247 of the Best American IPAs, Blind-Tasted and Ranked

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247 of the Best American IPAs, Blind-Tasted and Ranked

For our companion piece on the history, sub-styles and modern role of IPA in craft beer, check out the accompanying “Let’s Talk Beer Styles: IPA.” We also have a gallery of all 247 IPA photos and labels.

It’s funny to think that there was a moment, when we started collecting IPAs for this blind tasting, that I legitimately wondered if we would be able to surpass our previous high-water mark of 116.

That blind-tasting—the first in our whole blind-tasting/ranking series of beer styles that has continued on in monthly fashion ever since—was conducted in March and April of 2015. At the time, we were shocked when we were able to assemble 116, and so were our readers to some degree. The piece was a huge success—it’s since been viewed more than a million times, and we were proud to declare The Brew Kettle’s White Rajah as our favorite IPA. We were even more glad when it won a GABF medal only a few months later. Clearly, we were doing something right.

We knew, then, that whenever we finally re-did American IPA, that it would be another huge tasting. But at the same time, I had some doubts. Despite our huge PR list, which has grown immeasurably since the last time we tasted IPAs, how many breweries would choose to contribute their beers? How many that missed out on the top 50 last time would really want to send their beer in again? In the weeks leading up to the tasting, I buckled down, sending out what was likely hundreds of emails to breweries, requesting beer. I canvassed the primary beer subreddit over at r/beer, asking for suggestions of what we should seek out. Many of those beers are in this ranking.

Obviously, we needn’t have worried, as the final total for this tasting ended up at an astounding, bewildering, quite frankly overwhelming 247 entrants. For perspective, the Great American Beer Festival tasted 336 American IPA entrants this year, meaning that we did only 89 fewer than the largest beer festival in the country. Not bad for a tasting organized by one or two people, right?

In fact, in our own way, we’d like to think that the following tasting and ranking is actually far more useful to readers than the yearly results at GABF. Whereas a large-scale festival of that nature doesn’t reveal every beer that was entered, we will. And where GABF awards medals only to the top 3 beers, we’ve ranked the entire top 50. To even make that top 50, it means that beer was in the top 20 percent of entrants. Literally every ranked beer is among the elite. So let’s get to it.


A Note on Beer Acquisition

Like every other blind-tasting at Paste, we acquire these beers in a variety of ways. Most are sent in directly by the breweries when we send out a call for that style. Others we’re able to purchase directly because they’re available in Georgia, which is how we round out the tasting and add as many additional entrants as we can. A few of these IPAs, we were lucky enough to acquire from dedicated readers who sent them in. One beer redditor even joined us at the Paste office for a few days of blind tasting, thanks to the beers he had on hand to contribute. In short: We do our best. Yes, there are some big-name beers that are still missing, but I think you’ll agree that in the end we put together a pretty outrageous lineup.


A Note on Freshness

Because I know the comments will be absolutely swarming with concerns about IPA and freshness, let me explain our process here. The majority of these beers are sent in directly by the breweries, so in these cases we have no control over brewed-on dates. When beers arrive at the Paste office, I sort them and decide on daily tasting lineups. Every beer moving on from its initial round was then refrigerated until the day of the final tasting—I went out and bought a new office fridge specifically for this purpose. Additionally, the beers that arrive earlier get tasted earlier.

In the case of crowlers, as there were many beers submitted in crowler cans, I contacted any brewery whose crowler-based IPA was moving into the finals and gave them an opportunity to send in a fresh crowler in advance of the final. As this is obviously a style where freshness is paramount, I feel like we did the best we could, given the massive number of entries we were working with. I look forward to reading angry, freshness-related comments below from people who have never attempted to organize any kind of large-scale beer tasting.


Rules and Procedure

— We accepted almost all IPA variants, as long as they fell generally into “single IPA.” No session IPAs were allowed, nor were black IPAs, which already had their own blind tasting. The ABV limit was set at BELOW 8% ABV, meaning that 7.9% ABV IPAs were accepted, but 8% ABV IPAs were not. This is a difficult rule to make, as many straddle that limit, but it’s a limit that has to be set somewhere. Other than that, all kinds of IPA styles are represented: Belgian/brett IPAs, fruited IPAs, nitro IPAs, etc, etc.

— There was a limit of three entries per brewery, in an attempt to let IPA specialists enter multiple beers. The beers were separated into daily blind tastings that approximated a sample size of the entire field. Given that this was 247 beers, this meant MANY days of daily tasting.

— Tasters included professional beer writers, brewery owners, multiple professional brewmasters, beer reps and multiple BJCP-certified tasters. Awesome, style-appropriate glassware is from Spiegelau.

— Beers were judged completely blind by how enjoyable they were as individual experiences and given scores of 1-100, which were then averaged. Entries were judged by how much we enjoyed them for whatever reason, not by how well they fit any kind of preconceived style guidelines. As such, this is not a BJCP tasting, although we do have several BJCP tasters participating.


