Top 50 IPAs in the USA, by State
There are over 4000 unique breweries around the good ‘ol USA. It seems that damn near all these breweries have AT LEAST one IPA, making it quite the task to pick the best IPA from the brewery, let alone each state. As of 2015, IPAs accounted for over a quarter of all craft beer sales in America. Now that is a lotta hops.
Ask a new homebrewer or craft beer aficionado what their favorite style is and there is a good chance they will tell you IPAs. It is no wonder that IPAs make up 25% of all craft beer sales not to mention what is brewed at home!
With all these IPAs out there, obviously some are better than others but how would you or I know. I have knocked back more than my fair share of IPAs and know which ones I prefer so far but there are soooo many more. In order to fast track you to the good ones I have found a list that highlights the best IPA from each state of the union. The great thing about lists like this is they make for great drinking conversation as you and your fellow craft beer enthusiasts relax at your favorite pub or on the porch on a warm summer evening. I have had the pleasure of partaking in approximately 25% of these IPA’s. So let the discussions begin.
Following list of the Best IPA in each state comes courtesy Mike Pomranz of FoodandWine.com!
Believe it or not, Birmingham’s Good People Brewing, founded in just 2008, is Alabama’s oldest operating brewery. They’ve maintain that title by churning out consistent brews like their signature IPA which sets itself apart by leaning on the herbal side of the IPA spectrum with notes of evergreen and anise balancing out a caramel backbone
Interested in hunting down possibly the most heralded Belgian-style IPA made in America? Don’t head east towards Europe. Head west. Way west towards Alaska. The Anchorage Brewing Company’s Bitter Monk Belgian-Style Double IPA offers more than just a massive 100 IBU punch: It’s also triple fermented first with Belgian yeast, then with funky Brettanomyces yeast in Chardonnay barrels, before being bottle conditioned with a third yeast strain. It’s wild, complex and refined all at once.
Tucson’s Dragoon Brewing Company launched in 2012 with just two beers: their Stronghold Session Ale and an IPA. Though both beers are still around today, the Dragoon IPA has been the backbone of the brewery, emerging as their most popular beer and one of the most highly acclaimed IPAs in the state with a bitter, West Coast-style swagger.
Roger’s Ozark Beer Company, who for years has been making some of the best brews in the state, take their IPA in the opposite direction, with a lighter, fruitier hop flavor and a low 5.5 percent ABV that practically puts it in the Session IPA category—an easy drinker for the laid back Ozarks landscape.
“Pliny the Elder?” beer snobs might groan. Yes, the much-heralded Double IPA from the Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa is the obvious choice from California, but it’s also the best choice—a piece of liquid history that still holds up as the standard-bearer for West Coast Imperial IPAs a decade-and-a-half after its inception, brimming over with citrus and resinous hop flavors.
There’s something to be said for consistency, especially in Colorado’s competitive brewing scene. Fort Collin’s Odell Brewing opened back in 1989 when craft breweries still languished in relatively obscurity. Their namesake IPA won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2007, the same year it was introduced, and has stood as a prime example of a well-balanced take on the style ever since.
India Pale Ales are the rock stars of the beer world: Many of them have outsized reputations that precede them. The hard-to-come-by Fuzzy Baby Ducks IPA, a single-hop Citra IPA from Woodbridge’s New England Brewing Company, is no stranger to praise from the craft beer community and is regularly ranked as one of the best IPAs in the world. Only your own taste buds can tell you whether this fruity, juicy IPA lives up to the hype, but these are definitely some ducks worthy of checking off your beer bucket list.
The signature line of “Minute” IPAs from Dogfish Head in Milton are a bit of a Goldilocks situation: the 60 Minute, though drinkable, is a bit too nutty. And the 120 Minute, though unique, is practically more whiskey than beer. However, the 90 Minute is just right: huge, evolving hop flavors cascading over a firm malt backbone. Upon its release in 2001, 90 Minute IPA immediately became the East Coast’s signature Imperial IPA. Though Dogfish Head doesn’t face much competition in Delaware, it’d be tough for any beer to topple 90 Minute from its throne.
