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These Imperial IPAs Are Guaranteed To Turn Your Summer Up To Eleven

An IPA is one of those beers that’s suited for any season. But it’s really the summer months when the beer style truly shines. An India Pale Ale is bright, fresh, crisp, and filled with sometimes bitter, sometimes fruity hops. The hazy IPA and West Coast IPA are notable summer favorites. But if you really want to turn this season up a notch, you’ll want to sip a very hoppy and floral imperial IPA with a serious alcohol punch.

While the West Coast IPA is known for its bitter, dank hop aroma and flavor, its cousin the imperial IPA (sometimes called the double IPA depending on the brewery) is sweeter, maltier, higher in alcohol, and (while filled with hops) is much less bitter. Based on the imperial stout, the name was created to let the drinker know they were in for something that’s much bolder and higher in ABV than they might be used to.

To help you amp up your beer drinking game this summer, we’ve decided to let you in on eight of our favorite imperial IPAs for this (and every) season. Check them out below and click on the prices if you want to give them a shot yourself.

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

DogFish Head

ABV: 9%

Average Price: $15 (six-pack)

The Beer:

Back in the ’90s, Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione watched a cooking show where the chef continuously added pepper throughout a soup-making demo. He thought that the same thing could work for beer, but with hops instead of pepper. This led to the idea of continual hopping. Used in its 60 Minute, 75 Minute, 90 Minute, and 120 Minute IPAs, the technique consists of continuously adding hops during the boil.

This 90 Minute offering is layered with floral hops flavor but doesn’t have the usual hop bitterness.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is all pine trees, citrus peels, and fresh wildflowers. It’s pretty much a hop lover’s dream. The nose carries into the palate with resin, citrus, and the addition of dried fruits, and subtly bitter hops presence. The finish, on top of being filled with citrus and floral hops, has a nice sweet, caramel malt aspect to it.

Bottom Line:

When it comes to Imperial IPAs, it’s really hard to beat the appeal of Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. It’s 9 percent ABV and surprisingly crushable.

Firestone Walker Double Jack

Firestone Walker

ABV: 9.5%

Average Price: $13 (four-pack)

The Beer:

Firestone Walker is well-known for its hoppy IPAs. Its Double Jack was first launched in 2009 before it was removed from the rotation in 2016. It returned this past fall to wreck your palate with its triple dry-hopped boil as well as four cellar hop additions. This creates an intensely hoppy, yet surprisingly well-balanced imperial IPA.

Tasting Notes:

You’ll be met with scents of orange peels, citrus zest, wildflowers, and caramel notes on the nose. The palate is filled with fresh fruit flavors like limes, oranges, grapefruits, as well as resinous pine. A pleasing, mellow, bitter bite arrives at the very end.

Bottom Line:

The classic West Coast IPA is known for its bitter aroma and flavor. This double IPA takes it to another level with bold hoppy bitterness.

Avery Maharaja

Avery

ABV: 10%

Average Price: $15 (four-pack)

The Beer:

This is a really complex beer. It’s a potent ten percent ABV brew and is cooked with the brewery’s proprietary yeast strain, C-120, Aromatic, and 2-Row malts, as well as Columbus, Simcoe, Centennial, and Chinook hops. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also dry-hopped with Idaho 7, Vic Secret, and Simcoe hops.

Tasting Notes:

Right away, you’ll be struck by the aromas of orange peels, vibrant lime, and just a touch of honey sweetness. Taking a sip reveals notes of lemon rinds, more honey, orange zest, subtle pine, and a good deal of caramel malt flavor. It all ends with a nice combination of sweet citrus and bitter hops.

Bottom Line:

For a 10 percent ABV hop bomb, this is a surprisingly well-rounded and complex beer. There’s a great ratio of bitter hops to sweet malts.

Lagunitas Maximus

Lagunitas

ABV: 9%

Average Price: $12 (six-pack)

The Beer:

Lagunitas is yet another West Coast brewery that makes its name with potent, hop-fueled IPAs. It even made a beer called Hop Stoopid for a time. Its imperial IPA Maximus lives up to its bold name with the addition of Centennial, Simcoe, and Cascade hops as well as a load of malted barley for balance.