The Field: IPAs #’s 247-51

And oh my, what a field it truly was. Certain things become obvious, when you taste this many beers. Themes emerge; storylines are written in one’s head. And the theme of this huge tasting was emergence: The rise of titanic new IPA breweries that are largely younger and largely creating beers that boast massive flavors. As a result, many of them are among the highest-rated hoppy beers in the world right now.

This isn’t to say that we didn’t enjoy plenty of more subtle, classic IPAs, but there’s no denying those beers had a harder time breaking into the very top rung. Many beers that were contenders in the finals during the previous tasting of 116 can now instead by found in the 25 to 50 range. Some of the previous contenders didn’t make the top 50 at all. So many beers inspired comments like “I would happily drink this, but next to the top few it can’t stand up.”

And really, there’s absolutely zero shame in that. I wish that we could list the entire group in order, because finishing at #51 out of 247 is still something worth bragging about. But there does need to be a cut-off somewhere. To every brewery in The Field: We hope to try your beer again next year.

This huge list of beers is presented below in alphabetical order. As such, they’re not ranked. I repeat: These beers are not ranked.

Abita Brewing Co. Wrought Iron IPA
Adelbert’s Brewery Travelin’ Man Belgian IPA
Alaskan Brewing Co. Icy Bay IPA
Ale Asylum Bedlam Belgian IPA
Ale Asylum High Coup
Ale Syndicate Municipal IPA
Alesmith IPA
Asheville Brewing Co. Perfect Day
Avery Brewing Co. IPA
Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
Bear Republic Brewing Co. Hop Shovel
Bear Republic Brewing Co. Racer 5 IPA
Blue Point Brewing Co. Hoptical Illusion
Blue Point Brewing Co. Prop Stopper
Bootstrap Brewing Insane Rush IPA
Borderlands Brewing Co. Rebel Base Tan IPA
Breckenridge Brewery Breck IPA
Breckenridge Brewery Lucky U
Bridgeport Brewing Co. Stumptown Candy Peel IPA
Buoy Beer Co. IPA
Burlington Beer Co. Light in the Window
Burnt City Brewing Face Melter
Caldera Brewing Hopportunity Knocks
Caldera Brewing IPA
Calicraft Brewing Co. The City
Cherry Street Brewing Co-Op Mango East LA Highway
Christian Moerlein Blood Orange IPA
Christian Moerlein IPA
Clown Shoes Whammy Bar IPA
Conquest Brewing Co. Coffee IPA
Conquest Brewing Co. Sacred Heart IPA
Coronado Brewing Co. Islander IPA
Coronado Brewing Co. Stingray IPA
DC Brau Corruption IPA
Destihl Amra Mango IPA
Destihl Vertex IPA
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
Dogfish Head Flesh and Blood
Drake’s Brewing Co. IPA
DuClaw Brewing Co. Neon Gypsy
El Segundo Brewing Co. Mayberry IPA
Elysian Brewing Co. Avatar Jasmine IPA
Elysian Brewing Co. Immortal IPA
Eventide Brewing “The A” IPA
Evolution Craft Brewing Co. Lot #3
Evolution Craft Brewing Co. Pinehopple
Faction Brewing IPA
Fish Tale Hodgson’s Bitter End IPA
Fish Tale Organic IPA
Foothills Brewing Co. Jade IPA
Forbidden Root Jacob IPA
Fort Collins Brewery Far Away IPA
Fort George Brewery Vortex IPA
Founders Brewing Co. Azacca
Founders Brewing Co. Centennial IPA
4 Hands Brewing Co. Dakine Tropical IPA
Fremont Brewing Co. Interurban IPA
Frost Beer Works Junior IPA
Full Sail Classic IPA
Full Sail Hop Pursuit
Funky Buddha Brewery 3 Years & Brewing
Funky Buddha Brewery Hop Gun IPA
Gizmo Brew Works Earthquaker Oatmeal IPA
Gizmo Brew Works Hop Hydrant Red IPA
Gizmo Brew Works Palisade
Golden Road Brewing Point the Way IPA
GoodLife Brewing Co. Descender IPA
Good People Brewing Co. IPA
Goose Island Beer Co. IPA
Great Divide Brewing Co. Titan IPA
Great North Aleworks IPA
Great Raft Brewing At Arm’s Length IPL
Great Raft Oceans Between Us Brett IPA
Green Flash Brewing Co. Soul Style IPA
Green Flash Brewing Co. Tangerine Soul Style IPA
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery The Great Return IPA
Heavy Seas Beer Loose Cannon IPA
