It seemed like such a good idea at the time. “Hey,” said one of DRAFT’s editors in early May, “We haven’t reviewed IPAs in a while. Why don’t we get a bunch of breweries to send some in and rank them, a la our big pumpkin beer tasting last October?”

We expected a decent response from the brewers we emailed asking for submissions. We did not expect to get nearly 400 IPAs in total. But the boxes of bottles, cans, crowlers and growlers (and even a couple plastic soda bottles) kept coming. In the end, our fridge was stocked with 386 IPAs from every region of the country, as well as a few from outside the States. For perspective, there were 312 entrants in the American IPA category at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival—the largest beer competition in the country.

Why go so big on IPA? As any bar owner or brewer paying attention will tell you, it’s far and away the most popular style among drinkers who enjoy better beer. The numbers back this up: According to market research group IRI, which tracks sales at grocery and convenience stores, sales of IPA have climbed from 8.9 percent of the total volume of Brewers Association-defined “craft” beer in 2011 to 25.2 percent in 2016. Get that? More than quarter of all the craft beer sold last year was IPA. And while substyles like session IPA and fruit IPA have bit into the total share somewhat, regular old American IPA is still king of the mountain, accounting for 76.4 percent of total IPA sales last year.

But more than that, nearly every brewery in existence makes an IPA. Knowing who’s doing it the best can be helpful when seeking out new breweries to visit.

Plus, we just really like IPAs.

Our judges and process
In preparing for this thing, we looked to some of our beer-writing peers for best practices; Paste Magazine and its tasting of 247 IPAs last year gave us a great rubric in terms of the structure and size of the tasting. As with every review we’ve ever published, the IPAs were tasted blind (meaning the folks drinking them had no knowledge of what they were drinking) by our panel of judges, all of whom are either Certified Cicerones or Beer Judge Certification Program veterans with a certified, national or master ranking. (One of our tasters is even BJCP and Cicerone-certified.)

While large, the selection of IPAs represented here is by no means exhaustive (with more than 5,000 breweries now active in the U.S., you gotta figure that there are at least 5,000 IPAs to try, right?). But we did our best to make it exhaustive, anyway. We emailed every brewer in our database to ask for submissions sent directly from the brewery to our office (which is how we got a vast majority of them). For brewers we couldn’t contact or who didn’t get back to us, we tried to grab bottles and cans through trades and at local stores. Inevitably, some great breweries will have fallen through the cracks, but we’re pretty proud of the collection we were able to assemble.

Since freshness is paramount in hop-focused styles like IPA, we gathered the beers throughout a single month and tackled the giant job of reviewing all 386 by setting up small daily tastings based on the time they arrived, so no beer spent more than a week in the fridge after arriving at our office. Once tasted, the beers were given a score out of 100, which we used to determine their placement.

What the tasting taught us
Here’s the thing about IPAs: Even within a style whose parameters in terms of color, alcohol content, bitterness and otherwise have generally been agreed upon, there’s a ton of variability. We tasted IPAs as clear as glass and as murky as gravy; as pale as straw and as dark as copper; as sweet as fruit juice and as bitter as, well, hops. They ranged in ABV from a floor of 4.8% to a ceiling of 7.8%; their hop flavors covered everything from grass, pine, orange, grapefruit to blueberries, cantaloupe and cannabis.

But a couple truths did reveal themselves as we experienced our Lupulin Threshold Shifts. First, haze is the new normal. A vast majority of the beers we tasted were at least partly cloudy; many were downright opaque. Clear, bright beers were so few and far between, in fact, that it became a pleasant surprise whenever they popped up. That said, haziness alone does not a great IPA make. Some brewers are still struggling to capture the juicy qualities of the still-somehow-controversial New England IPA.

So what makes a winning IPA? The versions that made our top 50 all have clearly defined, vibrant hop character and a malt character that, while present, stays mostly out of the while. While hop flavor and aroma varied, we generally preferred beers that kept things tropical, oniony, citrusy or dank. Plus, there had to be enough bitterness to remind us that we’re drinking an IPA. Of course, the answer to that question is different for every brewer and every drinker, and there was something to like about all the IPAs we tasted.

