This is the month of endlessly sunny and often magical summer days. But hazy, hot weather requires refreshment, and we can only drink so many ice-cold hard seltzers and canned cocktails before we’re left longing for a smooth craft beer with a little depth. That’s where our old pal the IPA comes in.
Whether you prefer a bitter West Coast IPA or a hazy New England-style IPA, the sprawling beer style is ideal for warm weather drinking. But not all IPAs thrive in the dog days of July. A super bitter beer, for example, is rarely refreshing — whereas a pure fruit bomb might be great but end up feeling one-note after a few cans. In our (not so humble) opinion, it’s all about balance.
Below, you’ll find eight of our favorite craft-brewed IPAs that master that sense of balance. They don’t swing too far in any direction, offering a variety of notes well-suited to the season. Make sure to click on the prices if you want to try any of these refreshers yourself!
Average Price: $10 (six-pack)
If you’ve never heard of Houston’s Karbach, you’re really missing out. Karbach Hopadillo is a bold, dry-hopped “Texas IPA” brewed with a pleasingly bitter cacophony of German Magnum, Cascade, Citra, Amarillo, East Kent Goldings, and Simcoe hops.
Pouring this beer into a pint glass reveals aromas of fresh-cut grass, subtle hay, bright citrus, and biting floral hops. On the palate, you’re welcomed into a world of biscuit-like malts, caramel sweetness, resinous pine, wet grass, and a ton of vibrant bitter hops presence at the very end. This one is dangerously close to veering too bitter but is modulated by its malts.
This beer is remarkably bitter. But that’s not such a bad thing because the addition of a ton of malt flavor tempers it well and makes this beer extremely refreshing on a hot day.
Cigar City Florida Man
Average Price: $13 (six-pack)
Tampa’s Cigar City’s flagship beer is Jai Alai IPA. It’s an amazing, delicious summer beer. But if you’re trying to amp up the alcohol by volume and the hop flavor, grab some Florida Man. Made to pay tribute to the Sunshine State’s headline-grabbing denizen of the same name, Florida Man is a hoppy, tropical, slightly bitter double IPA brewed with Azacca, Citra, El Dorado, and Mandarina Bavarian hops.
The nose is filled with scents of ripe grapefruit, lemon zest, mango, and a subtle hint of pine. The palate is a symphony of bitter orange, guava, pineapple, grapefruit, caramel malts, and fresh-baked bread. The finish is filled with tropical fruit flavors and bold, slightly bitter hops.
If you’re a fan of Jai Alai or juicy, fruity IPAs, this is a great step up in the flavor as well as the ABV department. It’s a great beer for the end of a long summer day — never overpowering, always accessible.
Creature Comforts Cosmik Debris
Average Price: $16 (six-pack)
With a name like Cosmik Debris, you should assume this beer is full of out-of-this-world flavor. It totally is. This double IPA is brewed with Chinook, Cascade, Strata, Simcoe, and Mosaic hops. The result is an intensely hoppy, piney, fruity beer well suited for summer drinking.
On the nose, you’ll find aromas of caramel malts, orange peels, pineapple, guava, and dank, piney hops. But rather than staying in that lane, this complex beer features flavors of biscuity malts and a caramel sweetness that is paired well with citrus zest, grapefruit, and a final flourish of piney hops on the finish.
This is a classic example of a highly hoppy beer that doesn’t knock you off your feet with bitterness. It’s well-rounded with a great malty backbone.
Average Price: $12 (six-pack)
This year-round offering gets its name because of the brewing process used to create it that consists of cycling of hops using Troegs’ HopBack vessel and dry-hopping with the likes of Bravo, Chinook, Mt. Hood, Nugget, Cascade, and Citra hops. This results in a highly floral, citrus-filled, slightly bitter summer refresher.
