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We Blind Tasted Well-Known, Fruity IPAs To Find The Best Of The Best

If you’ve read any of our beer-related articles over the past month, you’ve seen a ton of references to fall and what this season means for beer drinkers. Autumn is a time for dark lagers, pumpkin beers, brown ales, and (as the weeks go on) strong ales, barleywines, stouts, and porters.

Of course, there are still plenty of seasonal IPAs on the shelf, too. It’s a style that never really has a fallow period. After all, citrus, tropical fruits, and spice are key elements of many fall and winter flavor profiles.

For this craft beer blind taste test we picked eight well-known, fruit-forward IPAs. They’re hoppy, slightly bitter, and loaded with notes of mango, lime, and even grapefruit. Keep reading to see which beers were our favorites and which crashed and burned.

Our lineup includes:

  • Saint Archer Tropical IPA
  • Hop Valley Stash Panda
  • Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin
  • Ska Modus Mandarina
  • Terrapin Luau Krunkles
  • Anchor San Franpsycho
  • Dogfish Head Flesh and Blood
  • Belching Beaver Here Comes Mango

Let’s dig in!

Part 1: The Taste

Taste #1:

Christopher Osburn

Tasting Notes:

While many fruit-based IPAs rely too heavily on the fruit flavor up front, this beer starts with resinous pine needles before moving on to grapefruit and lemon zest. The flavor is complex with caramel malts, more ripe grapefruit, and a subtly bitter, very earthy hops kick.

Taste #2:

Christopher Osburn

Tasting Notes:

Nosing this beer, I found a bold citrus aroma. This was followed by a heavy pine scent. That’s about it. Sipping it revealed a wallop of orange peel, some tropical fruit flavors, dank pine, and some malt presence. The finish was fairly bitter, with some fruit as well.

All in all, a beer that will most appeal to citrus fans. It’s a bit overwhelming for me.

Taste #3:

Christopher Osburn

Tasting Notes:

Aromas of grapefruit, mango, lemon zest, and a nice helping of dank, resinous, pine needles. Sipping it reveals notes of pineapple, grapefruit, lime, tropical fruits, light malt presence, and just the right amount of bitter, spicy, floral hops at the finish.

Taste #4:

Christopher Osburn

Tasting Notes:

This beer’s nose is really fruity. There are a ton of aromas including grapefruit, mango, and some floral hops scents. Even with the hops presence, the nose is almost too fruity. The palate is loaded with guava, passionfruit, and lots of citrus.

It ends with a bit of resin, but not as much as I’d hoped.

Taste #5:

Christopher Osburn

Tasting Notes:

Taking a moment to nose this beer, I found aromas of tangerine, grapefruit, mango, and guava, as well as dank pine. The palate is loaded with more tropical fruit flavors, citrus zest, bready malts, and a nice, piney, slightly bitter finish that only seems to heighten the fruity flavors.

Taste #6:

Christopher Osburn

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, I found hints of wet grass, pine resin, orange peel, and lemon zest. The palate is more of the same with lemon, orange, some tropical fruits, an earthy flavor, as well as a nice floral, bitter hops presence that brings everything together.

Taste #7:

Christopher Osburn

Tasting Notes:

Complex aromas of sweet malts, floral hops, lemongrass, dank pine, and tropical fruits are prevalent on the nose. Sipping it revealed mango, guava, tangerine, caramel malts, and a gentle, dank, resinous pine. The finish is sweet, loaded with citrus, and ends with more floral, slightly bitter hops.

Taste #8:

Christopher Osburn

Tasting Notes:

This beer has a bit of a strange aroma. It’s overly citrus-scented, overpower any other potential scents. The palate is sugary sweet with hints of lemon, lime, and tropical fruits. It’s very juicy but doesn’t have remotely enough hop or malt presence to go back to for another sip.

Part 2: The Ranking

8) Anchor San Franpsycho (Taste #8)

Anchor

ABV: 6.3%

Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

The Beer:

San Francisco’s Anchor is one of the most well-known, oldest breweries in the U.S. It’s known for its classic beers, but it also makes a slew of great contemporary brews. This includes its fruit-forward San Franpsycho. This hazy, juicy beer gets its tropical fruit flavor from the addition of apricot and peach puree during the second fermentation.