No state in the continental 48 gets as close to the tropics as Florida, and Jai Alai IPA from Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing does an amazing job of bringing all those tropical flavors home to roost in this big fruit-forward IPA that slams your taste buds with mango, melon and a delightful sense of Florida citrus—even if the hops used to produce those notes come from nowhere near the southern state.
Like Cigar City, Athens’ Creature Comforts Brewing manages to coax an equally tropical aroma and flavor out of their aptly named Tropicalia IPA, bursting with notes of mango and oranges.
Getting from the mainland US to Waimea on Hawaii’s Big Island isn’t an easy task for either man or hops, but that doesn’t stop the Big Island Brewhaus from trying to go a little overboard with the dry hopping on this IPA. However, at only 6.7 percent ABV and 50 IBUs, this brew is still easy drinking enough to vibe with the island atmosphere.
Though your typical IPA is yellow, golden or even amber in color, “Black IPA” is a style that has grown in popularity over the past few years, adding darker malts to the IPA mix without compromising that big American hop aroma and flavor. Victor’s Grand Teton Brewing does an excellent and authentically Idahoan version of the style, brewing their Trout Hop Black IPA with seven types of hops, including four varieties grown right in the state.
Usually it’s a bad sign when discussion of a beer begins with its packaging, but the visual explosion that graces the cans of Ninja vs. Unicorn Double IPA—featuring art of a ninja and a unicorn going toe-to-toe in colorful battle worthy of its own graphic novel—is almost as engaging as the thick, resinous beer inside. Give credit to Chicago’s Pipeworks Brewing Company for doing great work both outside the can and in.
Another often underappreciated take on the IPA is the “Harvest Ale” which use “wet” hops, also known as “fresh hops,” that go straight from the farm into the wort, catching all those amazing hop oils before they’ve had any chance to dry out. The results are seasonal beers like the citrusy Broo Doo from Munster’s 3 Floyds Brewing Company that tend to exhibit an even bigger and brighter hop character.
Off the banks of the Upper Iowa River in the small city of Decorah—home to only 8000 people—is probably the last place you’d expect to find a big IPA bursting with the flavors of New Zealand. But believe it or not, the Toppling Goliath Brewing Company is making an acclaimed beer in America’s heartland brewed exclusively with Nelson Sauvin hops sourced from the South Pacific over 8,000 miles away. At just 5.5 percent ABV, ZeeLander is as drinkable as it is unexpected, a true example of how America’s craft beer movement is as international as it is local
Depending on how they’re constructed, IPAs can be a suitable beer for all sorts of weather: from light, tropical and citrusy versions that fit perfectly alongside a warm day, to malty and piney takes with a big ABV that can balance out the cold. One of Kansas’s best IPAs, the Free State Winterfest, is a member of the latter group.
Not long ago, the most common model for brewers involved a core lineup of beers—some available year round and some seasonally—that they would rotate through. But the newest trend is breweries that make whatever the hell they want, whenever they want, sometimes unleashing dozens of new beers in a single year. Louisville’s Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse sits on the latter end of that spectrum, creating an inevitable unpredictability about when some fan favorites may, if ever, return. The good news is when a beer becomes hot, brewers tend to know it, causing beers like the Citra hop-focused Citra Ass Down to keep finding its way into the fermenters.
Louisiana: Parish Ghost in the Machine
Many states on this list have IPAs that, through a mix of reputation, demand and limited availability have become legendary (as well as legendarily difficult to get your hands on). For Louisiana, that beer is Ghost in the Machine by Broussard’s Parish Brewing Company. Bottles of the juicy 8 percent ABV Double IPA regularly sell out within days of release. It’s the kind of IPA true beer geeks will schedule an entire trip around.
Maine: Maine Lunch
IPAs come in all shapes and sizes—singles and doubles, hop-forward and malt-backboned, bitter and fruity. Some have a “turn it up to 11,” headstrong mentality; others want to try to make everyone happy. On this spectrum, Lunch, from Freeport’s Maine Beer Company, is simply a perfectly crafted beer—not restrained but delicate; not fruity but flavorful; not intense but charming. It’s an IPA so great you don’t even need to think about how great it is.
