August 2, 2012 marks the second annual International #IPADay in which beer lovers from around the planet unite to toast one of craft beer’s most iconic styles. The most entered beer style in many major craft beer competitions, the American India Pale Ale is a beer with a unique history that has evolved from a means of preservation during beers’ arduous travels to that of desire. Today many new hop varietals have been discovered and developed to provide a range of subtle to bold spicing notes.
With IPAs, harnessing the bold character of a heavy hop bill is an art and a science that is continually being understood as the modern palate continues to be redefined. Living in the Pacific Northwest, we are blessed with access to about 20-percent of the world’s hop supply, with varietals unlike any others grown abroad. Here’s a look at some wonderful IPAs from the West Coast available in bottles/cans that we think you’ll enjoy on this hoppy day.
10 Barrel Apocalypse IPA – From one of America’s best craft beer destinations, Bend, Oregon, comes a beer to toast at the end of the world…or sooner to ensure freshness of hops flavors. 10 Barrel Brewing has evolved and morphed into a force to be reckoned with in the Pacific Northwest. Beers of all genres make up the ever-growing portfolio but it is their affinity toward hop-forward offerings such as Apocalypse that speaks volumes. This NW American-style IPA is much different than the original beer of its namesake. With deep gold with orange hues and a fruity and citrus-pine character from the likes of Horizon, Centennial, Amarillo, Cascade. Clean, smooth and nearly sessionable at 6.5%, 65 IBU. Grab one if you can.
21st Amendment Brew Free or Die IPA – Hailing from San Francisco, CA, and with a craft beer canning operation in Minnesota, 21st Amendment Brewery makes all kinds of solid liquids, especially when it pertains to those who love bold hoppy pizzazz with a sturdy malt oomph. Brew Free or Die IPA is one of those 21st Century ales that elevates to the 7th level: 7% ABV with a beefy 70 IBU. Waves of big bitter and floral notes can be attributed to the multiple additions of high alpha hops.Bittered with Warrior, finished with Columbus and Cascade, then dry hopped with Amarillo, there is no mistaking that this beer is all about the hops, though the 2-Row and Munich malt body do bolster it in a relatively balanced manner.
Drake’s India Pale Ale – No slouch in the California Bay Area craft beer realm, Drake’s Brewingis a quickly rising powerhouse of consistently winning beers. Now with their barrel house in San Leandro in its second year, Drake’s is not only pumping out the expected craft beer varieties, but also some deeply nuanced barrel-aged and blended inventions. It’s no surprise that after many big time national awards, like a 2004 Great American Beer Fest (GABF) gold medal, the India Pale Ale remains their flagship brew. The most recent incarnation of this IPA is simply delicious, with German Magnum, Cascade, Falconer’s Flight, Chinook hops involved in the bittering and a healthy dry-hopping of the Falconer’s Flight blend and unmistakeable Chinooks. All this over a base of 2-Row, C-45, and Munich malt and the result is a luscious burst of gripping 7% ABV, 65 IBU goodness.
Stone IPA – We really do live in a world now (well, at least in the Pacific Northwest) where beers like Stone IPA are more and more becoming average beers. In 1997, at the point of this beer’s first release 6.9% ABV and 77 IBU of beautifully crafted gem was perhaps more of a slap in the face than any other IPA in the days of fizzy yellow beer . Stone Brewing of Escondido, CA is well known around the globe for their arrogant and unapologetic approach to brewing. Many of their brews including several anniversary releases are bastardized renditions of IPAs, often more like Double IPAs. Still, with today’s palate taken into consideration, Stone’s India Pale Ale here C’s the day with Columbus, Chinook, and Centennial blasts ravaging the tongue and nose.
Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA – From one of today’s most recognized craft breweries, Firestone Walker, is this double dry-hopped IPA that has become a West Coast standard by which many others within the style guidelines are often measured. A beauteous grapefruit and citrus aroma is achieved through multi-leveled hopping that involves 4-pounds per barrel mix of Warrior, Simcoe, Cascade, Centennial, Amarillo, and Chinook. Union Jack and its bigger and bolder brother Double Jack IIPA are glorious examples of the care and attention that the Paso Robles, CA brewery takes in each batch.
