If you’re anything like us, you probably spent most of the summer drinking IPAs, lagers, pale ales, and wheat beers. These lighter beers are well-suited for hot, hazy summer days. But fall is barreling towards us in a tornado of dried leaves and pumpkin spice. So it’s time to start thinking about transitioning to darker, heavier beers. But you don’t have to go from a juicy, hazy IPA right to a rich, malty stout. There are steps in between.
An easier transition is found by spending the few remaining summer days drinking double IPAs. These higher ABV, pungent, flavorful brews are the perfect beers to bridge the gap between light summer beers and heavy, dark cold-weather brews. But with heavily hopped beers like these, it’s easy to go wrong — so we don’t want you to grab the first six-pack you see at your local grocery store.
Instead, we decided to ask the professionals for help — hitting up a handful of our favorite bartenders to tell us their favorite end of summer double IPAs.
Sweetwater 420 Strain Trainwreck
Nicholas Wyatt, bar manager at Teddy’s Bourbon Bar in Prattville, Alabama
Sweetwater’s 420 Strain Trainwreck. It’s bright and citrus-forward with notes of vanilla that round out the mid-palate before an oddly familiar, herbaceous finish.
La Cumbre Full Nelson
Timmie Hoffman, bartender at Salt7 in Delray Beach, Florida
My all-time favorite double IPA is La Cumbre Full Nelson. It is jam-packed with hops (over ten pounds) a little bitter and also is juicy so it quenches your thirst. It’s everything that a double IPA drinker would want to sip on.
Toppling Goliath King Sue
Nico Diaz, owner of CRFT Cocktail Catering Service in New Hope, Pennsylvania
My favorite Double IPA is King Sue by Toppling Goliath. It’s hazy and juicy with a mean grapefruit bite at the end. It’s definitely hard to beat.
Russian River Pliny the Younger
Anthony Aviles, general manager of Jack Dusty in Sarasota, Florida
You won’t find it in Florida, and they’re very picky about who/where they ship to, but if you can get your hands on Pliny the Younger, you won’t regret it. For as light and crisp as it drinks (even at 11% abv), it packs some surprisingly well-crafted flavors and pairs well with just about anything you eat.
While in Napa, California, I drank PTY while eating Spanish tapas dishes one night and burgers the next, and it didn’t disappoint in either sitting. Pliny the Elder was also very good, but “The Younger” takes the cake in my personal opinion.
Fiddlehead Second Fiddle
Drew Reid, bartender at W Aspen in Aspen, Colorado
Fiddlehead’s Second Fiddle. Vermont beer is in my blood, and I always revert to a handful of Vermont breweries. Second Fiddle is everything you want in a double, with tropical fruit smells and tastes and big pine notes. It is far too easy to drink too many of these.
Pipeworks Ninja VS Unicorn
Meredith Barry, executive beverage chef at Angad Arts Hotel in St. Louis
Ninja VS Unicorn from Pipeworks. Pineapple and pine. For a double/imperial IPA the bitter hop is real chill, with a perfect balance of tropical sweetness. Be careful, though — that 8% ABV will sneak up on you!.
Benjamin Burch, bartender at The Nolen in San Diego
Bell’s Hopslam. It is just so hard to beat. Beer drinkers have been so lucky for so long because the market simply blew up and supply reached a point of total saturation. You can walk into any corner store in a lot of cities and grab a phenomenal beer off the shelf that you’ve never heard of before. They’re everywhere and widely available. On the flip side of that, that means it’s also not too hard to end up with a mediocre beer, either.
Cigar City Florida Man
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That feeling when you think you’re cracking a 4.5% lager, but accidentally crack a #FloridaMan by @cigarcitybrewing, oh well. It’s still delicious. . . . #cheers #bartender #floridabeer #drinklocal #cannedbeer #ipa #dipa #indiapaleale #doubleipa #cigarcity #hechoamano #cigarcitybrewing #worldsworstsuperhero #cigarcityfloridaman
Eva Al-Gharaballi, bartender at Datz in St. Petersburg, Florida
Florida Man Double IPA from Tampa Bay’s Cigar City Brewing Co. is my go-to DIPA. Extra hoppy with flavors of grapefruit, mango, and passion fruit.
