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Bucket List IPAs You Need To Try At Least Once, Ranked

If you’re a big craft beer drinker, there’s a good chance you use an app to track the brews you’ve been lucky enough to sip. So you may very well know which classics you’ve had and which you still need to track down. Maybe you even have a few “white whales” you’re always looking out for.

While every drinker’s palate is different — and with over 9,000 breweries in the country — there are obviously a ton of IPAs available for the beer aficionado to try. And of course, everyone’s bucket list will be at least slightly different and calibrated to their own unique palates. But we still decided to come up with our list and even went so far as to rank them.

8) Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine

Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine
Lawson

ABV: 8%
Average Price: $15.99 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

The Beer:

Made by Lawson’s Finest Liquids in Vermont, this beer is based on the original Double Sunshine IPA. Brewed with Columbus and Citra hops, it’s known for its combination of caramel malts, floral, slightly bitter hops, and tropical fruit flavors.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is a combination of orange peel, dank hops, wet grass, and slight caramel malts. The palate is herbal and loaded with resinous pine, caramel malts, tangerine, mango, passion fruit, and floral hops. It’s a nice mix of sweetness and bitter pine.

Bottom Line:

This beer is dank city. If that’s your jam, definitely add this beer to your list. If you prefer a beer to have a less bitter profile, try something hazier and juicier.

7) Maine Lunch

Maine Lunch
Maine Beer

ABV: 7%
Average Price: $7.99 for a 16.9-ounce bottle

The Beer:

Named for a whale that’s been seen swimming off the coast of Maine since 1982, Maine Lunch is brewed with Simcoe, Amarillo, and Centennial hops. It’s most known for its citrus, tropical fruit, and resinous pine flavor profile.

Tasting Notes:

Grapefruit, tangerine, citrus zest, and pine are prevalent on the nose. Sipping it reveals a slightly herbal backbone with a wallop of mango, guava, orange pulp, some caramel malt flavor, and a nice kick of resinous, bitter pine at the very end.

Bottom Line:

As New England IPAs go, this one is tough to beat. It’s more citrus-centric than some casual drinkers might be used to though. If you’d rather have more tropical fruit flavor then this iconic beer isn’t for you.

6) Tree House Julius

Tree House Julius
Tree House

ABV: 6.8%
Average Price: $5.50 for a 16-ounce can

The Beer:

Massachusetts’ Tree House is well-known as a beer pilgrimage destination. But, even with all of its success, everyone still wants to try one beer in particular: Julius. The brewery’s flagship IPA is hazy, pillowy, and filled with tropical fruit with slight hop bitterness.

Tasting Notes:

This beer’s nose is citrus to the max. Orange zest, lemon essence, grapefruit, tangerine, pretty much every other citrus fruit you can imagine. The palate follows suit with more juicy grapefruit, ripe tangerine, lemon, as well as light malts, and a herbal, piney, floral, bitter finish that ties everything together.

Bottom Line:

Citrus is the name of the game with Julius. It’s a well-rounded, well-balanced New England-style IPA that ends with a bitter finish. It’s necessary to bring everything together. If you’d prefer not to have any bitterness, look elsewhere.

5) Trillium Congress Street

Trillium Congress Street
Trillium

ABV: 7.2%
Average Price: $12 for a 750ml bottle

The Beer:

Another Massachusetts brewery, Trillium is well-known in the craft beer world. Its flagship beer is its Congress Street IPA which gets most of its flavor from the addition of Galaxy hops from Australia. It’s been made in other versions, including a double dry-hopped IPA, but the first is still the best and most sought-after.

Tasting Notes:

Pine is center stage on this beer’s nose. It’s followed by orange zest, lemon rind, caramelized pineapple, and a slight malt flavor. Sipping it brings forth notes of tangerine, guava, mango, passion fruit, honeydew melon, and a nice kick of bitter, resinous pine at the finish.

