With the explosion of the craft brewing scene, creative beer producers and adventurous connoisseurs alike have found their darling in the IPA, a style that dates back to the days of the British Empire and that had fallen out of favor but has recently enjoyed a renaissance.
Nowadays, a plethora of variations come under the broad IPA umbrella, from West Coast and New England to Belgian and English styles. And to help you find the most outstanding examples, here’s our guide to the best IPA beers to give you somewhere to start drinking.
The Best IPA Beer Brands
1. King Sue (Toppling Goliath Brewing Company, USA)
The Toppling Goliath Brewing Company is an outfit that knows a thing or two about making beer – as is evidenced by the fact that their Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout is currently firmly ensconced in the #1 spot on BeerAdvocate’s list of the top 250 beers in the world.
Their King Sue New England IPA is not a bad drop, either. It’s double-hopped with the ever-popular citra variety of hops, which is backed by a supporting cast of fruity flavors including grapefruit, orange and pineapple. A top beer from a top brewery.
2. Grimbergen Belgian Pale Ale (Grimbergen, Belgium)
Grimbergen makes a range of solid Belgian-style beers, including a blonde, a double-ambré and a blanche. However, this IPA – or “Belgian Pale Ale” as they call it – is a delicious treat to look out for.
It is amber in color and the taste hits you with a wave of hops, citrus, honey and floral notes. It’s a fresh, crisp beer that doesn’t overpower you with excessive amounts of hoppy bitterness, making this a beer you can enjoy several bottles of one after the other.
3. Lagunitas IPA (Lagunitas Brewing Company, USA)
The Lagunitas IPA is one of the beers leading the way with the heavily hopped American IPA style, and unlike many of the more genuinely craft beers, this one is easy to find, making a good option to fall back on when you can’t find anything more specialist.
It has a deep yellow color that’s approaching orange and produces a long-lasting off-white head. The nose is full of citrus aromas and hops along with more than a whiff of malt, and in the mouth, it’s nothing less than a hops explosion.
This might put some people off – but if that’s the kind of taste you crave, this is a beer you’ll appreciate.
4. Houblon Chouffe (Brasserie d’Achouffe, Belgium)
The Houblon Chouffe ranks #3 on BeerAdvocate’s list of Belgian-style IPAs – and is the highest-ranking beer there that’s actually from Belgium (#1 and #2 are both from the US – we also cover both of those here).
Houblon is French for hops, and this beer blends three varieties to create a delicious combination of fruitiness and hoppy bitterness that IPA devotees adore. And if you enjoy this, make sure you also try the Chouffe Blonde from the same brewery.
5. Kasteel Hoppy (Van Honsebrouck Brewery, Belgium)
Belgium’s Van Honsebrouck Brewery is probably best known for its Kasteel range of beers, an outstanding line that includes an exceptional donker and a delicious tripel.
The Kasteel Hoppy is a less common beer from the same brewery, but for anyone who enjoys beers with predominant hops, it’s one that merits checking out.
Some might claim this is technically a “pale ale” rather than a true IPA, although this is just a question of semantics, and the label you decide to give it won’t detract from how much you enjoy the drink in the bottle!
6. Heady Topper (The Alchemist, USA)
Heady Topper is the highest-ranking IPA of any style on BeerAdvocate’s list of the top 250 user-reviewed beers, and with so much stiff competition, you can expect something quite special.
More specifically, it’s an American double IPA, and it’s an outstanding example of what this style can and should be. It is packed with huge amounts of American hops, but the flavor is rich, complex and satisfying rather than overwhelming.
For the full experience, the brewer recommends drinking this beer straight from the can so that none of the flavor is lost into the atmosphere and everything is directed straight onto your tastebuds.
7. Focal Banger (The Alchemist, USA)
Another world-class beer from The Alchemist, this time a New England-style IPA that combines classic North American citra and mosaic hops with traditional British malts that shine through to give the beer an extra layer of sweetness to counteract the traditional bitterness of an IPA.