Here are all 336 entrants that didn’t make our top 50, listed alphabetically: 

10 Barrel Brewing Joe
3 Daughters Brewing Bimini Twist
Aeronaut Brewing Co. A Year with Dr. Nandu
Aeronaut Brewing Co. 3 Years with Dr. Nandu
Against the Grain Brewery Pile of Face
Alameda Brewing Co. Admiration
Alesmith Brewing Co. IPA
Altamont Beer Works Dank Row
Altamont Beer Works Mr. Nice Guy
Altamont Beer Works Shot Away
Amplified Ale Works Born to Lose
Amplified Ale Works Electrocution
Anchor Brewing Co. Liberty Ale
Anderson Valley Brewing Co. Eetah!
Angel City Brewing IPA
Appalachian Mountain Brewery Not an IPA
Arbor Brewing Co. Sacred Cow
Arbor Brewing Co. Buzzsaw
Arcadia Brewing Co. IPA
Arcadia Brewing Co. Rapunzel
Asheville Brewing Co. Perfect Day
Aspen Brewing Co. Independence Pass Ale
Atwater Brewery Street Artist
Atwater Brewery Better Life Choices
Bale Breaker Brewing Fresh Off the Farm
Bale Breaker Brewing Top Cutter
Ballast Point Brewing Co. Unfiltered Sculpin
Ballast Point Brewing Co. Sculpin
Banded Horn Brewing Co. Veridian
Bandwagon Brewpub Pirate Eye
Barrier Brewing Co. Money Mad Fat
Barrier Brewing Co. Kapow!
Bear Republic Brewing Co. Hop Shovel
Bear Republic Brewing Co. Racer 5
Belching Beaver Brewery Hop Highway IPA
Belly Up Beer Co. Howling Hank
Bhramari Brewing Co. Lorelai
Blackfoot River Brewing Co. Single Malt IPA
BLDG 8 Brewing The IPA
Bold City Brewery Mad Manatee
Boneyard Beer RPM
Bozeman Brewing Co. Hopzone IPA
Boston Beer Co. Sam Adams Rebel IPA
Boulder Beer Co. Mojo IPA
Brasseurs Sans Gluten Glutenberg India Pale Ale
Braxton Brewing Co. Revamp
Breakside Brewery Jerry Bears
Breakside Brewery Something Wicked
Breakside Brewery Wanderlust
Brew Rebellion Hops on Pops
Brewery Vivant Secret Rituals
Bristol Brewing Co. Compass
Burial Beer Co. Surf Wax
Butte Creek Brewing Co. India Pale Ale
Byway Brewing Chi.P.A.
Caldera Brewing Co. Mosaic IPA
Caldera Brewing Co. Hopportunity Knocks
Caldera Brewing Co. IPA
Cape May Brewing Co. Follow the Gull
Cape May Brewing Co. IPA
Cascade Lakes Brewing Co. Mosaic IPA
Cascade Lakes Brewing Co. Hop Smack
Catawba Brewing Co. CLT
Central 28 Beer Co. Show Pigeon
Central Waters Brewing Co. Rift
Cerebral Brewing Rare Trait
Cerebral Brewing Living Fossil
Cerebral Brewing Secret Chat Room
Chilly Water Brewing Co. One Hop Wonder
Cinder Block Brewery Block IPA
Circle Brewing Co. Lady Bird
Collective Arts Brewing IPA No. 2
Community Beer Works The IPA
Community Beer Works That IPA
Crazy Mountain Brewing Co. Hookiebobb
Crazy Mountain Brewing Co. Shane McConkey
Creature Comforts Brewing Co. Tropicalia
Crooked Fence Brewing Hop Notion
Crux Fermentation Project Gimme Mo
Deep Ellum Brewing Co. Deep Ellum IPA
Deep River Brewing Co. Mango Tango Foxtrot
Deep River Brewing Co. Golden Antler
Deschutes Brewery Fresh Squeezed
Devil’s Canyon Brewing Co. Western IPA
Devils Backbone Brewing Co. Cross Eyed Stranger
Devils Backbone Brewing Co. Eight Point
