While the craft lager scene has exploded over the past few years, it still doesn’t rival the sales of the industry-dominating IPA. Whether it’s a dank West Coast, juicy New England-Style, or even a rich Milkshake IPA, you won’t find a craft brewery in the country without at least a handful of these hop-centric brews on tap.
While we definitely like IPAs around these parts, we know they can feel played out, overly hoppy, and redundant. Still, there are serious gems out there — gems which we all need a little help finding, because of the sheer number of these brews produced each year. In the past, we’ve shared our own IPA faves and called on bartenders for their picks, this time we grabbed the BeerAdvocate Top 10, drank them all, and reordered them according to flavor.
Check our tasting notes below and don’t you dare try to argue with us!
10) Ballast Point Sculpin
Average Price: $11.99 for a six-pack
The fact that this classic West Coast IPA consistently makes top ten lists is amazing because it’s available at pretty much every grocery store in America. Many others on this list aren’t nearly as easy to find. This subtly bitter, hop bomb gets its flavor from being hopped five different times during the brewing process.
Take a moment to nose this IPA and you’ll be met with strong pine and citrus aromas. The first sip is full of notes of fresh mango, citrus zest, orange peels, and guava. It all finishes with a nice, bitter bite of hops at the very end.
If you only try one beer on this list, make it Ballast Point Sculpin. It’s so damn easy to get. Grab a sixer the next time you’re shopping for groceries and see what the fuss is about.
BeerAdvocate Rank: 4
9) The Lone Pint Yellow Rose
Average Price: $11.99 for a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans
The Lone Pint’s most renowned brew, Yellow Rose, is technically a SMaSH (Single malt and single hop IPA). It’s brewed with whole-cone Mosiac hops and then dry-hopped with even more Mosaic hops. It gets its name from the famous Yellow Rose of Texas.
On the nose, you’ll find a massive spicy, pine needle aroma with a subtle hint of fresh fruit. The first sip is full of sweet berries, juicy pineapple, tart grapefruit, and more resinous pine. The last sip is refreshing, mellow, and full of more tropical fruit flavors.
If you’re a fan of Mosaic dry-hopped IPAs, this is the beer for you. It’s the only hop included and it’s definitely enough.
BeerAdvocate Rank: 3
8) Alpine Nelson
Average Price: $13.99 for a six-pack
This year-round 7% IPA from Alpine Beer Company in Alpine, California gets its name from the Nelson Sauvin hops that give it its flavor. These natives of New Zealand are added during the brewing process and dry-hopped to give it a memorable mix of floral and tropical fruit flavors.
On the nose, you’ll find strong tropical fruit and piney hop aromas. The first sip is bursting with more resinous pine, malts, and notes of guava, grapefruit, and mango. It all ends in a final flourish of fresh, crisp hop flavor.
This is the highest-rated IPA for a reason. It’s crisp, light, smooth, and perfectly suited for any day of the year.
BeerAdvocate Rank: 1
7) La Cumbre Project Dank
Average Price: $13.99 for a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans
Project Dank is one of the top ten IPAs on the list, but it’s a strange selection because it’s an every-changing beer recipe from La Cumbre’s “hop laboratory.” That is to say that every time they release a new “Project Dank” using different hops and hopping techniques it’s completely different than those that came before it. It must be great every time or it wouldn’t hold such an esteemed position on BeerAdvocate’s list.
The Project Dank we tested was filled with a garden of flowers and a basket of oranges on the nose. The first sip was honey, guava, grapefruit, and candied orange peels mixed with flowers and pine needles. The finish is slightly bitter with a large hop presence.
If you buy a few cans of Project Dank and enjoy it, save one to compare to the next batch. That is unless you can’t stop yourself from drinking it.
BeerAdvocate Rank: 5
6) Creature Comforts Tropicália
Average Price: $9.99 for a six-pack
One of the easier beers on this list to find at your local grocery store, Tropicália is a well-balanced, fresh, juicy, hazy, and downright crushable summer (and any other time of the year) staple.
