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Craft Beer Experts Shout Out The Most Underrated IPAs For Summer

As the great Ella Fitzgerald once sang, “Summertime and the living is easy.” There’s something special about summertime regardless of whether we’re working the same hours as the rest of the year or have the summers completely off. The weather is hot, it’s sunny, and you feel cosmically drawn to beaches, lakes, ponds, back patios… anywhere you can drop a folding chair, gravity chair, or bean bag chair and pull up a cooler of frosty, tasty beer.

And when those beers are summery, fresh IPAs? Well, that’s a great day in the making.

While there’s definitely a hierarchy of summery beer styles and there’s no doubt the pilsner has its place high on the list, IPAs still seem to own this season. Whether it’s a classic, piney, slightly bitter West Coast-style, juicy, hazy New England-style, or anything in between, these brews just hit different in June, July, and August.

The best thing about IPAs? There are so many on the market (it seems like every brewery makes a few) that there are bound to be underappreciated gems that just don’t get the respect they deserve. That’s why we went to a few well-known craft beer experts and brewers, who were kind enough to list their favorite underrated IPAs to drink this summer. Keep scrolling to see their picks.

Pure Project Pure West

Pure Project Pure West
Pure Project

Kevin McGee, President and CEO of Anderson Valley Brewing Company in Boonville, California

ABV: 6.3%

Average Price: $9.99 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

Why This Beer?

Pure Project Pure West, West Coast IPA. This is a great example of a Southern California West Coast IPA with plenty of grapefruit and pineapple flavors along with a classic West Coast IPA backbone. Everything about it pairs exceptionally well with Summer.

The team down at Pure Project has been doing exceptional things for some time now and their commitment to sustainability and social responsibility in going about it makes it easy to support them.

Eagle Park Set List

Eagle Park Set List
Eagle Park

Garth E. Beyer, certified Cicerone® and owner and founder of Garth’s Brew Bar in Madison, Wisconsin

ABV: 6.5%

Average Price: $9.99 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Set List by Eagle Park is liquid proof that impactful flavor and aroma can also be easy to drink. It’s an oxymoron, but they do. Somehow, they get a robust hop profile of citrus, tropical fruit, and hints of pine, but also, they work their magic to make it easy to drink two or three or four in a row.

Cigar City Jai Alai

Cigar City Jai Alai
Cigar City Jai Alai

Jeremy Marshall, brewmaster at Lagunitas Brewing in Petaluma, California

ABV: 7.5%

Average Price: $10.99 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

In my opinion, this popular beer is still underrated. I’ve always been impressed by Cigar City’s Jai Alai. Since it’s kind of always summer in Florida, it was hot and muggy when I had it. Like any IPA, it’s just downright sad if it’s not fresh. If you’re a proper beer nerd, you can smell a beer and recite the packaging date within a week.

I got a freshie and recall how blown away I was that it could manage that hoppiness and strength (7.5%) while also being refreshing.

Free State Yakimaniac

Free State Yakimaniac
Free State

Karlton Graham, head brewer at Kansas City Bier Company in Kansas City

ABV: 7.3%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

To begin, my favorite IPAs are good for summer anyway. I mourn the wane of Brut IPAs as it was my favorite IPA trend. I like a bright, dry, bitter, fruity/floral IPA with a decent amount of alcohol. For that reason, my go-to summer IPA is Yakimaniac from Free State Brewing. I believe there is an adjunct in it that keeps it dry and boosts the booze, along with the hops selected making it the one IPA I’ll buy a six-pack of for many occasions.

This beer is truly underrated.

Elysian Space Dust

Elysian Space Dust
Elysian Space Dust

Parker Penley, lead innovation brewer of Widmer Brothers Brewery in Portland, Oregon

ABV: 8.2%

Average Price: $11.99 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Don’t sleep on the classics. Elysian’s Space Dust is a classic Northwest-style IPA that is refreshing, flavorful, and readily available, yet underrated in the modern craft beer marketplace. It’s truly a great warm weather IPA and not too heavy like many of the double milkshake IPAs we see floating around.

Bear Republic Racer 5

Bear Republic Racer 5
Bear Republic

Rob Lightner, co-founder of East Brother Beer Company in Richmond, California

ABV: 7.5%

Average Price: $11.99 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Hazy IPAs have taken the spotlight recently but don’t forget about the humble West Coast IPA, which seems to be making a comeback. Flavor profiles are complex, from stone fruit to citrus to tropical to piney – so much to experience. Bear Republic’s Racer 5 has always been a go-to.

And is surprisingly underrated for how great it is.

Ska Modus Hoperandi

Ska Modus Hoperandi
Ska

Gary Glass, head brewer at Left Hand Brewing in Longmont, Colorado

ABV: 6.8%

Average Price: $9.99 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Ska Modus Hoporandi. In my mind, it’s probably underappreciated. This beer reminds me of the beers I was drinking in my more youthful days in California in the mid-90s. It has more than just hop flavor and bitterness. It has a solid malt backbone, with notes of caramel. It’s a little darker in color than most IPAs.

The piney, resiny, citrusy hop flavor and solid hop bitterness are just what I crave in a more old-school IPA.

Lagunitas A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’

Lagunitas A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’
Lagunitas

Ian Brown, head brewer at Biggerstaff Brewing in Atlanta

ABV: 7.5%

Average Price: $10.50 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

I’ve always enjoyed Lagunitas’ Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ in the summer. And I feel like no one talks about it these days. It’s close to an IPA with more of a light, wheat beer body, and constrained bitterness. Love it.

Illuminated Astronaut Juice

Illuminated Astronaut Juice
Illuminated

Ben Saller, founder and brewer at Burnt City Brewing in Chicago

ABV: 8%

Average Price: $15.99 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

Why This Beer?

Underrated because more people should know about it. I always like Illuminated Brew Works’ Astronaut series. It’s really fruity and delicious. I specifically enjoy Astronaut Juice. This 8% hazy, juicy imperial IPA is loaded with tropical fruit and citrus flavors that pair well with warm, summery weather.

Reason No Fail Mode

Reason No Fail Mode
Reason

Josh Radigan, director of food and beverage at Viceroy in Washington DC

ABV: 6.8%

Average Price: $12.99 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

Why This Beer?

Reason Brewery’s No Fail Mode IPA. You’ll find that the New England style IPA has intense aromas of citrus and hops. There’s a ton of grapefruit, tangerine, and other juicy, bright citrus flavors. It’s a fresh, hazy, juicy beer perfect for summer and definitely deserves more acclaim.

Writer’s Pick:

Societe Bulbous Flowers

Societe Bulbous Flowers
Societe

ABV: 7.2%

Average Price: $12.99 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Fans of hazy, juicy, unfiltered IPAs should look no further than Societe Bulbous Flowers this summer. This year-round offering is perfect for warm weather drinking with its tangerine, peach, guava, and mango-centric flavor profile. It’s the kind of beer you’ll crave on a hot, humid day.

It’s fairly new, but not as well known as the brewery’s other IPAs.

Writer’s Pick:

Hop Valley Cryo Stash

Hop Valley Cryo Stash
Hop Valley

ABV: 8.7%

Average Price: $10.99 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Brewed with 2-row, Caramalt, and Carafoam malts as well as Ekuanot, Citra, and Simcoe Cryo hops, this high alcohol IPA is known for its mango, tangerine, pineapple, guava flavors, all with a nice caramel malt backbone. It’s a great beer for a chilly summer night around a campfire and one that more drinkers should know about.

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