Any good beer list should pay homage not just to the new hotshots, but to some of the original forebears of craft brewing as well. Baltimore’s Heavy Seas Beer, originally founded as Clipper City Brewing in 1995, is one of those brands. Back in the ’80s, founder Hugh Sisson helped get a law passed to legalize brewpubs in his home state. Today, the brewery’s flagship beer Loose Cannon continues to give people in Maryland something to cheer about—a well-rounded and drinkable IPA.
India Pale Ale is craft beers’ most popular category, so every state features tough competition, but few are as contentious as Massachusetts, home to two of the most heavily hyped IPA makers in the country: Monson’s Tree House and Boston’s Trillium. In the end, the nod goes to Tree House’s Julius for packing a big mango and passionfruit punch into a relatively streamlined 6.5 percent ABV package. Bowing to consensus, it also didn’t hurt Tree House’s cause that social beer tracking app Untappd currently has Julius ranked as the best American IPA in the world.
Michigan is making a lot of standout beers, but few have the pedigree of Hopslam from Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo. The long-standing seasonal Double IPA that drops in the dead of winter (January) isn’t just packed with six types of hops and dry-hopped with Simcoe, it’s also hit with a bit of honey that helps add a sticky mouthfeel to a pineapple-forward flavor that is pleasantly overwhelming.
For the rest of us, an IPA called Masala Mama might sound ridiculous, but in Minneapolis, taking down a pint of the brew is practically a rite of passage. The highly-regarded downtown brewpub Town Hall has been serving up this acclaimed IPA for well over a decade, and though many beer trends have come and gone, this lighter, 5.9 percent ABV beer has maintained its reputation by being an easy-drinking crowd favorite.
Hattiesburg’s Southern Prohibition Brewery has taken a unique approach when it comes to their Cicada Series IPAs: Since 2014, they’ve vowed to brew a different one every year for that year only, and then it’s gone never to return. The 2014 IPA and 2015 IPA were both big hits. For the 2016 IPA, the brewery switched things up with a 5.4 percent ABV dry-hopped session version. By all indications, it could be their best in the series yet.
With so many IPAs on the market, brewers constantly seek ways to help their brands standout. Schlafly Beer, brewed by The Saint Louis Brewery, decided to look half way around the globe to make their Tasmanian IPA with, as the name suggests, Australian hops. The result is a citrusy brew that tastes miles away from the kind of stuff you’re going to get at that other well-known St. Louis-based brewery.
Single hop IPAs have become a pretty hot trend that have brewers using only one variety of hops so drinkers can really hone in on a particular hop profile. “Single malt” IPAs, however, are a bit rarer, in part because IPAs are so dominated by their hoppy side. But that doesn’t mean that great single malt beers aren’t out there, like the one from Helena’s Blackfoot River Brewing. It’s made with “100 percent Crisp Maris Otter floor-malted barley” before getting its hop kick from a mix of Simcoe and Cascade.
For lists like this, it always feels fitting when one of the beers is its state’s namesake. But Nebraska IPA didn’t earn this spot by moniker alone. Since opening in 2007, Papillion’s Nebraska Brewing Company has become one of the state’s most acclaimed brewers and their piney West Coast-style IPA is a worthy representative, not only for the brewery but for the state as a whole.
For years, one of the biggest sins in Sin City was that it could be hard to find decent locally made craft beers in a town so famous for its acceptance of drinking. Thankfully, Las Vegas has finally come around and beers from places like Tenaya Creek are becoming more commonplace on menus, even in touristy stops along the Strip. The brewery’s Hop Ride IPA is aggressively hopped enough to give beers from more lauded brewing cities a run for their money.
Praising a hip new brewery offering up a big, juicy, fruity IPA that’s become extremely sought after in part because it’s hard-to-find has become a bit of a craft beer cliché, but it’s simply the state of the industry today. Newcomers like Newington’s Stoneface Brewing Company, which opened in 2014, came bursting onto the scene with new brews bursting with hop flavor like their namesake IPA. Unfortunately, for now, you can only find it in New Hampshire, but if it didn’t have limited distribution, it wouldn’t fit the cliché now would it?