The nose is filled with the scents of fresh-picked citrus fruits, sweet peaches, and just a hint of spicy hops. On the palate, you’ll find flavors of fresh tangerines, sweet passion fruit, and subtle pine that all end in a nice lingering but pleasing bitter undertone.
In a world of bitter and hoppy IPAs, this might be one of the most well-rounded. It’s also the most likely to appeal to IPA haters.
BeerAdvocate Rank: 9
5) Societe The Pupil
Average Price: $12.99 for a six-pack
If you see that an IPA is made in San Diego, there’s a pretty good chance it’s going to be a subtly bitter, hoppy treat. The city is well-known for its prowess in the IPA game and Societe The Pupil with its Nelson Sauvin, Centennial, and Citra hops is no different.
On the nose, you’ll be greeted with hints of fresh-cut grass, resinous hops, and fresh-squeezed oranges. The first sip is loaded with tart grapefruit, sweet passion fruit, juicy guava, and a nice subtle malt backbone to round it all out in the end.
This is one of the most popular beers in Southern California and only recently became available in cans. If you see it in a store, buy it. You’ll be happy you did.
BeerAdvocate Rank: 7
4) Surly Axe Man
Average Price: $18 for a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans
Surly refers to its beloved Axe Man as a “double dry-hopped journey to IPA Valhalla” and we couldn’t agree more. This 7.2% flavor bomb is brewed with Mosiac and Citra hops as well as Golden Promise Malts. The result is an aromatic, crisp, hop-centric brew.
Take a moment to breathe this IPA in and you’ll be greeted with aromas of lime zest, orange peel, and fresh fruit. The first sip is refreshing and full of tropical fruit and crisp citrus flavors. It’s tied together with a nice malt backbone and ends with a final kick of subtly bitter, piney hops.
This is a bold, hoppy beer. To truly get the most out of it, you should dress up like a Viking and drink it out of the horn of some type of majestic creature. Or a pint glass, if you prefer.
BeerAdvocate Rank: 2
3) Russian River Blind Pig
Average Price: $5.69 for a bottle
When it comes to brewing legends, it’s hard to top the brewing prowess of Russian River. Since it opened in 1997, the Sonoma County, California brewing has consistently made some of the most sought-after beers in the country, this includes its hazy, citrus-filled Blind Pig IPA.
This well-balanced brew starts with a nice bouquet of floral scents followed by citrus and subtle pine. The first sip yields notes of pine resin, grapefruit, lime zest, tropical fruits, and a dry, subtly bitter, pleasing finish.
While many drinkers go crazy over Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger, they’re completely missing out on a fresh, juicy, special beer if they forget about Blind Pig.
BeerAdvocate Rank: 8
2) Maine Beer Lunch
Average Price: $7.99 for a 16-ounce bottle
We love that many craft breweries hire artists to draw, paint, and sketch elaborate, eye-catching designs for bottles and cans. But we can also appreciate that the beer inside Maine Beer Company’s containers is so good that they merely need a simple, white label detailing what’s inside. And what’s in this bottle is a 7% IPA bursting with citrus fruit and pine tree goodness.
Before you sip, take a moment to breathe in the aromas of fresh pine, crisp grapefruit, and just a hint of sweetness. On the palate, you’ll find massive lemon zest, ripe orange, resinous pine, sweet papaya, and a gentle hint of caramel sweetness at the very end.
If I was going to drink beer for lunch, I would hope it would be a bottle or two of this epic, citrus-filled hop beast.
BeerAdvocate Rank: 6
1) Lawson’s Finest Triple Play
Average Price: $16.49 for a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans
Regardless of its name, this 11.1% monster isn’t playing around all. However, the “Triple Play” name doesn’t actually refer to baseball at all. It’s a reference to the three hop varieties in its recipe (Citra, Simcoe, and Amarilla).
On the nose, this beer is a hop monster. The aromas are all pine, citrus, and floral. The first sip is splashingly juicy and filled with dank hop flavors along with pine, grapefruit, orange, and subtle honey at the finish.
Lawson’s Finest is easy to find in Vermont, but not so easy in other places. If you can get your hands on this beer, drink it fresh. That’s the way they prefer it.
BeerAdvocate Rank: 10