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Bartenders Name The IPAs They Always Suggest To Uncertain Guests

There’s no disputing the appeal of the IPA. While the lager is by far the most consumed beer in the world (by far), it’s difficult to argue the hold the IPA has on the craft beer world. With various styles, including the West Coast IPA, New England IPA, milkshake IPA, and various other types and offshoots, this hoppy, piney, sometimes (in the case of West Coast IPAs) aggressively bitter, sometimes fruity, juicy, and hazy (in the case of New England IPAs) beer style has a place on every craft brewery’s menu from Anchorage to St. Augustine.

But with so many to choose from, it can seem daunting to pick just one.

When trying to help pick the right IPA for a guest, Heather Buelna, head bartender at Sun Outdoors San Diego Bay in San Diego, first asks a few questions about their palate. “It largely depends on the context clues I am getting from the guest,” Buelna explains. “If they are new to IPAs and that is what is leading to their indecision, I always steer them to beers like Stone IPA. It’s not overly aggressive with its hops and has such a nice, light balance of flavors — so it feels like a safe choice.”

Since all drinkers are different, we asked a handful of notable bartenders to tell us the one IPA they always suggest for indecisive drinkers. Keep reading to see all of their picks.

War Pigs Foggy Haze

War Pigs Foggy Haze
War Pigs

Charles Bement, sommelier and beverage director of B. Hospitality in Chicago

ABV: 6.8%

Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

War Pigs is an off-shoot of 3 Floyds Brewing, a staple in pale ale production. Though my first recommendation for pale ale would be 3 Floyd’s Zombie Dust American pale ale, which I think is the quintessential pale ale and offers something for everyone. War Pigs contains a lot of the juiciness that pale ale fans enjoy while having just a little more bitter punch to it that is more unique to IPA drinkers. War Pigs IPA is very smooth and clean on the palate too.

Revolution Anti Hero

Revolution Anti Hero
Revolution

Kristan Arnold, bartender at Elgin Public House in Elgin, Illinois

ABV: 6.7%

Average Price: $10 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Revolution Anti Hero is always a solid choice. It has a crisp hop flavor that is great for people who aren’t sure what they want. It also pairs nicely with a wide variety of food. This is the one hoppy and balanced beer I always steer drinkers towards.

Founders All Day IPA

Founders All Day IPA
Founders

Andrew Guerin, bartender at Bourbon O Bar in New Orleans

ABV: 4.7%

Average Price: $8.50 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

Why This Beer?

Founders All Day IPA is an easy-drinking session IPA. The characteristics of an IPA are all there, but they come in softer. It’s a great IPA for those new to the style, or the regular IPA drinker just needing something to quench their thirst.

Modern Times Orderville

Modern Times Orderville
Modern Times

Heather Buelna, head bartender at Sun Outdoors San Diego Bay in San Diego

ABV: 7.2%

Average Price: $12 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

Why This Beer?

If the guest seems a bit more adventurous and seems to know that they enjoy the IPA style, I will lead them toward a great local selection, the Modern Times Orderville Hazy. This is a hop-forward beer, which some might find overpowering. But, to an IPA drinker, the unique combination of light and dark hops really creates a complex and aromatic beer drinking experience. If they seem up for it, I am happy to lead the way there.

Elysian Space Dust

Elysian Space Dust
Elysian

Daniel Yang, lead bartender at Electra Cocktail Club in Las Vegas

ABV: 8.2%

Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

My go-to is Elysian’s Space Dust IPA because, honestly, it’s just a genuinely easy to access IPA for those looking to jump in. Sitting at 73 IBU, this refreshing IPA offers notes of citrus and mango while still having a solid dry finish. It’s hard to beat.

