Pinner Throwback IPA, from Oskar Blues Brewery. 

Pinner Throwback IPA, from Oskar Blues Brewery. 

Oskar Blues

India pale ales, or IPAs, continue to be the most popular craft beer style in America. Much of this style's prevalence in the market can be attributed to its ability to provide strong, often interesting, hop aromas and flavors.

And due to its complexity of flavors, more and more breweries are using this style to really showcase their creativity. 

National IPA Day

The days of avoiding IPAs by consumers who traditionally stay away from "very hoppy" beers are fading quickly, and as the definition of this style continues to expand, it appeals to an increasing variety of palates. The IPA consumer is now as diverse as the style itself. Some like hop explosions, which overpower you with strong hop aromas and flavors. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some prefer session IPAs, which offer a more subdued, delicate hop profile. And there are so many choices that fall between and even outside of these two sub styles: Belgian IPAs, black or white IPAs, and even sour or wild IPAs to name a few.

But no matter how much hop character you like in your beer, there's one thing that often separates an average IPA from a superior one: balance. By "balance," I mean the balance of all flavors present in your glass; primarily, how the maltiness and the hop characters play off one another. 

Malt and hops are often viewed as flavor opposites. Those IPAs (or any beer for that matter) that balance these two components along with yeast characteristics, are often the ones that receive the highest ratings among consumers. Without a solid malt backbone to balance out strong hop characteristics, you are left with nothing more than a hop bomb. And if too malty, then one wonders if the beer should adequately be considered an IPA. But just like any good beer, the extent of all flavors working together without one overpowering the other is critical.

Another key component -- arguably the one that ensures the beer tastes as intended by its brewers -- is freshness. Keeping beer cold and fresh is always important to preserve all the wonderful flavors within. Hop-forward beers like IPAs are most negatively affected by aging because hops are first to fade in both flavor and aroma. In other words, the fresher the IPA is, the better it will taste. 

Improper storage and extended aging can severely diminish, those wonderful hop aromas and flavors we all love. That's why local beers, particularly IPAs, simply taste better -- they haven't traveled as far over a longer time period to get to your glass!

To celebrate last year's IPA Day, I wrote about the history of the style, along with an overview of the wide range IPA variations that exist today. This year, I'd like to share a list of incredible IPAs that the team at Community Beer Co. enjoys. For every IPA listed here, I know we've left off five or six. So, let the debate begin! But whatever your opinion, feel free to continue navigating the universe of wonderful IPAs America has to offer!

Once again, Happy National IPA Day!

Pinner Throwback IPA

Pinner Throwback IPA

Oskar Blues

Pinner Throwback IPA

Brewery: Oscar Blues Brewery (Longmont, Co.)

Style: Session IPA

Notes: Awesome take on the session IPA. Super floral and citrusy, yet refreshing and not overpowering. Easy to drink several without overdoing it.

Artaic

Brewery: Trillium Brewing Co. (Boston, Ma.)

Style: Imperial or double IPA

Notes: Super hoppy, yet big malts, so well balanced and way too easy to drink for 8.5 percent ABV.

MetaModern

Brewery: Oasis Texas Brewing Co. (Austin, Texas)

Style: Session IPA

Notes: Easy-drinking, low ABV with a well-rounded finish.

From flickr user Mike McCune 

From flickr user Mike McCune 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mccun934/

Chainbreaker

Brewery: Deschutes Brewery (Bend, Ore.)

Style: Belgian white IPA

Notes: A great white IPA that has been around for a long time. A classic!

Galaxy White IPA

Brewery: Anchorage Brewing Co. (Anchorage, Alaska)

Style: Belgian white IPA

Notes: Another great white IPA. Awesome melding of Belgian yeast and galaxy hops.

Heavy Machinery

Brewery: Austin Beer Works (Austin, Texas)

Style: Changing styles from imperial IPA to black IPA

Notes: Interesting way to bring different styles to market -- same name, different IPA style with each release. Those crazy Austin Beer Works guys!

Greenhouse

Brewery: Hops & Grain (Austin, Texas)

Style: American IPA

Notes: Another brewery that changes up their IPA by changing the varieties they use for dry-hopping on each release. Very cool way to figure out what hops you're into and experiment with different hop profiles.

From flickr user Christer Edvarsten 

From flickr user Christer Edvarsten 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cogocogo/

Ruthless Rye

Brewery: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, Calif.)

Style: Rye IPA

Notes: Awesome example of this style, with a nice spicy finish, but not over the top. The rye compliments the beer very well.

Tribute Double IPA

Brewery: 14th Star Brewery (St Albans City, Vt.)

Style: American double IPA

Notes: This double IPA is juicy and the tropical aromas make the beer a delightful experience.

Tropicalia IPA

Brewery: Creature Comforts Brewing Co. (Athens, Ga.)

Style: American IPA

Notes: This one is a favorite in the beer nerd community. Grapefruit and orange flavors complement aromatic tropical hop explosion. Perfect for warm weather.

Anti-Hero IPA

Brewery: Revolution Brewing Co. (Chicago, Ill.)

Style: American IPA

Notes: A unique Bubble Yum sweetness is what made us fall in love with this one.

From flcikr user nalserle

From flcikr user nalserle

https://www.flickr.com/photos/naiserie/

Yellow Rose IPA

Brewery: The Lone Pint Brewery (Magnolia, Texas)

Style: American IPA

Notes: So much flavor coming from this beer. Surprising since it is made with a single malt and a single hop, whereas most IPAs use a variety of malt and hops. Also known as a SMaSH IPA (single malt, single hop).

Sit Down, or I will Sit You Down

Brewery: Peticolas Brewing Co. (Dallas, Texas)

Style: Imperial IPA

Notes: A local favorite! Very well-balanced and easy-drinking for 10 percent ABV brew.

Mosaic IPA

Brewery: Community Beer Co. (Dallas, Texas)

Style: American IPA

Notes: OK, we are a little biased, but folks seem to love it, too. It's one of our top sellers, so we work hard to maintain a desirable balance in this one.

Booze News Insider Kevin Carr is the founder of Community Beer Company, an award-winning brewery located in Dallas, Texas.

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