The other day a friend challenged me to name my favorite IPA (and he's written about his top ten faves, too). In his defense, I'm sure he meant it as a question rather than a challenge, but it's so hard for me to pick my favorite that it feels like a challenge.
After much thought and some scientific calculations of ratings based on aroma, appearance, and taste (okay, kidding about that last part) I've come up with my list of my 10 favorites. I'll caveat it by saying that I obviously haven't tried every IPA out there (yet). And also, some of these may be double IPAs or whatever other category they fall in to, but I'm simplifying it - if it has IPA somewhere in the name or description, it counts. If I've written a review of it, I'm simply going to link to that. If not, I'll give a brief overview - and then thoroughly review it another time. Hey, if it's on the list, it should be on the blog.
10. Victory HopDevil
I've written about the Yakima Twilight, but not the HopDevil. This was one of the first hoppy beers I had, and I can still remember how much I enjoyed it. Victory Brewing is in Downingtown, PA and they produce some fantastic beers. The HopDevil uses American hops and German malts, producing a balanced taste that's not too overly bitter. It has a 6.7% ABV, making it easy to enjoy more than one.
9. Founders Centennial IPA
Hmm, I've written about the Founders Reds Rye, but not the Centennial IPA. I wonder if I've written about any of my favorite IPAs? (Kidding.) This is a really drinkable IPA - even though it does have a 7.2% ABV. It's not overly bitter (even though I enjoy that), but still has the nice hoppy flavor that I so love.
8. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
This is the beer I credit with turning me on to craft beer. And I've actually written about it! You can read my review here.
7. Stone IPA
Wait for it - I've written about the Stone Cali-Belgique IPA, but not the IPA. Wow. This is an eye-opening exercise. I apparently need to do a lot more writing! Anyway, the Stone IPA has a big hop presence, in the aroma, taste and bitterness. This is not an IPA for those that don't like their beers bitter - the hops will get you! But if you do like them, make sure you try this. 6.9% ABV. That makes it almost sessionable!
6. Bell's Two Hearted Ale
Um, right. So, I've written about the Bell's Oberon, but not the Bell's Two Hearted. I'm embarrassed for myself at this point. The Two Hearted is a good beer for hop heads. It's definitely got a hoppy bite to it, but it's balanced well with the malt. It's on the stronger side - 7.1% ABV, but still very drinkable.
5. Green Flash West Coast IPA
Another fave that I've actually reviewed! Green Flash is a fantastic brewery in San Diego, CA. You can read my review of the beer here.
4. Ballast Point Big Eye IPA
I've not only reviewed this beer here, I've sung it's praises to people near and far. It's a great beer that is a must-try for hop heads.
3. Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA
I thought the trend was bucked, friends, but (for what I know is the last time) I have to admit that I've written about the Weyerbacher Winter Ale but not the Double Simcoe. Sigh. The Double Simcoe is fantastic. It's brewed using only Simcoe hops, which are known for their low "harshness" levels, allowing brewers to use a lot without creating a harsh-tasting beer. It comes in at 9% ABV, but is so flavorful you'll likely want more than one.
2. Russian River Pliny the Elder
Can't say enough good things about Pliny the Elder. It was one of the first beers I reviewed, and you can read it here. Piney, hoppy deliciousness in a glass.
1. Ballast Point Sculpin
All my internal battling about my favorite IPA has landed me here - the Ballast Point Sculpin. It's just amazing. As I wrote in my review, which you can read here, I'd live in a bottle of this beer if I could. Everything about it is just that good.
Whew, I'm thirsty! Writing about all this fabulousness has me questioning how long I'm going to be able to hold out on a drink today.
But tell me - what do you think of my list? What IPA do you think I'm missing? As I mentioned, I know there are a number of IPAs waiting for me to try them, so let me know your favorites that aren't listed. Doesn't necessarily mean I haven't tried them, but I'd like to hear.