Again, the brewer recommends drinking straight from the can to ensure none of the delicious hop aromas are lost during the pour.
8. Pliny the Elder (Russian River Brewing Company, USA)
The Russian River Brewing Company among the breweries that are blazing a trail in the North American craft beer scene, and one of their signature brews is their imperial IPA known as Pliny the Elder.
It’s made by combining a mix of amarillo, centennial, CTZ and simcoe hops that creates a perfectly balanced beer combining the flavor of the hops with notes of citrus and pine.
If you want to understand what the fuss is about with the West Coast IPA style, this beer will answer all your questions – if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on one, that is!
9. Pliny the Younger (Russian River Brewing Company, USA)
Pliny the Elder was one of the beers that helped establish Russian River as one of the pre-eminent names among West Coast craft breweries, but with their Pliny the Younger, they may even have outdone themselves.
This is a triple IPA – unlike the Elder version, which is a double. That means it has more hops, more flavor, more alcohol and more of just everything. If you enjoy IPAs like Pliny the Elder but want to ramp it up a level, this beer should be high on your wish list.
10. Punk IPA (BrewDog, UK)
The best-selling craft-style beer in the UK over the last few years, Scotland-based BrewDog’s Punk IPA is actually an American-style India Pale Ale that has become the company’s flagship brew.
Inspired by North American brewers working on their versions of IPA, it takes New World hops and uses them to create a beer that’s fruity and boisterous.
You’ll find notes of grapefruit, pineapple and other more exotic tropical fruits along with a pleasant bitterness that balances the flavor rather than dominating it.
This is a reliable classic and a great introduction to the American IPA style if – somehow – you’re still unfamiliar with it.
11. King JJJuliusss (Tree House Brewing Company, USA)
Tree House Brewing is a big name in the world of New England IPAs, and this beer was created to celebrate their fourth anniversary.
It’s a new version of the brewery’s King Julius beer, but to mark their birthday, they decided to throw in a whole load of extra hops, and King JJJuliusss was the result.
It’s a deeply hazy beer that’s bright orange in color. It’s packed full of all kinds of fruit flavors and is sure to be a big hit with fans of the original Julius – or of the New England style in general.
12. Double Sunshine (Lawson’s Finest Liquids, USA)
The Double Sunshine from Lawson’s Finest Liquids is an American double IPA that, at 8% ABV, packs a powerful punch.
It’s dominated by tropical fruits in both the nose and the flavor profile, and drinking a glass or two of this will transport you somewhere hot and sunny, even in the cold depths of winter.
13. San Miguel Manila (San Miguel, Spain)
This beer might not technically be an IPA, but it’s close enough, so we decided to include it anyway – just because it’s something different. In Spain, the standard San Miguel is nothing special, the kind of inexpensive beer you can pick up at the supermarket for very little money.
However, the company also produces several other versions, and the generously hopped Manila is among the best. It is a darker beer than most IPAs – and technically, it’s actually a dark lager rather than a pale ale.
But this means it also has a deep maltiness to go with the traditional hops flavor of an IPA, making this a beer that most fans of India Pale Ale will enjoy trying.
14. Dinner (Maine Beer Company, USA)
An imperial India Pale Ale with an ABV of 8.2%, the Dinner is the Maine Beer Company’s first foray into the world of double IPAs. As the brewers explain, they focused heavily on the hop aroma and flavor of this beer, and they’ve very much achieved what they set out to do.
The hoppy bitterness is also well balanced by a range of tropical and citrus notes, including grapefruit, tangerine and mango, creating a well-rounded and immensely enjoyable beer.
15. Citra (Kern River Brewing Company, USA)
A popular imperial IPA from Kern River Brewing that, as you may well guess from the name, is made using citra hops. It’s copper in color and delivers a relatively modest but appealing nose of citra, fruit and perhaps pine.
