The IPA is one of the most dominant craft beer styles, with hundreds to choose from in in the U.S. alone (Paste ranked the 247 best). The category offers a lot of flexibility and it’s not unusual for IPAs to feature characteristics of several different beer styles. While black and white IPAs are two common variations, they’re not the only options. In between those two disparate sub-styles is the red IPA, a hybrid of sorts that bridges the gap across styles.
Red IPAs balance the hop-forward flavors and aromas of traditional IPA with the caramel, malty body of an amber ale. It’s a solid compromise that lets beer drinkers temper the resinous kick of IPAs with notes of something a bit softer, smoother and even slightly sweet. Here are eight to look for on shelves around the country, both seasonally and year-round.
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Ninkasi Brewing Company
Oregon's Ninkasi brewery recently announced the return of its seasonal Believer double red ale. The rich-yet-drinkable 6.9% ABV beer is available through April 2017 in six packs, 22-ounce bottles and on draft. Believer uses Centennial and Summit hops along with four types of malt. Flavor notes include caramel, toffy, chocolate and roasted malt, all complemented by an earthy hoppiness. A portion of all sales from this beer will go to one of three national nonprofits.
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Milwaukee's Lakefront Brewing named this assertive beer after the city's fearless bike couriers, who weave in and out of traffic on fixed-gear cycles. The beer pours a crimson body and owes its hoppy bite to Cascade and Chinook varieties. It gets malty notes from 2-row pale and Belgian malts. The 6.8% ABV brew is available in bottles and on draft in Illinois and Wisconsin markets.
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Horizon Red IPA
Summit Brewing Company
This year-round red IPA out of St. Paul, Minnesota (5.8% ABV) is all about the balance of bitter and smooth. It's brewed with its namesake Horizon hops (a rare and lesser-used variety) as well as Mosaic hops, which give it notes of citrus and pine. It manages to stay heavy on malt flavors as well, despite measuring in at 66 IBUs.
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Pataskala Red X IPA
Stone Brewing Company
As expected, Stone's Red IPA trends a bit more toward an IPA than an amber ale. The 7.3% ABV Pataskala is brewed with the German-based Red X malt, typical of German red ales and Amber lagers. It's rare to use it in heavily-hopped beers, but heavily-hopped beers are where Stone excels. Pataskala is combines Mosaic, Amarillo and Cascade hops for an upfront taste of fruit and pines. It then gets another injection of late hop additions and dry hopping in the brew process. That's all balanced out by cereal and biscuit undertones. Stone will release the 2017 version in February and expects it to be available through May.
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Reviver Red IPA
Starr Hill Brewery
Down in rural Virginia is Starr Hill brewery. It's ruby-red Reviver Red IPA hits stores in February and runs through April, just in time for the Spring thaw. The 6.2% ABV seasonal debuted in 2015 and is made with a careful mix of American hops (Citra, Amarillo and Mosaic) and specialty malts. Like the best red IPAs, this beer blurs the lines between a traditional, citrusy IPA and an earthier and malty amber lager.
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Shipyard Brewing Company
Shipyard's Red IPA proves that straightforward doesn't mean boring, and that good beers don't always need clever names. Shipyard's East Coast heritage shows in the 5.9% ABV beer. This drinkable brew is not overly resinous or citrusy. Its use of Citra, Hallertau Blanc and Polaris hops create a medium hop profile that lines up nicely with its toasted malt flavors. The Red IPA is part of the brewery's late-winter lineup, with bottles and cans on shelves from January to March.
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Odell Brewing Company
Runoff Red hit stores again this January, though Colorado's snow melt is still a couple of months away. Odell's 6.5% ABV seasonal brew is a tasty hit, a marriage of dry hops propped up with some serious malt backbone. It's enough to be bright and refreshing on warmer spring days, but has enough depth to warm you up during the last cold nights of winter.
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21st Amendment Brewery
Don't worry: Toaster Pastry's name is not taken literally from the flavor of the beer. It's a tribute to 21st Amendment's brewery, which used to house a toaster pastry factory. The 7.6% ABV beer does have a few tricks up its sleeve though. Toaster Pastry is brewed with Biscuit, pale, and dark Crystal malts, which work together to bring hints of jam, crust and sugar to the taste and mouthfeel. It uses five different kinds of hops to get to a nice, bitter 74 IBUs that plays well with its malt structure.