Hopworks IPA – This certified organic IPA is the flagship brew of Portland, OR’s popular and award winning Hopworks Urban Brewery. According to brewmaster Christian Ettinger, “Generous additions of Ahtanum, Centennial, and Cascade hops find their way into the kettle, hop-back and dry-hop. This judicious use of the “brewer’s spice” creates rich and resinous flavors of citrus fruit and pine. The finest organic Canadian pilsner malt and organic Munich and Caramel malts then bring balance to your new favorite beer.” A light bodied, highly drinkable Cascadian staple, HUB’s IPA weighs in at 6.6% ABV with 75 IBU. Check it out along with several other deliciously crafted offerings at the brewery’s 4th Annual BikeToBeerFest on August 11, 2012.
Gigantic IPA – Speaking of Hopworks, their former brewmaster Ben Love left to start his own brewpub with former Portland, OR Rock Bottom brewmaster Van Havig to start the brand new Gigantic Brewing. According to Havig, the brewhouse’s IPA will be the only year-round beer. This is good news for hop lovers, because it is a beautiful brew! A hazy copper golden ale with 7.4% ABV seems like a session brew considering the delicate balance of the thwarting hops (did we just say this?). Notes of tangarine with a subtle toasty malt backbone make this a top choice in a town and region boiling over with great IPA options. Look for it in 22-ounce bottles across the West Coast. If you happen to be by the pub anytime soon, seek out their Dynomite! Double IPA on tap. It’s a real winner!
BridgePort Hop Czar – What started out as a seasonal 22-ounce big beer release from the Portland, OR brewery that released their classic IPA nearly 20 years ago, BridgePort Brewing‘s Hop Czar is now a year-round staple, available by the six-pack. At 8% ABV and 85 IBU that teeters on being a true imperial IPA, the Czar features copious amounts of standard NW Nugget, Chinook, Cascade and Centennial Hops. Forget the Miller Brewing commercial about triple hop brewed, this bottle conditioned beer truly is, and with the signature English house yeast, the rich, round fruitiness of the spicing matches up wonderfully with the dry, crisp, biscuity underpinning.
Lagunitas IPA – Lagunitas Brewing Company of Petaluma, CA might call this beer “homicidally hoppy”, but true hop heads of today know better. This isn’t to say that at 6.2% ABV and whatever whatever IBU is anything to sneeze at, but let’s face it, in comparison to many of Lagunitas other lupulin lathered lovelies like Hop Stoopid or Waldo, this puppy is a walk in the park. It’s the approachability of Lagunitas IPA that is so deceptive, because the complex and unmistakeable flavors achieved from 43 different hops and 65 various malts through various methods is like the colonel’s secret hop recipe. Honestly this is a beer that got us into better beers and we hope you’ll take a moment to knock one back on this fine day.
Double Mountain IRA – Fresh off the bine is this India Red Ale (so technically not an IPA, but what are you gonna do about it? Cry? Start a complain thread on a beer reviewing site?) from Hood River’s finest, Double Mountain Brewery. Available year-round, IRA shines a rich ruby red hue on which a frothy white head rests invitingly. Sticky Simcoe and Brewers’ Gold hops are the stars of the show, married with DM’s unique house yeast which feast at Gambrinus Pilsner and Crystal malt bill. One of the breweries original sins, IRA withstands the test of time to help uphold the brewery’s well-deserved touted reputation. Thanks to a recent brewery expansion that includes a new bottling line, look for it to be making its way the West Coast to a place near you.