Nosing this beer reveals hints of caramel malts, resinous pine, wet grass, and a nice, gentle citrus hops aroma. Take a sip and you’ll find notes of lemon zest, grapefruit, ripe berries, sweet malts, and bold hop bitterness at the finish. A lot is going on with this beer. It’s thirst-quenching with just the right amount of hops bitterness.
This is a great summer IPA because it’s a coastal bridge. It’s bitter like a West Coast IPA but still filled with floral, fruity flavors, and malts like an East Coast IPA.
Burial Surf Wax IPA
Average Price: $15 (six-pack)
This year-round offering was created to be an epic beach beer. It was definitely a success. Brewed with Centennial, Columbus, Citra, and Mosaic hops, it’s filled with floral, citrus flavors and a nice bitter bite.
A lot is going on with this beer’s nose. It starts with ripe pineapple, wildflowers, wet grass, and cereal malts. The flavor is loaded with more wet grass, tropical fruits like mango, guava, and pineapple as well as biscuit-like malts, and a nice, low bitterness at the very end.
If you’re only going to bring one IPA to the beach, make it this one. It’s fruity, filled with citrus flavor, wildly refreshing, and has just the right amount of piney bitter flavor without ever being too much.
La Cumbre Elevated IPA
Average Price: $11 (four-pack, 16-oz. cans)
There’s a reason this beer won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival. It’s bright, hoppy, and highly complex. Brewed with Durst Munich, Bairds Carastan, and Canadian Superior Pale malts as well as Rahr white wheat and loaded with Hallertauer Herkules, CTZ, Centennial, Chinook, Simcoe, Mosaic, Citra, and Nelson Sauvin hops.
This is a hop lover’s dream — but it’s also not just hoppy.
You’ll find scents of orange zest, fresh grapefruit, caramel sweetness, and a nice resinous, swirling pine. Sipping this IPA reveals hints of grapefruit, pineapple, mango, lime zest, sweet malts, and a whole heap of floral, citrusy, bitter hops. It’s well-balanced, sweet, hoppy, and well-suited for hot weather drinking.
If you only buy one beer on this list, make it LA Cumbre Elevated IPA. This aptly named beer is so chocked full of flavor, it will take a few pints to find them all.
Bear Republic Racer 5
Average Price: $20 (12-pack)
Bear Republic’s flagship beer is one of our favorite West Coast IPAs for a variety of reasons. Most important of which is the fact that it’s one of the most well-balanced of the left coast’s IPAs. Brewed with wheat, crystal malts, and malted barley as well as Centennial, Chinook, Cascade, and Columbus hops, it’s bold, refreshing, and sublimely hoppy.
Right away, this makes itself known as a beer for IPA fans who enjoy citrus flavors. The aroma is filled with notes of tangerines, grapefruit, lemons, and lime zest. This pairs well with notes of resinous, dank pine. The palate is more of the same with a ton of ripe, zesty citrus flavor that marries well with caramel malts. It all ends with a dry, tart, lemon finish with a nice, pleasing bitterness.
If you prefer your IPA to be dominated by citrus flavors, this is the summer refresher for you. Lime, lemon, grapefruit, this beer has them all.
Sierra Nevada Dankful
Average Price: $12 (six-pack)
With a name like Dankful, you should have a pretty good idea of what you’re in for with this brew. Brewed with rye, Two-Row Pale, and Caramelized malts and a deluge of hops including Columbus, Chinook, Mosaic, Ekuanot, Nelson Sauvin, Zappa, and Idaho 7, this is truly a dank, piney, bitter beer.
Before sipping, you’ll notice aromas of dank, piney hops, mangos, guava, grapefruit, and light pale malt sweetness. The flavor is dominated by wet grass, more grapefruit, lime zest, and biscuit malts. The ending is sweet, fruity, and finishes with a light bitterness that leaves you craving more.
Sierra Nevada makes nothing but great, refreshing, memorable beers. Dankful is no different. If you love bright, slightly bitter, hop-filled brews, this is the beer for you — it certainly skews hoppy but never goes overboard.
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