Bottom Line:

When it comes to well-rounded New England-style IPAs, Congress Street ticks all of the flavor boxes. It’s filled with citrus, and tropical fruit flavors as well as caramel malts and dank, bitter pine.

4) Surly Axe Man

Surly Axe Man
Surly

ABV: 7.2%
Average Price: $18.50 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

The Beer:

While Minnesota might not be known as a beer drinker’s paradise, Surly is worth the trip alone. Especially for its Surly Axe Man IPA. Originally brewed in collaboration with Denmark’s Amager Brewery, it’s double dry-hopped with Citra and Mosaic hops and Golden Promise malt.

Tasting Notes:

This beer smells like a classic West Coast IPA with notes of dank pine, ripe oranges, and grapefruit. There are also herbal, grassy, and slight spice notes. On the palate, you’ll find hints of lemon curd, orange peel, ripe grapefruit, wet grass, and a wallop of bitter, piney, resinous hops at the end.

Bottom Line:

This beer is aptly named. It’s a bold, aggressively hoppy, citrus-centric, bitter finished beer. It’s definitely not for everyone but should be a bucket list beer for West Coast IPA fans.

3) The Alchemist Heady Topper

The Alchemist Heady Topper
The Alchemist

ABV: 8%
Average Price: $19.99 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

The Beer:

Stowe, Vermont is home to one of the most obsessed over breweries in America: The alchemist. Home to multiples beloved beers including Heady Topper, it’s a must-visit brewery if you ever find yourself in New England. Heady Topper, its take on the American double IPA is fresh, hoppy, slightly bitter, and highly memorable.

Tasting Notes:

A lot is going on with this beer’s nose. Aromas of tangerine, lemon zest, grapefruit, pineapple, and ripe peach or prevalent. As well as some dank, piney, slightly herbal notes. More of the same on the palate with fruit esters, pineapple, mango, citrus zest, and caramel malts. The finish is dry and slightly bitter.

Bottom Line:

There’s a reason Heady Topper has historically been one of the most sought-after IPAs. It has to be imbibed to be believed. Citrus, tropical fruits, malts, this beer has everything in unison.

2) Russian River Blind Pig

Russian River Blind Pig
Russian River

ABV: 6%
Average Price: $5.50 for a 16.9-ounce bottle

The Beer:

Casual IPA fans might be surprised by this pick because we could have easily added Pliny the Elder or Pliny the Younger here. Sure, if you get California’s Russian River, you have to try those beloved beers. But we think the best most bucket-list-worthy IPA from the brewery is actually Blind Pig.

Tasting Notes:

Wet grass, peach, grapefruit, tangerine, ripe peach, and resinous, dank pine. This beer’s nose is everything IPA fans could ever want. The palate continues this trend with more freshly cut grass, slightly herbal flavor, tart grapefruit, caramel malts, and fresh, resinous, fairly bitter hops.

Bottom Line:

In our opinion, it’s tough to beat Russian River Blind Pig if you’re a fan of bold, aggressively bitter, piney West Coast-style IPAs. This beer has everything they could ever want.

1) Hill Farmstead Susan

Hill Farmstead Susan
Hill Farmstead

ABV: 6.2%
Average Price: Limited Availability

The Beer:

In the pantheon of bucket list IPAs, you’d have a difficult time finding one more sought-after than Hill Farmstead Susan. This oftentimes hard-to-find beer is named for the owner’s grandfather’s sister. It’s brewed with a combination of hops from Yakima Valley and Riwaka hops from New Zealand.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is filled with scents of ripe grapefruit, orange zest, lemon peel, ripe pineapple, and herbal, floral hops. The palate is highlighted by more tangerine, lemon curd, grapefruit, caramelized pineapple, and a surprising malty, caramel backbone. It all ends with a sweet, fruity, piney, bitter finish.

Bottom Line:

If you’re an IPA drinker, Hill Farmstead should be your holy grail. It’s a well-balanced, fruity, citrusy, malty, and perfectly bitter beer that needs to be added to your bucket list immediately.

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