by Nathan Hak Beer Sommelier at Beerwulf
Top 10 IPAsWell actually 11 IPAs...
Enjoying something of a renaissance, IPA is the beer style of the moment. It is in fact over 200 years old but at one point it was so out of fashion it almost disappeared entirely. Today however, it is more popular than ever, and it seems like it’s here to stay.
But what are the best IPA beers? I'll give you some tips on how discover India Pale Ales. Below are 11 of the top IPAs, because putting together a list of the top 10 is near impossible. Of course, it is possible. but there are so many beautiful IPAs to choose from. Every day there are fantastic new versions, either in new ranges, seasonally produced or even brewed as a one-off. With the unbridled growth of India Pale Ales, ever increasing numbers of different IPA types are appearing, it makes it very hard to narrow it down.
The IPA landscape is constantly changing...
On the Untappd beer rating site you can now choose from 17 different IPA sub-styles! This is not a problem of course, because that just means there is a lot more to discover. But a top 10? I can give you tips to discover this delicious hoppy beer style but ultimately, I'll let you decide for yourself!
So without further ado, here are my insider tips for the best 11 IPAs! Here we go!
1. Anchor Liberty Ale
IPA was originally an English beer style, but most of today's IPAs are an American interpretation of it: American IPA. Anchor Liberty Ale is considered to be the first of its kind, the trailblazer of IPA. It has been brewed since 1975 using only their signature Cascade hops. This powerful hop variety provides the characteristic citrus flavour.
In 1975 this strong hoppy style was in fact very revolutionary. Today, we see it as a common IPA (or American Pale Ale) with an excellent balance between sweet and bitter, a beautiful interaction of malt, hops and yeast. A must for every IPA fan!
2. Wild Beer Nebula
Their characteristic misty appearance, soft mouthfeel and fruity character is rounded off with a mildly bitter finish. This is achieved by combining a huge amount of dry-hop (a technique that allows a maximum amount of fruity hop aromas to enter the beer) with a fruity yeast that doesn't sink to the bottom. Small particles of hop attach themselves to the "mist" in the beer - consisting of floating yeast cells and proteins from the malt- and voilà: a beer disguised as fruit juice.
Wild Beer Nebula is a good example of this. Super fruity and with only 5% alcohol it is very pleasant to drink.
3. Brussels Beer Project Delta IPA
Belgium, beer land of traditions. The Brussels Beer Project is a brewer who respects these long-standing Belgian beer traditions but likes to push the boundaries of brewing with experimental flare.
Delta IPA is their first beer and the rising star of the brewer’s assortment. According to co-founder Sébastien, the hero of the Brussels Beer Project, The Delta IPA is where their adventure with beer began. An experimental beer by Belgian standards, especially back in 2013, the year of which the beer came out. Delta IPA is fermented with saison yeast, a type of yeast with deep roots in the Belgian beer tradition. The result is a refreshing India Pale Ale, with tropical aromas and a relatively mild-bitter, but a rather dry finish.
4. Stone Brewing IPA
The Californian Stone Brewing is known for its sumptuous use of hops. Stone IPA is the flagship beer of the brewery. It is a standard West Coast IPA, a type of IPA recognisable by its orange colour, clear appearance and an almost aggressive use of hops.
A fruity, hop-resin beer, in which sweet malt (the malty backbone) should provide balance to the powerful, long and clean-bitter aftertaste. This punchy Stone IPA is a far cry from anything "standard".
5. Het Uiltje Dr. Raptor
Dutch brewery Het Uiltje are the uncrowned kings of hops. Robbert Uyleman and his team know how to handle the hop, as evidenced by the many prizes they have won. They are renowned for their hop-forward beers, namely the insanely hopped, Dr. Raptor.
This is an Imperial IPA or Double IPA, the superlative of the India Pale Ale. That means a lot of hops, leading to an exuberant beer. The distinctive hop aromas of citrus, tropical fruit and malty tones are not to be missed. The firm body and alcohol content provide a counterbalance to the impressive hop yield.
Samuel Smith's India Ale
Often American styles IPA’s are criticized for the heaviness of the hops. This can mask the other flavours and make it too bitter. Samuel Smith's India Ale is different. It is characterised by full bodied flavour, excellent balance of sweet malt tones and bitterness from the hops. An Ale with notes of honey, biscuit and marmalade.
You may not immediately recognise this as an IPA, especially if you are used to American IPAs. But this is a classic British India Pale Ale, the IPA it all started with.
7. La Cristal IPA du Mont Blanc
IPA can take many forms, as evidence in this French style, brewed in the Alps at the foot of Mont Blanc. The very soft glacier water and the relatively long lagering time (resting time after fermentation) at very cold temperatures, creates a crystal-clear IPA with a soft character, in which the hop still plays the leading role.
At 4.7%, La Cristal IPA du Mont Blanc can be considered a session IPA and is therefore very refreshing. The lager technique makes this a hybrid style: fermented with top fermenting yeast, but lagered like a bottom fermented beer.
8. vandeStreek Playground Non Alcoholic IPA
We cannot ignore the current growth in no and low alcohol beers. The brothers van de Streek from Utrecht have brewed a very successful IPA with less than 0.5% alcohol: vandeStreek Playground Non Alcoholic IPA.
A fruity IPA with a sweet touch that offers counterbalance to the whack-load of hops and matching bitter taste. Having said that, it’s not very sweet and malty by the way, which can sometimes be the case with alcohol-free beer. The taste of an India Pale Ale, but without alcohol!
9. Troubadour Magma
This is a Triple-IPA, but not the superlative of a double-IPA, this is a hybrid of an IPA and Belgian triple. The warm copper colours and light foam of the Troubadour Magma are brewedin Belgium, of course. Packed with American hops the end results is an orangey beer with a tropical-fruity nose.
The Belgian yeast provides the necessary fruitiness with the body and experience of a tripel. A Belgian tripel-IPA combo!
10. Fourpure Juicebox/Deucebox
An IPA brewed with fruit, guess what, that's a Fruit India Pale Ale.
Juicebox by Fourpure is a good example. The orange pops out, which goes well with resinous hops. Deucebox from Fourpure is the same deal, with one small difference: it has double the amount of malt, double amount of hops and yes, double amount of oranges. That’s Double Fruit Double India Pale Ale!
10. Gulpener Spicy Roger
We will conclude with a Spicy IPA, a collab between Gulpener (from the most southern tip of the Netherlands) and ‘t Uiltje (the hopmasters from number 5 in this list).
It’s an 8% double IPA and a quite adventurous one at that. Tingly hoppy and fruity with a bitter-hot finish. It is brewed with red peppers but relax! It’s tasty and spicy but won’t blow your socks off. It’s surprisingly drinkable!
The MOST delicious IPA?
We live in a beautiful time, with endless fantastic IPAs in their many manifestations. The most delicious? That is, and remains highly personal. High scores on rating sites like Untappd stand for something of course. Medals won in the most important beer competitions and certifications are not to be sniffed at. But taste, discover and judge for yourself and don't forget to enjoy all those delicious punchy, hop-packed gulps.