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery 60 Minute IPA
Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom Hop Lion IPA
Double Nickel Brewing Co. Lawn Surfer
Drake’s Brewing Co. Best Coast IPA
DuClaw Brewing Co. Neon Gypsy
DuClaw Brewing Co. Hop Hammer
Due South Brewing Category 3 IPA
Dust Bowl Brewing Co. Change Order
Ecliptic Brewing Starburst
Eddyline Brewing Crank Yankers IPA
Elevation Beer Co. First Cast
Elysian Brewing Co. Dayglow IPA
Elysian Brewing Co. Space Dust
Empyrean Brewing Watchman
Epic Brewing Spiral Jetty
Epic Brewing Citralush
Epic Brewing Escape to Colorado
Evil Czech Brewery Casshmere Ousside
Evil Czech Brewery Leng
Evil Czech Brewery Nefarious Harbor
Evolution Craft Brewing Co. Lot No. 3
Fargo Brewing Co. Wood Chipper
Fat Bottom Brewing Co. KnockOut IPA
Fieldwork Brewing Pulp
Fieldwork Brewing Misfit Stream
Finback Brewery Chromoscope
Firemans Brew IPA
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Luponic Distortion Revolution 006
Foolproof Brewing Co. The Grotto
Forgotten Boardwalk 1916 Shore Shiver
Fort George Brewery & Public House The Optimist
Fort George Brewery & Public House Vortex
Fourpure Brewing Co. Shape Shifter
Fremont Brewing Co. Interurban
Full Sail Brewing Co. Classic IPA
Full Sail Brewing Co. Hop Pursuit
Full Sail Brewing Co. Hop Shooter
Garvies Point Craft Brewery Wunderkind
Gnarly Barley Brewing Co. Jucifer IPA
Gnarly Barley Brewing Co. Radical Rye P.A.
Good People Brewing Co. IPA
Good People Brewing Co. Hitchiker
GoodLife Brewing Co. Descender IPA
Goose Island Brewing Co. Goose IPA
Great Divide Brewing Co. Titan
Great Divide Brewing Co. Local Knowledge #1: Hazy IPA
Great North Aleworks Tie Dyed
Great North Aleworks IPA
Great Notion Brewing Fortunate Son
Great Notion Brewing Ripe
Greenpoint Beer & Ale Co. Purgatory
Gunwhale Beer Pau Brah!
Gunwhale Beer Bait Ball
Half Acre Brewing Co. Vallejo
Half Door Brewing Co. House of Hops
Half Door Brewing Co. North East IPA
Harpoon Brewery IPA
Heavy Seas Beer Alpha Effect
Heavy Seas Beer Loose Cannon
Helio Basin Brewing Co. American IPA
Highland Brewing Co. IPA
Highland Park Brewery Good Green
Holy City Brewing Overly Friendly
Hop Butcher for the World Telehopic
Hop Butcher for the World Unwind Your Mind
Huss Brewing Co. Copper State
Icicle Brewing Co. Bootjack IPA
Indeed Brewing Co. Let It Ride
Inland Empire Brewing Co. War Bond
Insight Brewing Dankbot
Insight Brewing Troll Way
Iron Hill Brewery Rising Sun IPA
Island Brewing Co. IPA
Island Brewing Co. Hopliner
J. Wakefield Brewing Hops 4 Teacher
Jack’s Abby Brewing Springdale But I Digress
Jack’s Abby Brewing Springdale Good N’ You?
Kalona Brewing Co. Sucha Much
Karl Strauss Brewing Co. Aurora Hoppyalis
Kings County Brewers Collective Robot Fish
Lakefront Brewery, Inc. IPA
Lamplighter Brewing Co. Birds of a Feather
Land Grant Brew Co. Stiff Arm
Left Coast Brewing Co. Trestles
Left Hand Brewing Co. Introvert
Lift Bridge Brewing Co. Crosscut