Lagunitas Daytime

Lagunitas Daytime
Lagunitas

Evan Hosaka, lead bartender at The Dorsey Cocktail Bar in Las Vegas

ABV: 4%

Average Price: $10 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Lagunitas Daytime IPA is a winner. You can have one while you make up your mind. It’s so hoppy and refreshing. It’s only four percent ABV and low in calories so it doesn’t fill you up before you make up your mind. Plus, it’s a fairly flavorful, easy-drinking beer. You’ll probably just order another one.

Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing

Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing
Sierra Nevada

Lily Van Duyn, food and beverage manager at The Vinoy Renaissance in St. Petersburg, Florida

ABV: 6.7%

Average Price: $10 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Sierra Nevada’s Hazy Little Thing IPA is always my go-to. Dry-hopped and less filtered, this IPA has a fruit-forward flavor that is both refreshing and subtle. It’s juicy, hazy, and delicious. There’s a reason it always tops list for best hazy IPAs.

Black Hammer Justin Case

Black Hammer Justin Case
Black Hammer

Mariza Sabino, general manager at Dirty Habit in San Francisco

ABV: 5%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

Hands down, a session IPA. They’re nice and light, the hops aren’t overpowering, and it’s approachable in cool and warm weather. We’ve been pouring Black Hammer’s Justin Case Coconut Session IPA. It’s not too hoppy, but just enough so you know it’s an IPA. It has a lower ABV so they’re easy to throw back while you’re hanging out with friends.

Wendlandt Mexi Hazy IPA

Wendlandt Mexi Hazy IPA
Wendlandt

Stephen Ohalloran, bar manager at Camino Riviera in San Diego

ABV: 6.3%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

Wendlandt Mexi Hazy IPA is not quite as bitter as West Coast IPA and is easy to drink with fruity flavors. It’s also not as dry as some IPA options out there. It’s a very well-balanced and complex IPA.

Harland India Pale Whale

Harland India Pale Whale
Harland

Claire Sexton, bar manager at Kettner Exchange in San Diego

ABV: 6%

Average Price: $15 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

Why This Beer?

Harland India Pale Whale is my personal favorite. It’s not too heavy or over-hopped. It’s just a classic West Coast IPA that’s delicious and refreshing.

Tree House Green IPA

Tree House Green IPA
Tree House

Subhash Sankar, head mixologist at Alaia Belize in San Pedro Town, Belize

ABV: 7.6%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

Tree House Green IPA is my pick. This Double IPA is created with a massive kettle charge of Australian and American hops. It opens in the glass with huge notes of ripe pineapple. There’s a nice smoothness to this beer with fresh-cut pineapple stewed in pineapple juice and topped with candied pineapple. The malt backbone is chewy and substantial while the bitterness is dangerously smooth. Then there’s even more fruity notes of pineapple, mango, and assorted tropical fruit.

Stone IPA

Stone IPA
Stone

Aaron Ramirez, lead bartender at Mr. C Beverly Hills in Los Angeles

ABV: 6.9%

Average Price: $11.50 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

An easy IPA to recommend to people who can’t make up their minds is Stone IPA. Not only is this beer well known, but it’s also well balanced with notes of pear and honey which makes it an easy favorite for many people. It’s one of the best-rated beers on the market for a reason.

Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine

Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine
Lawson’s Finest

Samantha Seltzer, beverage and service manager at Royal Boucherie in Philadelphia

ABV: 8%

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

Why This Beer?

Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine from Vermont has ripe tropical fruit and honey malt finish. One sip always brings me straight to my happy place. Vermont is making some great hazy beers, and Sip of Sunshine is one of the best.

Jackie O’s Who Cooks For You

Jackie O’s Who Cooks For You
Jackie O’s

Annie Pierce, bartender and co-owner of Law Bird Bar in Columbus, Ohio

ABV: 5.5%

Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Jackie O’s Who Cooks For You is my pick. It’s a hazy pale that’s perfectly balanced. It’s big enough for IPA drinkers but not too heavy that it fills you up. It ticks all the boxes for indecisive IPA drinkers.

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