hops, giving the beer an approachable and sessionable citrus flavor which is perfect for those who are thrown off by the typical bitterness found in most mainstream IPAs.
Independence Hoppy Diver Session IPA
“I think that most people who don’t like IPAs really don’t like the assertive bitterness that is imparted by bittering hops (added in the boil),” says Amy Cartwright, co-founder and President of Austin’s Independence Brewing Co. “Some IPAs like our Hoppy Diver Session IPA focus on accentuating the fruitier flavors that hops can impart.”
Sam Adams Rebel Rider
Samuel Adams brewer Jennifer Glanville offers up their Rebel Rider for its ”bold yet mellow hop character of a West Coast-style IPA complemented by the golden crispness and lighter body of a session beer.”
21st Amendment Down to Earth
21st Amendment Brewery co-founder Shaun O’Sullivan says their new Down to Earth IPA is “very accessible” due to its “balanced bitterness supported by a light malt sweetness” and dry finish. “The added benefit is that it has less than half the alcohol of most IPAs but all the flavor; so it’s great for both the hop head fan and those that are reluctant to dive into the IPA pond.”
Dogfish Head India Brown Ale, Deschutes Chainbreaker, Lost Coast Sharkinator
For people who like wheat beers, March Schultz, certified cicerone and beermonger for Slater’s 50/50 (a burger concept restaurant based on SoCal), recommends a white IPA like Deschutes Chainbreaker or Lost Coast Sharkinator, as the wheat content makes them “light, crisp and refreshing” while “the hops enhance the citrus qualities.” For those who prefer stouts, porters and maltier brews, he suggests Dogfish Head India Brown Ale. “The solid malt backbone balances the hops so the taste is not overpowering. The hops temper the sweetness from the malt, ultimately making it more sessionable.”
Bell’s Hopslam, Stone Japanese Green Tea
Cooper’s Craft & Kitchen owners Thomas O’Byrne and David Clarke are big on Bell’s Brewery Inc.’s Hopslam IPA. “It’s brewed with hops that provide more of a floral flavor, making it much less bitter and much more of a gateway IPA into the style. And it’s actually quite strong at 10 percent alcohol.” Kimmie David, the head server over at Cooper’s, says the Japanese Green Tea’s green tea infusion took her mind off of any hoppy bitterness.
Conquests’ Sacred Heart
Blogger Nick McCormac, whose blog Drink.Blog.Repeat covers “Everything SC beer” recommends Sacred Heart IPA from Conquest Brewing Co. He notes that the East Coast-style IPA has “tropical notes of pineapple”, “juicy hop flavors” and an “approachability that even a new craft beer drinker can enjoy.”