Lift Bridge Brewing Co. Hop Dish
Lighthouse Brewing Co. Shipwreck IPA
Liquid Riot Bottling Co. Ka$h Money
Liquid Riot Bottling Co. Head Stash IPA
Listermann Brewing Co. MS. E
Lompoc Brewing The 36th Chamber of IPA
Lompoc Brewing C-Note
Lucky Town Brewing Co. Hop Fiasco
Mad Fox Brewing Co. Orange Whip
Magnify Brewing Maine Event
Maine Beer Co. Woods & Waters
Maplewood Brewery & Distillery Son of Juice
Martin House Brewing Co. Friday IPA
McFate Brewing Co. Fateful IPA
McFate Brewing Co. Fatality IPA
McFate Brewing Co. False Promises
Mendocino Brewing Co. White Hawk
Middle Brown Beer Co. Sells Out
Mike Hess Brewing Solis Occasus
Mike Hess Brewing Hoptoitus
Mikkeller Brewing San Diego Centennial Eyes
Mill Creek Brewing Co. Woodshed
Moab Brewery Johnny’s American IPA
Mockery Brewing Co. Rock the Fuck On Forever
Monday Night Brewing Slap Fight
Montauk Brewing Co. Wave Chaser
Mother Earth Brew Co. Power of Love
Motorworks Brewing Intellectual Property Ale
Narragansett Brewing It’s About Time
Nebraska Brewing Co. IPA
New Anthem Beer Project Neon God
New Anthem Beer Project Lower Haight
New Belgium Brewing Co. Voodoo Ranger Juicy Mandarina
New England Brewing Co. Sea Hag
New England Brewing Co. Fuzzy Baby Ducks
New Holland Brewing Tasmanian Hatter
New Holland Brewing Mad Hatter
Newburgh Brewing Co. MegaBoss IPA
Newburyport Brew Co. Green Head
Ninkasi Brewing Co. Total Domination
Ninkasi Brewing Co. Maiden the Shade
Noble Aleworks Aim for the Fences
Noon Whistle Brewing S-Punk
North Peak Brewing Co. Diabolical
Novo Brazil Brewing Samba Haze
Odd13 Brewing Codename: Superfan
Odd13 Brewing Thirdeen Cent
Odd13 Brewing ubern00b
Oskar Blues Brewery IPA
Pale Fire Brewing Co. Arrant
Parleaux Beer Lab Express Yourself!
Perrin Brewing Co. 98 Problems
pFriem Family Brewers Blonde IPA
Pike’s Peak Brewing Co. Elephant Rock
Port City Brewing Co. Monumental IPA
Potosi Brewing Co. Snake Hollow
Pueblo Vida Brewing Co. Monswoon
RaR Brewing Nanticoke Nectar
Real Ale Brewing Co. Axis IPA
Relic Brewing Co. Leafstorm
Relic Brewing Co. The Flaxen Foal
Resurgence Brewing Co. Citmo
Revival Brewing Co. You Thirsty?
Rhinegeist Brewery Truth
Rhinegeist Brewery Streaker
Rhinegeist Brewery Slow Jam
Rising Tide Brewing Co. Zephyr
River North Brewing IPA
River North Brewing Co. Colorado IPA
Rivertown Brewery & Barrel House Rivertown IPA
Riverwalk Brewing Co. IPA
Riverwalk Brewing Co. Rangelight IPA
Roc Brewing Co. IPA
Rockmill Brewery Farmhouse IPA*
Rogue Ales 7 Hop IPA
Rogue Ales 6 Hop IPA
Russian River Brewing Co. Blind Pig IPA
Saint Archer Brewing Co. IPA
Saint Benjamin Brewing Co. Pasque
Sand Creek Brewing Co. Wild Ride IPA
Sawtooth Brewery Idahome
Scofflaw Brewing Co. Hooligan
Scofflaw Brewing Co. Basement
Short’s Brewing Co. I Got 5 On It
Short’s Brewing Co. Humalupalicious
Silver Moon Brewing IPA 97
Sixpoint Brewery Bengali
Ska Brewing Co. Modus Hoperandi
Sketchbook Brewing Co. Orange Door
Smartmouth Brewing Co. Rule G