What is Boat Beer from Atlantic Highland’s Carton Brewing? The can proudly proclaims it as a “Session Ale,” but if you dig through the finer print, you’ll find it described as “an IPA for everyday drinking.” At only 4.2 percent ABV it’s got the alcohol credentials of a Bud Light, but that low gravity helps the 35 IBUs really dance out of the glass. So though Boat Beer might be atypical, even by Session IPA standards, let’s give it the benefit of the doubt as an IPA because it’s probably the most drinkable brew you’ll find in New Jersey—maybe even on this entire list.
With wine, we often think of every vintage as unique; with beer, we expect consistency. But that isn’t always the case. Brewers tweak recipes, quality of ingredients change, and sometimes beers even get flat-out redone. With Project Dank, Albuquerque’s La Cumbre Brewing admits their inconsistencies. Though the gist of the beer stays the same, the brewery describes this project as “an ever changing expression of our hoppiest endeavors.” Despite those changes, they must be doing something right: The evolving brew is consistently ranked as one of the best IPAs in the country and even brought home a bronze medal at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival.
Grimm Artisanal Ales prove you don’t need your own brewery to churn out world class beers. Although they plan to open a tap room soon, the gypsy-brewing husband and wife team conjure up recipes in their Brooklyn apartment before heading to someone else’s facility to bring their visions to life. Recently, the results have been some of the best Double IPAs in New York, or anywhere for that matter, including the wildly juicy, barely bitter Lambo Door.
In recent years, no category at the Great American Beer Festival has seen more entries than American-Style India Pale Ale. This past year, for example, 336 beers competed for the top three medals. By comparison, the next most popular style, Imperial India Pale Ale, had just 208 entries. So it is no small task when, in 2015, Asheville’s Wicked Weed Brewing came home with the silver medal for their Pernicious IPA, the brewery’s flagship beer that openly skirts on malt complexity, instead choosing the route of heavy dry-hopping.
According to the Brewers Association’s most recent numbers, North Dakota has fewer breweries than any other state. But that doesn’t mean it’s without any drinkable IPAs. If you happen to find yourself in Bismarck, drop into the Laughing Sun Brewing Company. Their Feast Like a Sultan IPA shows just how far the craft beer movement has spread.
Sure Ohio state may not seem as natural a brewing ground as the hop growing meccas of Washington or Oregon, but a laundry list of Rust Belt brewers are making amazing hop forward beers: places like Fat Head’s, Hoppin’ Frog and Great Lakes just to name a few. But for the state’s IPA du jour, we’re picking White Rajah IPA from Strongsville’s The Brew Kettle. It just took bronze in the American-style IPA category at the Great American Beer Festival.
In meteorology, “F5” is the strongest classification for a tornado, something Oklahomans know all too much about. So by calling a beer the F5 IPA, Oklahoma City’s COOP Ale Works set big expectations. Most of this brew’s power comes from its hops, a mix of Columbus and Falconer’s Flight that pushes the IBUs over 100. Thankfully, the ABV is a more reasonable 6.8 percent, meaning, unlike with a real F5, this beer won’t turn your night into a total disaster.
The moniker of this brew from Bend’s well-respected Deschutes primes your brain for a burst of juicy hop flavor—a promise the beer delivers on, coaxing plenty of grapefruit and citrus out of its Citra and Mosaic hops. There are certainly trendier IPA picks in the state, but Fresh Squeezed is a delightful IPA that’s also delightfully easy to find.
Since opening in 2012, Tired Hands Brewing Company located in the Philadelphia suburb of Ardmore has exploded onto the scene as one of the East Coast’s most competent producers of hop-forward beers. And though their big imperial hop bombs get plenty of attention, it’s also important to see how breweries work with lighters beer. With that in mind, don’t sleep on Virgins & Diamonds, a wildly drinkable 4.2 ABV Session IPA smacking of Mosaic hops but also brewed with oats, spelt and rye to help it go down easy.
Westerly’s Grey Sail Brewing waited a couple years before jumping on the Imperial IPA bandwagon. But upon its release in 2014, Captain’s Daughter was an immediate hit. It really shows off its malty side of, using light pilsner malt and an untypical addition of flaked oats before Mosaic hops to make this brew a true sweet and skunky delight.
Speaking of an Imperial IPA with a little something extra, North Charleston’s COAST Brewing Company adds a touch of wheat to their Boy King Double IPA to help lighten up the malt base before overloading this beer with Citra hops along with five other varieties. The result is a tropical tasting 9.7 percent ABV beast beloved by beer geeks all over the state.