He’Brew Hop Manna IPA
Henniker Brewing Co. Hop Slinger IPA
Hermitage Brewing Hoptopia
Highland Brewing Co. IPA
Hops & Grain A Pale Mosaic
Hops & Grain Greenhouse IPA
Hopworks Urban Brewery Gear Up IPA
Hopworks Urban Brewery Pig War White IPA
Indeed Brewing Co. Let it Ride IPA
Independence Brewing Co. Liberty Lunch IPA
Independence Brewing Co. Stash IPA
Ipswich Ale Brewery Route 101 IPA
Karben4 Brewing Fantasy Factory
Lagunitas IPA
Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’
Lakefront Brewery IPA
Laurelwood Public House & Brewery Green Elephant
Laurelwood Public House & Brewery Workhorse IPA
Left Hand Extrovert IPA
Lift Bridge Brewing Co. Hop Dish IPA
Long Trail Brewing Co. Green Blaze IPA
Long Trail Brewing Co. Limbo IPA
Lord Hobo Brewing Boom Sauce
Lord Hobo Brewing Steal This Can
MadTree Brewing Psychopathy
Magic Hat Electric Peel IPA
Magic Hat H.I.P.A.
Manor Hill Brewing Hidden Hopyard Vol. 3
Manor Hill Brewing IPA
Maui Brewing Co. Big Swell IPA
Midnight Sun Brewing Co. Pleasure Town IPA
Midnight Sun Brewing Co. Sockeye Red IPA
Monday Night Brewing Eye Patch Ale
Moody Tongue Brewing Co. Sliced Nectarine IPA
Mother Road Brewing Co. Tower Station IPA
Night Shift Brewing Santilli
Ninkasi Brewing Co. Total Domination IPA
Odell Brewing Co. IPA
Ommegang Nirvana IPA
Orpheus Brewing The Rites
Oskar Blues IPA
Otter Creek Brewing Co. Backside Berner
Peak Organic Crush IPA
Peak Organic Evergreen IPA
pFriem Family Brewers IPA
Quest Brewing Co. Ellida IPA
RaR Brewing HYDE IPA
RaR Brewing Nanticoke Nectar IPA
Red Hare Brewing Gangway IPA
Red Hook IPA
Reuben’s Brews Crikey
Reuben’s Brews Summer IPA
Reuben’s Brews Triumvirate
Revolution Brewing Anti-Hero IPA
Rhinegeist Brewery Streaker
Rhinegeist Brewery Truth IPA
Rock Art Brewery The Humble Harvester
Rocket Republic Brewing Co. Mach 1 IPA
Rogue Ales Cold Brew IPA
Rogue Ales 6 Hop
Roughtail Brewing Co. IPA
Saint Archer Brewery IPA
Saint Arnold Brewing Co. Art Car IPA
Samuel Adams Nitro IPA
Samuel Adams Rebel IPA
Samuel Adams Rebel Grapefruit IPA
SanTan Hopshock
SanTan Brewing Co. Moon Juice
Schlafly Expo IPA
Schlafly Grapefruit IPA
Sebago Brewing Co. Frye’s Leap IPA
Second Self Beer Co. Citrus IPA
Second Self Beer Co. Red Hop Rye
Shiner Wicked Ram IPA
Short’s Brewing Co. Hopstache
Short’s Brewing Co. Huma-Lupa-Licious
Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA
Sixpoint Brewery Bengali
Ska Brewing Modus Hoperandi
Ska Brewing Modus Mandarina
Station 26 Brewing Co. Single Hop IPA
Stevens Point Beyond the Pale
Stevens Point Peach Mango IPA
Stevens Point Spruce Tip IPA
Stone Delicious IPA
Stone IPA
Summit Brewing Co. Horizon Red IPA
Summit Brewing Co. Saga IPA
Summit Brewing Co. True Brit
Sun King Brewing Co. Grapefruit Jungle
SweetWater Brewing Co. Goin’ Coastal
SweetWater Brewing Co. IPA
Tallgrass Brewing Co. Top Rope IPA
Telegraph Brewing Co. American IPA
Terrapin Beer Co. Hi-5 IPA
Terrapin Beer Co. Hopsecutioner
Third Street Brewhouse Hop Lift
Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. Citra Dog
Three Taverns Craft Brewery A Night in Brussels
Tin Roof Brewing Co. Juke Joint IPA
Tin Roof Brewing Co. Rusted Rye IPA
Track 7 Brewing Co. Panic IPA
Triptych Brewing Dad’s New Girlfriend – Amarillo
Troegs Independent Brewing Perpetual IPA
21st Amendment Brew Free! Or Die IPA
Two Roads Brewing Co. Honeyspot Road White IPA
Uinta Brewing Co. Hop Nosh IPA
Uinta Brewing Co. Hop Nosh Tangerine IPA
Upland Brewing Co. Dragonfly IPA
Urban Chestnut Bewing Co. Fantasyland
Victory Brewing Co. HopDevil
Victory Brewing Co. Vital IPA
WeldWerks Brewing Co. Steambarrel IPA
Wild Heaven Craft Beers Wise Blood IPA
Wiseacre Brewing Ananda IPA
Wormtown Brewery Ales for A.L.S.
Wrecking Bar Brewpub Hurricane Boomslang IPA
Yards Brewing Co. IPA
Yazoo Brewing Co. Hop Perfect IPA

Next: The ranked beers! IPA’s #50-26

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