Smuttynose Brewing Co. Rhye IPA
Smuttynose Brewing Co. Finest Kind
Snoqualmie Falls Brewing Sunny Si
Snoqualmie Falls Brewing Wildcat IPA
Societe Brewing Co. The Apprentice
Sole Artisan Ales Simcoe Nerd
Sole Artisan Ales Turbo Nerd
Solemn Oath Brewery Snaggle Tooth Bandana
Somerville Brewing Co. Flag Raiser
Sound Brewery Liberty Bay IPA
Spice Trade Brewing Co. Sun Temple
Spice Trade Brewing Co. Himilayan IPA
Spiteful Brewing Co. Spiteful IPA
Squatters Pub Brewery IPA
Station 26 Brewing Co. Hop Sequence No. 5
Station 26 Brewing Co. Single Hop IPA: Simcoe
Station 26 Brewing Co. Juicy Banger
Steady Hand Beer Co. Paradise Waits
Steel String Brewery Big Mon
Stevens Point Brewery IPA
Stillwater Artisanal Super Hop
Stony Creek Brewery Cranky
Stony Creek Brewery Ruffled Feathers
Strike Brewing Co. Two Seam IPA
Sudwerk Brewing Rye of the Lager*
Sudwerk Brewing Cascaderade*
Summit Brewing Co. Saga
Summit Brewing Co. True Brit
Sun King Brewing Co. Alrye’d Alrye’d Alrye’d
SunUp Brewing Co. Trooper IPA
Surly Brewing Co. Furious
Sweetwater Brewing Co. Sweetwater IPA
Tall Tales Brewing Co. Excalibur
Telluride Brewing Tempter IPA
Temperance Beer Co. Escapist
Temperance Beer Co. Gatecrasher
The Pike Brewing Co. Space Needle Golden IPA
The Round Barn Winery, Distillery and Brewery Hop Dealer
The Veil Brewing Co. Brozbrozdayday
The Veil Brewing Co. Master Shredder 3
Third Street Brewhouse Hop Lift
Three Creeks Brewing Co. Crowdpleaser
Three Floyds Brewing LazerSnake
Three Floyds Brewing Necron 99
Three Magnets Brewing Co. Sunstorm
Three Magnets Brewing Co. Rainstorm
Three Notch’d Brewing Co. G IV
Three Notch’d Brewing Co. 40 Mile IPA
Thunderhead Brewing Co. Cropduster
Tighthead Brewing Co. Irie
Tribes Beer Co. Craft’d IPA
Troegs Brewing Co. Perpetual IPA
Uinta Brewing Hop Nosh IPA
Uinta Brewing West Coast-style IPA
Upland Brewing Co. Dragonfly IPA
Upslope Brewing Co. India Pale Ale
Upslope Brewing Co. Experimental India Pale Ale
von Trapp Brewing India Pale Lager*
Voodoo Brewing Co. Guy
Wachusett Brewing Co. Wally
Wachusett Brewing Co. Green Monsta
Wachusett Brewing Co. IPA
Weldwerks Brewing Juicy Bits
Weldwerks Brewing Alpha Bits
Weyerbacher Brewing Co. Last Chance
Weyerbacher Brewing Co. IPA #3
Widmer Brothers Brewing Rainy Days & Mondays
Widmer Brothers Brewing Russell St. IPA
Wooden Robot Brewery What He’s Having
Wooden Robot Brewery Generously Hopped V1
Wynwood Brewing Co. Wynwood IPA
Yards Brewing Co. IPA
Yonkers Brewing Co. Hop Runner
Zipline Brewing Co. India Pale Ale

*We limited the beers included in this tasting strictly to IPAs—no fruit additives and no wild, Belgian or lager yeast strains. We made exceptions for breweries that only brew lagers or ferment with Belgian or wild yeast.

Whew. Now that that’s all out of the way, let’s get to the top 50. The next page has IPAs 50-26; page 3 contains the top 25. Read on, hopheads.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here