Hill City’s Miner Brewing is known for taking a lot of risks by adding unique fruits to their beers. They must figure when your brewery is stuck in the middle of the Black Hills, who’s going to stop you? Recently, they’ve been serving up an interestingly named Blue IPA—a 6.9 percent ABV, Mosaic-hopped IPA that’s also made with blueberries, adding a bit of literal fruit to Mosaic’s already tropical flavors.
Nashville, like a lot of America’s hippest cities, has seen an explosion in the number of local craft breweries opening within its city limits over the past few years. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to give up on the area’s oldest brewery just yet. Blackstone Restaurant & Brewery opened in 1994 and continues to go strong. Refusing to rest on its laurels, Blackstone introduced its first high-gravity beer nearly two decades later in 2012, the West Coast-style Adam Bomb IPA, a slightly sweet brew that many consider to be the best of the style in the state.
“SMaSH” beers—which stands for “single malt and single hop”—have grown in popularity recently, which is a bit because they focus more on fitting into an ingredient rubric than on crafting the best overall flavor. Using only two ingredients allows brewers to really focus in on those specific flavors, but the idea is also inherently limiting. Still, as Magnolia’s Lone Pint Brewing Company proves, that doesn’t mean SMaSH beers can’t be delicious. Their Yellow Rose made from only Pilsener malt and Mosaic hops has quickly become a Texas classic.
Epic Brewing Company is devoted to bringing stronger beers to Utah (a state with famously strict alcohol laws). Nearly six years later, the Salt Lake City-based brand still sticks to that vision with brews like their ever-changing Imperial IPA. Each numbered release, which, as of 2015 stands at 50, features a slightly different hop and malt profile. But one thing remains constant: the brewery’s commitment to keeping the brew “hard hitting” not just in flavor but in an ABV punch that always lands near 9 percent.
Yes, The Alchemist—maker of the legendary IPAs Heady Topper and Focal Banger—is in Vermont. And another Green Mountain brewery, Hill Farmstead has exploded to legendary status as well. But beer, like most things, comes down to personal tastes, and Sip of Sunshine from Lawson’s Finest Liquids in Warren is my favorite Vermont IPA. Fruitier than the uber-bitter Heady Topper, less composed than Hill Farmstead’s Susan, Sip of Sunshine is assertive in all the right places.
For decades, An Bui had established himself as a man about town in Richmond’s beer scene, building a reputation by crafting the renowned beer list at his bar, Mekong. But he never had a beer to call his own. That changed in 2014, when he opened The Answer Brewpub. Finally, among the pub’s 50-plus taps serving up great beer from around the county, Bui was able to pepper in a few brews from a brand he now controlled, including Larceny, a single-hop Citra IPA that has become an instant cult favorite among Bui’s loyal followers.
The Bale Breaker Brewing Company has an advantage that other breweries do not: They opened in 2013 in the Yakima Valley—the number one hop producing region in the United States. Not only do they source hops from their own figurative backyard; the brewery is literally surround on three sides by a hop field. Maybe that helps explain why their flagship Topcutter IPA has already garnered so much acclaim.
West Virginia has been a bit behind on the craft beer boom, ranking 42nd in breweries per capita. But don’t worry, now West Virginians can find plenty of solid brews like Devil Anse IPA from Maxwelton’s Greenbrier Valley Brewery, an IPA that prominently features Galaxy hops from Australia.
Wisconsin is known for its beer history; it even has a professional sports team called the Brewers. But like the rest of the country, the state has plenty of relative newcomers as well, including Madison’s Ale Asylum which opened in 2006. One of their biggest hits has become Bedlam!—a punctuation-accented IPA that aggressively mixes brewing traditions by slamming the beer with Citra hops and fermenting it with Belgian-style yeast.
This past year, Jackson’s Melvin Brewing took home Small Brewpub of the Year honors at the Great American Beer Festival—not bad for a little brewery running out of the back of a Thai restaurant (though they’ve recently been expanding into a much larger, new location). The brewery earned its honor in part thanks to their dank and fruity Melvin IPA that scored a bro
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