Knee Deep IPA – India Pale Ales are the kind of beers that are best enjoyed at their freshest. This means you are better off not to try cellaring or aging them. There are a few exceptions but for the most part, the quality and flavor, especially in those generously fresh hopped that are best suited with a freshie. A prime example of this is Knee Deep Brewing‘s IPA. Reigning out of Lincoln, CA near Sacramento. The reddish orange hued beer clocks in at 7.5% ABV, 75 IBU behind a variety of dank and potent hops such as Cascade, Columbus, Magnum, and Chinook which are propped up by an assortment of malts including 2-Row Pale, German Pilsner, Munich, Crystal 45, German Wheat, and Chocolate. The outcome is an intense pininess and lupulin gusto that is absolutely enjoyed at its young peak. Knee Deep is well recognized for their prowess in the hoppy brew community of Northern California, producing many even bolder brands than this, including their Hoptologist Double IPA and Simtra Triple IPA. Hop heads are greatly encouraged to pursue these treasures.
Russian River Blind Pig IPA – Anyone who even remotely enjoyed craft beer and hasn’t been living under a rock for the past eight years surely knows about the beers from Santa Rosa, CA’s Russian River Brewing. One of the most respected and highly regarded in America, Russian River’s portfolio of dynamic artisan brews run the gamut of deliciousness from their bug-innoculated wild ale blends to their unforgettable hopped up selections. Best known for a marvel of hops known as Pliny, Russian River’s more approachably dry IPA is Blind Pig. A mild 6.1% ABV showcases a world of pine and citrus flavor achieved through infusing hops in a variety of methods throughout the brewing process. And though the brewery divulges very little information about its process, it seems to be of consensus among those in the know that RR uses hop extracts in addition to hopback, dry hopping and other methods. Whatever it is, it is your duty to get yourself some and enjoy it!
Ninkasi Total Domination IPA – Since its commercial debut in 2006, Ninkasi‘s flagship brew has become a staple for Pacific Northwest hop heads. In fact, the Eugene, OR brewery is all about the hops with a number of buzz worthy hoppy goliaths in their ever-expanding resume. With a delectable underpinning of 2 Row Pale, Munich, and Carahell Malts, the star of this omnipresent IPA, Total Domination, resides in the big floral notes made possible through the interplay of copious amounts of floral Summit, Amarillo, and Crystal hops. The mildly nutty and sweet backing character from the brewery’s Fullers English yeast results in a winning tasting experience.
Hop Valley Alphadelic IPA – Purveyors of the deep, dank, and delicious are the brewers at Springfield, Oregon’s Hop Valley Brewing. Lead by founding brewer Trevor Howard who developed many hoppilicious heavensends during his tenure at Rogue’s Tracktown Brewpub in Eugene, Hop Valley provides a bright orange-copper hue in this hop lord once known at Alphaholic (the government made ’em change the name…go figure). 6.5% ABV, 95 IBU, the Hop Valley team loves to dose their brews with substantial quantities of quality hops. Alphadelic features Simcoe, Cascade, Cluster, and Palisade varietals over a spine of Munich and 2-Row malts. Seek it out in 22-ounce bottles and craft cans where grubbing Oregon brews are available.
Port Brewing Wipeout IPA – Perhaps the perfect IPA from the West Coast (and them some big words) is Port Brewing‘s Wipeout IPA from San Marcos, CA. Featuring some of the most popular high alpha hop varietals of today such as Amarillo, Centennial and Simcoe and makes use of Two Row, Wheat, Carapils and English Crystal malts for the underbelly. Pale in color yet bold in flavor with 7% ABV and nearly 80 IBU, the Wipeout is described as a San Diego Style IPA, which we guess makes that city one that relentlessly pursues hoppiness.
Fort George Vortex IPA – The story behind Vortex is an interesting one to say the least. Caught in a tornado in the Midwest while hauling their original brew system cross country from Virginia, a whirlwind of modern day history was added to the Astoria brewery’s rich past. Vortex is Fort George‘s best selling beer and is now available in their signature 16-ounce cans as well as on tap throughout the Northwest. The beer is what the brewery refers to as their “contribution to the IPA arms race.” With a hearty 7.7% ABV unfiltered, unpasteurized organic malt spine that makes way for Simcoe, Amarillo, and Centennial hops. Yep, those hops are quite popular with some of the region’s best brewers and it is obvious why. This beer is straight up delicious!