On tasting, you’ll be treated to a whole range of fruity flavors that includes lemon, grapefruit, tangerine, pineapple and more. There’s also a surprising undertone of malt in this one, making it an intriguing beer to evaluate.
16. Double Dry Hopped Congress Street (Trillium Brewing Company, USA)
There is something of a trend at the moment for various breweries to take a successful product from their range and to beef it up with extra hops.
That’s what this beer is all about – it’s a double-hopped version of Trillium’s Congress Street IPA, and despite the extra hops, it still manages to be a well-rounded New England IPA that balances its bitterness with a refreshing amount of fruity flavors.
This is not a subtle beer, but if that’s how you like them, this one is sure to hit the spot.
17. Nelson (Alpine Beer Company, USA)
For those interested in broadening their horizons within the world of IPA, this golden rye IPA from Alpine Beer Company is highly recommended.
It is dry hopped with Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand combined with European rye to give it an unusual and unexpected flavor.
It’s a hazy light-orange color in the glass topped by a light and fluffy head, and the taste tends towards countryside fruits with a pleasant hint of malt. More than worth tracking down for the more adventurous type of beer lover.
18. Axe Man (Surly Brewing Company, USA)
With this beer, Surly Brewing has combined citra and mosaic hops to create a brew that’s bursting with tropical fruits and citrus flavors – but that also has plenty going on behind the scenes.
It displays a hazy yellow color beneath a delicate head, and it has a nose that’s full of hops. In the mouth, there’s also a certain moody darkness that lingers behind the brighter tastes that you notice when you first start to sip.
19. Citra Bitter Monk (Anchorage Brewing Company, USA)
A world-class Belgian-style IPA produced in the US by the Anchorage Brewing Company, this beer is aged in French oak chardonnay barrels and uses Apollo, citra, and simcoe hops at various stages during the brewing process.
It has a slightly hazy appearance, an oaky nose and a flavor profile that includes notes of peach, wheat and spice. An exemplary beer of its type and some would claim a better Belgian-style IPA than anything the Belgians produce themselves.
20. Live A Rich Life (3 Floyds Brewing Co., USA)
At 9.5% ABV, this is a strong Belgian-style IPA that should be treated with respect. It is deeply hazy in appearance with a color that close to orange.
Although it’s unmistakably an IPA, the predominant hoppy flavor is well balanced by just the right amount of malt, creating the perfect marriage of sweetness and bitterness backed by a complex array of fruit notes.
This is a great choice for those who prefer a bit more sophistication and depth in their IPAs – rather than just a rampage of hops.
21. Barrel-Aged Double Shot Double Black (Bent Paddle Brewing Co., USA)
This is a beer that pushes the boundaries, exploring the limits of where it’s possible to go with an IPA. It’s infused with two doses of Madagascar vanilla beans and is then aged for 15 months in bourbon barrels, creating a brash, bold beer that is rich in aromas of oak, vanilla and coffee.
At 11.2% ABV, it isn’t short of an alcoholic kick, and you’ll be able to detect notes of toast and sweet maltiness as you drink it. Does it go too far to still be regarded as an IPA? We’ll leave that for you to decide.
22. Duvel Tripel Hop Cashmere (Duvel Moortgat Brewery, Belgium)
Duvel is one of Belgium’s iconic beer brands, and this take on the IPA style using cashmere hops is one that any beer aficionado needs to try. In the glass, it has a pale golden-yellow hue with plenty of fluffy head, just like the classic Duvel blonde.
Smelling it, you’ll be able to detect citrus odors along with notes of grass and spices – as well as the delicious aroma of the cashmere hops themselves.
In the mouth, of course, the dominant flavor is, again, the hops, but there’s plenty more going on below the surface, and you may be able to notice more spice and floral notes in the taste.
Surprisingly, despite the 9.5% ABV, alcohol isn’t a dominant flavor, making this a crisp and refreshing IPA that’s very easy to drink.