Bottom Line:

This beer is juicy, hazy, and loaded with fruit flavor. But it’s too sweet for me to enjoy it very often. It’s almost like someone made Fruity Pebbles cereal into a beer.

7) Saint Archer Tropical IPA (Taste 4)

Saint Archer

ABV: 7%

Average Price: $10 for a six-pack

The Beer:

San Diego’s Saint Archer makes a wide variety of beers including a handful of IPAs. The brewery makes a fruity West Coast IPA called Saint Archer Tropical IPA brewed with Simcoe, Mosaic, and Citra hops. It gets its tropical fruit flavor from the addition of real passionfruit and mango.

Bottom Line:

I understand I’m taste testing fruit-forward IPAs. But I’d still like to taste beer. This IPA was a little too fruity for my liking. I could use more balance.

6) Ska Modus Mandarina (Taste #2)

Ska Brewing

ABV: 6.8%

Average Price: $10 for a six-pack

The Beer:

One of Ska’s best beers for fruit fans is its Modus Mandarina IPA. This bold brew is dry-hopped with Mandarina hops and brewed with orange peels to turn the citrus up to eleven.

Bottom Line:

This is a pretty good beer. The only problem is that it’s a little too heavy in the citrus zest department. It overpowers the rest of the flavors.

5) Stone Tangerine Express (Taste #6)

Stone Brewing

ABV: 6.7%

Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

The Beer:

Stone is one of the biggest names in the IPA game. It’s won numerous awards over the year for its beers. Fans of fruity IPAs love Tangerine Express, a citrus-fueled IPA that gets its cloudy, hazy appearance and bright, citrus flavor from the addition of tangerine and pineapple purée.

Bottom Line:

This is a great example of a great fruit IPA. It plays on the flavors already associated with IPAs with complementary citrus and herbal flavors paired with slightly bitter hops.

4) Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin (Taste #1)

Ballast Point

ABV: 7%

Average Price: $15 for a six-pack

The Beer:

Ballast Point is well-known for its Sculpin IPA. One of the highest-rated IPAs of all time, the beer comes in other versions including the popular Grapefruit Sculpin. This seven percent ABV IPA that’s flavored with grapefruit is available year-round. It’s known for its bitter, hoppy, slightly tart flavor.

Bottom Line:

This is obviously a citrus-based beer. But while that flavor note is obvious, it isn’t overwhelming. The other IPA flavors work in unison with the citrus fruits included.

3) Belching Beaver Here Comes Mango (Taste #7)

Belching Beaver

ABV: 6.5%

Average Price: $11 for a six-pack

The Beer:

With a name like Belching Beaver, you might not want to take this brewery seriously. You should. This brewery is consistently dropping bangers including Here Comes Mango. This 6.5 percent ABV IPA was brewed with Simcoe and Amarillo hops as well as natural mango flavors.

Bottom Line:

This is a very well-balanced IPA. It has a nice, tropical fruit flavor that pairs well with the pine and malt flavors. This is a beer I’ll definitely try again.

2) Terrapin Luau Krunkles (Taste #5)

Terrapin

ABV: 6.5%

Average Price: $11 for a six-pack

The Beer:

Athens, Georgia’s Terrapin Brewing makes a handful of memorable IPAs. One of its best is its Luau Krunkles. It’s called a POG IPA because on top of being brewed with Mosaic, Zythos, Citra, Galaxy, and Amarillo hops, and is dry-hopped with Simcoe, Citra, and Amarillo hops it gets its flavors from the addition of passion fruit, orange, and guava.

Bottom Line:

This is a truly two-dimensional beer. First is the tropical and citrus fruit base that’s subtle in its complexity. Add in the malt and pine and you have an extremely well-balanced IPA.

1) Hop Valley Stash Panda (Taste #3)

Hop Valley

ABV: 6.5%

Average Price: $11 for a six-pack

The Beer:

It’s right there in the name. Eugene, Oregon’s Hop Valley is a brewery for fans of the floral, slightly bitter beer ingredient. While the brewery makes a ton of great IPAs, one of our favorites is Stash Panda. Brewed with Cryo and Citra hops as well as grapefruit peel, this is truly a beer for pine and citrus fans.

Bottom Line:

This hazy, juicy, crisp beer is a great example of the best of both worlds. It’s filled with floral hops as well as juicy citrus. It’s a great beer to toast to the end of warm weather for a few months.


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