Oakshire Watershed IPA – A bold, balanced, and aromatic India Pale Ale that does justice to Oregon’s hop growing aptitude is Oakshire Brewing‘s Watershed IPA. Humbly making world class beers in their home of Eugene, OR, Oakshire’s year round India Pale is a crisp and dry Northwest kind of brew that pairs well with all kinds of foods such as Apple Tart, spicy Indian cuisine, and even creme brulee. For those who want a little more hop and malt push, check out their Perfect Storm Imperial IPA. Still, the Watershed has enough punch to get you to hoptopia with a 7.1% ABV and a kickin’ 71 IBU.
Ballast Point Sculpin Ale – All across American, hop heads are raving about Sculpin Ale from Ballast Point Brewing in San Diego, and with good reason. The bombastically hopped IPA won gold at the 2010 World Beer Cup in Chicago and remains on the top of the list for so many beer geeks. Available year round in 22-ounce bottles and on tap, Sculpin is named for a spike-finned fish that can poison its enemies. Fear not of being poisoned by the beer, but prepare for a sharp tongue lashing from this not-so-modestly hopped 7% ABV, 70 IBU (about the threshold for which the human palate can no longer determine more bitterness) beer which offers a variety of citrus and fruit flavors from the hops likened to lemon, peach, mango, and apricot.
Caldera IPA – Take yourself on an adventure and pack some cans of Oregon’s first canned craft beer, Caldera Brewing from Ashland. Caldera’s American-style India Pale Ale showcases plenty of body and a distinctly assertive hop profile from Simcoe, Centennial, and Amarillo, Caldera IPA uses premium 2-Row, Crystal, and Munich malts to fulcrum this 94 IBU snapper with 6.1% ABV. They also craft many other seasonal and one-off hoppy choices such as their Hopportunity Knocks IPA and their Hop Hash IPA, brewed with resinous chunks of solidified lupulin resin.
Laurelwood Workhorse IPA – Laurelwood Public House & Brewery‘s number one selling beer at all of their pubs is their Workhorse IPA, and if you’ve ever placed in upon your palate and down your gullet, you will know exactly why. In 2009 Workhorse beat out 63 other competitors nationwide in the National IPA Competition (NIPAC). Developed by brewmaster Chad Kennedy, now with Worthy Brewing in Bend, Oregon, Workhorse makes use of some of the world’s most sought after hop varietals such as Simcoe, Amarillo, Cascade, Columbus, and Nugget. According to the brewery, “The over-the-top aroma comes from a heavy handed dose of hops in the kettle, hop back and 2 separate dry-hop additions.” This beer is harder to find these days due to the availability of some of the aforementioned hops, but behold, Laurelwood’s current brewmaster Vasilios Gletsos continues to wow palates with several other tasty vittles such as the Gearhead IPA and others.
GoodLife Brewing Descender IPA– Right out the gates, GoodLife Brewing of Bend, OR has been crushing it when it comes to the hoppy brews. A prime example of this is their Descender IPA. Winning people’s choice at Eugene’s KLCC Fest in 2o12, Descender is staunch 7% ABV 70 IBU titan of a brew with NW Two Row, Bonlander Munich, Melanoidin, Crystal 60, Carafoam and seasoned with copious amounts of Centennial, Chinook, Cascade, Galaxy, and Warrior hops. Brewed with a process called “Hop Bursting,” a technique used to impart massive amounts of hop flavor and aroma by adding large amounts of hops at the end of the boil, resulting in a beer with a balance and quality that you will not forget!