Tasting Notes:

Like all of the beers on this list, Maximus deserves a proper nosing before your first sip. If you do, you’ll find aromas of orange zest, ripe grapefruit, resinous pine, and sweet, caramel malts. The flavor is classic West Coast IPA with hints of pine tree, citrus zest, wildflowers, fresh-cut grass, and a nice sweet, malty finish.

All in all, this is a surprisingly balanced beer for the style.

Bottom Line:

If you’re a fan of Lagunitas’ other brews, it would behoove you to grab a sixer of this potent, hoppy brew. It’s surprisingly sippable.

Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine

Lawson

ABV: 8%

Average Price: $17 (four-pack)

The Beer:

This beloved beer lands in multiple beer styles. It’s a hazy, New England-style IPA, but it’s also an imperial IPA. Made to pay homage to the brand’s retired Double Sunshine IPA, this eight percent ABV IPA is filled with a mix of malts, locally sourced water, and bold, slightly bitter hops. It’s tropical, fruity, and tastes like summer in a pint glass.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is piled high with the smell of dank hops, tangerines, pineapple, fresh-cut grass, and just a hint of malt sweetness. The palate is complemented by notes of resinous pine, orange peels, grapefruit, mango, caramel sweetness, and a pleasing, bitter finish that leaves you wanting more.

Bottom Line:

If you’re a West Coast IPA fan unsure of trying hazy IPAs or vice versa, this is the beer to help you bridge that gap.

Bell’s Hopslam

Bell

ABV: 10%

Average Price: $19 (six-pack)

The Beer:

Bell’s Hopslam truly lives up to its piney, bitter moniker. It’s first brewed with six different hop varieties. Then, it’s dry-hopped using Simcoe hops. Robust malts that can stand up to all those hops — as well as the seemingly strange inclusion of honey — make this one of the most well-rounded hop monsters you’ll ever sip on.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is as complex as the ingredients, with aromas of lemon zest, sweet honey, earthy grass, orange peels, and slight resin. The taste is comprised of honey, caramel malts, more grassy flavors, citrus, florals, and a nice bit of pine at the end. There’s a great balance of flavors that make this a beer to come back to again and again.

Bottom Line:

When it comes to high ABV summer sippers, Bell’s Hopslam is truly in a class of its own. It’s piney, resinous, and slightly bitter. But it’s all tempered with the addition of sweet honey.

Troegs Perpetual IPA

Troegs

ABV: 7.5%

Average Price: $12 (six-pack)

The Beer:

This year-round offering is brewed with a symphony of hops including Bravo, Chinook, Mt. Hood, Nugget, Cascade, and Citra. It gets its balance from the addition of Crystal, Munich, and Pilsner malts as well as ale yeast. The result is a crisp and memorable beer.

Tasting Notes:

The aroma is ripe with fresh-cut grass, wildflowers, sweet malts, subtle tropical fruits, and bright hops. The flavor is filled with hints of lemon zest, pine trees, orange peels, subtle herbs, and pleasurable bitter yet floral hops. The last few sips are a great combination of fruity sweetness and bitter hops.

Bottom Line:

Since this beer is available year-round, you can drink it any time of the year. You can bring it to an NFL tailgate or pair it with your holiday meals. But it really shines in an innertube on the river on a hot summer day.

Surly Abrasive Ale

Surly

ABV: 9%

Average Price: $17 (four-pack)

The Beer:

Minnesota’s Surly has made quite a name for itself in the craft beer world in the last decade. Its Abrasive Ale is its foray into the world of imperial IPAs. While many imperial IPAs on this list are backloaded with hops, this beer gets much of its flavor from the addition of 2-Row and Acidulated malts as well as Golden Naked and flaked oats. But it isn’t lacking in the hop department either, with Warrior and Citra hops.

Tasting Notes:

Take a moment to breathe in the aromas of toasted malts, pineapples, orange zest, and dank hops. Tasting this beer reveals notes of bold caramel malts, citrus, tropical fruit flavors, and piney, bright hops. The finish is crisp, dry, and ends with subtly bitter yet floral hops.

Bottom Line:

This might be the most malt-forward of all the beers on this list. It still has the bitter, resinous hop flavor IPA drinkers expect, but it’s balanced nicely by the oats and malts.


As a Drizly affiliate, Uproxx may receive a commission pursuant to certain items on this list.

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