23. Society & Solitude #2 (Hill Farmstead Brewery, USA)
A dark IPA might sound like an oxymoron (after all, the “P” does stand for “pale”), but as long as a beer tastes good, we don’t mind what people want to call it. And this one really does taste good.
On pouring, the rich brown color is topped by a creamy head, and the nose gives you hints of burnt toast, chocolate, treacle and pine. Some people might argue that there isn’t much that’s very “IPA” about this beer (which would be a fair comment), but it’s still more than worth sampling if you have the opportunity.
24. Batch 10000 (Short’s Brewing Company, USA)
As the name suggests, this brut IPA was created to celebrate the 10,000th batch of beer brewed at Short’s Brewing Company.
It’s a double with strong notes of mango and blackcurrant as well as plenty of alcohol in the flavor profile – which, at 14.2%, is hardly surprising.
There’s no lack of hops in there either, so this is a beer that should leave all the diehard hopheads well contented.
25. Brutal Doodz (Pipeworks Brewing Company, USA)
A deliciously complex brut IPA brewed with galaxy, simcoe and ekuanot hops. It has a hazy golden color and a nose that is quite hard to pin down but that is suggestive of countryside fruits and cut grass.
It’s surprisingly fizzy, making it fresh, crisp and moreish with a pleasantly bitter aftertaste.
26. Goldstock Ale (New England Brewing Co., USA)
This is a beer to keep your eyes peeled for since it isn’t bottled – it’s only ever sold on tap. However, for those fortunate to come across it in a bar, don’t hesitate for a moment to order a pint.
With a delightful golden-yellow color and an irresistible aroma that comes from the special German hops – along with a backdrop of fruit and a touch of malt – this beer is a treat to savor.
27. Delirium Argentum (Huyghe Brewery, Belgium)
Anyone who knows anything about Belgian beer will have come across Huyghe Brewery’s flagship Delirium Tremens and the slightly rarer Delirium Nocturnum.
And anyone who has tried either of those will also surely be curious to try the brewery’s take on an IPA, which goes by the name of Delirium Argentum.
It has an appealing deep amber color and pours with a big fluffy head. On the nose, you’ll detect yeasty, bready notes along with the obvious aroma of hops and citrus fruit. The flavor profile is quite complex, with hints of caramel or perhaps brown sugar.
At 7% ABV, it’s not quite as strong as the other Delirium beers, but for anyone who enjoys Tremens and Nocturnum – and who is also partial to a Belgian IPA – this beer is not to be missed.
28. Tumbleweed IPA (Lewis & Clark Brewing Company, USA)
A classic English-style IPA with a golden, almost orange color and a delicate head. The nose is earthy with a touch of pine, and the flavor profile in the mouth is full of sweet caramel malt and some hints of citrus fruits.
For those used to American IPAs that are loaded with hops, the more subtle notes of this beer might come as a surprise. However, for those who want to try something more posed and understated, this could be a great alternative.
29. All Day IPA (Founders Brewing Company, USA)
There is something of a debate that’s not so much raging but as gently bubbling along concerning the existence of the so-called “session IPAs”.
Most people understand an IPA to be a generously hopped, bitter-tasting beer that tends toward the more potent end of the ABV scale. So if you cut back on the hops and you rein in the booze, is it still an IPA? Or is it just a pale ale that’s been given the fashionable IPA moniker to improve sales?
Well, we’re going to duck out here and let others decide. But if you want to taste one of the best-known session IPAs – and one of the beers that helped launch the whole concept – Founders’ All Day IPA is the one to go for.
A huge range to sample
In our list, we’ve included a broad range of IPAs to represent the myriad styles covered by that term. At the same time, we’ve tried to select a few IPAs you’ll have no trouble finding as well as some of the rarer or more obscure gems that will be more of a challenge to track down.
Part of the joy of beer is in uncovering unexpected treasures of your own, but with the brews we’ve picked out here, at least you have an idea of some of the outstanding examples that shouldn’t be missed.