Bison Organic IPA – Being a 100% certified organic brewery is not an easy task. Especially when you consider that most breweries who qualify for this certification do not use certified organic hops. One brewery, Bison Organic Brewing of Berkeley, CA is leading the way in organics and sustainable brewing, and has since being founded in 1989. Not an over-the-top wallop of crushing hop bitterness, Bison’s year round India Pale Ale offers approachability. They’ve tinkered with a number of single hop varietals over the years and have recently scored some certified organic Amarillo hops as a part of a four-hop blend. Here’s a video from Brewmaster Dan Del Grande regarding this delicious organic hoppy treat:
Green Flash West Coast IPA – Champion of the 2008 National IPA Challenge is the West Coast IPA from Green Flash Brewing in San Diego, CA. A truly pioneering American-style India Pale Ale, the WCIPA helped to push the boundaries of what the style can be with a “menagerie of hops” layered throughout the brewing process including Simcoe (to impart a unique fruitiness and grapefruit zest), Columbus (for strong hop pungency), Centennial (for pine and citrus notes), and Cascade (for floral aroma). As the brewery puts it, it is a “multi-dimensional hop experience.” And they ain’t lying. A hardy 7.3% ABV teetered with 95 IBU of hop complexity, this beer will almost make you forget about its price tag.
Alpine Duet – A true West Coast IPA, this sticky, resinous, piny, and citrusy brew from Alpine, CA marries two of the most popular hops in the modern world – Amarillo and Simcoe “in harmony.”Landing a perfect 100 score on Ratebeer and a not so shabby 96 on Beer Advocate (yeah, start your trolling, trolls), Duet is, like many of these beers, not for the faint of hop. 7% ABV and a billion IBU (okay, that’s a lie) make this a true hop head prize to be found. A clear yellowish color screams West Coast, baby, with hints of lemon peel, orange, and tropical fruits from these pungent and pleasant hops. Get some!
Bear Republic Racer 5 – Let us not forget one of the most enchanting and quaffable IPAs available on the West Coast. That would be Racer 5 IPA from Bear Republic Brewing in Healdsburg, CA. When contemplating the perfect IPA to grace our keggerator, thoughts of Bear Republic‘s Racer 5 IPA continue to come to mind. This American IPA is the quintessential ideal for balance and complexity when it comes to the style. It is a full bodied beer brewed American pale and Crystal malts, and heavily hopped with Chinook, Cascade, Columbus and Centennial giving it more than 75 IBUs. It’s hard to believe that Racer 5 weighs in at 7% ABV when considering its outstanding drinkability. The NorCal brewery makes a lineup of excellent beer available widely across the West Coast, so you shouldn’t have much difficulty in sourcing a taste for yourself. Hop heads, make sure to seek out the many other fabulous hopped up offerings from BR such as their Black Racer CDA, Apex IPA, Racer X Double IPA, and Cafe Racer XV – all of which are world class brews! Like the brewery says “There’s a trophy in every glass.”
Yeah, we know…we probably forgot to mention your favorite beer, or you feel like one of these beers isn’t worthy of the list. Well, feel free to leave a comment, or even start your own website and send us the link. Brewpublic’s mantra remains “Yeast, Malt, and the Pursuit of Hoppiness.” We love beer, nearly every kind. If you are hankering for a larger list of hoppy beers to try, check out our previous post 50 Must Try Hoppy Beers, where we only touch upon the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the awesome craft beer that is out there. Thanks for reading and supporting your local craftbrewery! Cheers!
Angelo grew up in Maine and is proud to call New England his original home. Cascadia is now his home. He fell in love with great beer in Oregon, Washington, and Northern California.
He has been a correspondent for the Portland Tribune's Guest on Tap column, LivePDX.com, and has been featured in publications such as Beer Northwest and PDX Magazine. Angelo also has a great interest in independent music, and has been a booker and organizer for shows around the Portland under the name Pop Tomorrow! Angelo garnered much knowledge regarding beer from his experiences homebrewing, working at Belmont Station, Pyramid Brewing, Upright Brewing, By the Bottle, Beer Revolution, Olde Depot Public House, Falling Sky Brewing, Cascade Brewing, and from many many knowledgeable, passionate, and loving people along the way. It is Angelo's mission to bring "infotainment" and "edumation" to the readers of this website. If you have any questions or comments, or would like to contribute, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org