Boulevard The Calling
Stephen Potter, lead bartender at The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck in Grand Rapids, Michigan
My favorite double has to be Boulevard Brewing Co.’s The Calling IPA. I love the full body of this IPA. The strong malt balance of this beer rounds it off really nicely. There isn’t that in-your-face bitterness many go for. The biggest thing for me with this beer is the low ABV. At only 8.5%, I can actually enjoy more than one.
Bell’s Double Two-Hearted
Tommy Ergle, bar manager at Dr. BBQ in St. Petersburg, Florida
One of the best double IPA’s on the market has to be Bell’s Double Two-Hearted. Bell’s took their classic Two-Hearted IPA and added two-and-a-half times the amount of Centennial hops — which really brings out some serious pine and citrus notes that make this such a smooth-drinking DIPA.
Institution Into the Wishing Well
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We have a new can release available today! Into The Wishing Well (Double IPA) – 8.7% Into The Wishing Well is brewed with Citra, Columbus and Mosaic hops for a fruity and resiny hop profile. Available in these awesome 4-packs and on tap. Come join us for a beer, we have outside dining available all week🍻! #Institutionaleco #camarillocraft #drinklocal
Mig Feliciano, head bartender at Hollywood Roosevelt in Los Angeles
I’m not a routine DIPA drinker but on occasion, I pick one out. It had been a while, so I got mixed six to take a flight of beer and the winner was Into the Wishing Well DIPA by Institution Ale Company out of Camarillo California. It felt like a pleasure and privilege to drink this 8.7% ABV big beer. It smells like fresh-cut grass and has lingering stone fruit with a crisp finish. Very nice.
M. Special Lazy Eye DIPA
Jeremy Allen, bartender at MiniBar in Los Angeles
We’ve been drinking a ton of M. Special Brewing Company’s Lazy Eye DIPA. Love it ‘cuz it’s not too sweet, ultimately pair-able and versatile, and gets the job done. Tiny little brewery with a bunch of personalities out of Goleta on the coast of California.
Alchemist Heady Topper
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A nice gift from our real estate agent. #headytopper #alchemistheadytopper #thealchemist #craftbeer #craftbeernotcrapbeer #craftbeerlove #craftbeernerd #craftbeergeek #beerstagram #instabeer #beerlover #beergeek #beernerd #craftbeerlife #craftnotcrap #drinking #currentlydrinking #nowdrinking #beerlabel #craftbrew #craftbeerlover #beer #drinkcraft #beerporn #craftbeerporn #beerme #thegiftofbeer
Damian Langarica, head bartender at a.bar in Philadelphia
My favorite Double IPA is definitely Heady Topper from The Alchemist, an awesome craft brewery from Vermont. It’s a great Double IPA, perfect balance of bitterness and fruitiness for those really into strong, bitter IPAs or DIPAs and for those are new to the game.
Against The Grain Citra Ass Down
Emmanuelle Massicot, beverage director of Kata Robata in Houston
Against the Grain’s Citra Ass Down – good beer and puns! Citra is one of my favorite hops for IPAs because it gives them a juicy quality that mitigates a lot of the hoppy bitterness and also sneakily masks the booze.
Modern Times Alien Radio
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It may interest you to know that our selection of hop-centric beers is absolutely out of control at the Fermentorium right now. Here’s what’s currently flowing (left to right): – Effective Dreams IPA (Great Notion collab & last month’s special release can) – Clear & Present Dankness IPA (Collab with Cellarmaker & an upcoming special release can) – Double Dry-Hopped Blazing World – Ninety Isles (West Coast-style IPA pilot batch) – Orderville IPA – We also have a ton of dark, coffee-laden, spicy, and tart beers on tap, but this line-up of hop-bombs was too killer not to call out. Let’s party.
Dannika Underhill, bartender at Kindred in San Diego
Modern Times Alien Radio. It features a couple of my favorite styles of hops (Citra and Simcoe) for a truly in-your-face aromatic experience. Juicy tropical fruits and pungent pine intermingle for a truly ethereal drinking experience.