IPA Day is coming up this Thursday, but instead of tipping back one traditional hoppy pint and calling it a day, use this “holiday” to explore all of the style’s variations. Better yet, invite your friends over and make it a party (the day falls on Thirsty Thursday, after all). From your standard citrusy, piney sippers to IPAs of all colors and sizes, here are all the styles you need to host the most epic IPA Day party ever.
Style: American IPA
What it is: The ubiquitous IPA style that got you hooked on hops. These guys often burst with ultra-citrusy, piney hop notes, have a bready malt backbone and swift, prickly bitter finish.
Beers to check out: Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale, Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA, Sixpoint Bengali Tiger
Style: English IPA
What it is: It’s the original IPA, so to speak. English versions are more balanced than their American counterparts, and blend biscuity, toffee-sweet malts with floral, earthy and grassy hop notes.
Beers to check out: Brooklyn East India Pale Ale, Goose Island India Pale Ale, Left Hand 400 Pound Monkey IPA
Style: American IPA (non-traditional)
What it is: New varieties of hops are redefining what an American IPA tastes like. Instead of using citrusy, piney varieties like Cascade, Centennial and Columbus, brewers are sourcing the likes of Mosaic, Nelson Sauvin, El Dorado and Azacca hops for their often tropical, berrylike flavors.
Beers to check out: Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA, Alaskan Icy Bay IPA
Style: Imperial IPA
What it is: An imperial IPA on steroids. These hop bombs boast bigger hop flavor, bitterness, booze and malts, plus they often incorporate a wide range of hops, from Old World to classic American to brand new varieties.
Beers to check out: New Belgium Rampant, Green Flash West Coast IPA, Victory Hop Ranch Imperial IPA
Style: Session IPA
What it is: A smaller version of an IPA, this style typically clocks in sub-5%-ABV, but maintains the hop flavor, aroma and (low end) bitterness of its bigger brother.
Beers to check out: Flying Dog Easy IPA, Lagunitas Day Time, Smuttynose Bouncy House
Style: Single Hop IPA
What it is: An IPA—usually in American IPA form—that features only one variety of hop, giving you a clear sense of the particular flavors that variety contributes.
Beers to check out: Hermitage Mosaic IPA, Alpine Nelson IPA, Founders Centennial IPA
Style: Rye IPA
What it is: These IPAs are brewed with added rye, a specialty malt that can lend a touch of dark bread and subtle, sharp spice to the swallow.
Beers to check out: Laughing Dog Rocket Dog IPA, Great Lakes Rye of the Tiger, Harpoon Rich & Dan’s Rye IPA
Style: Black IPA
What it is: Dark, brooding IPAs brewed with the kinds of malt you’ll find in stouts, porters and brown ales. The result blends flavors of roasted malts, chocolate and coffee with the citrusy, dank hop notes of an IPA.
Beers to check out: Firestone Walker Wookey Jack, Odell Mountain Standard, Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA
Style: Red IPA
What it is: These IPAs typically combine the toasted, caramel malt flavors of an American amber—sometimes an imperial amber—with the big hop character of an American IPA. You might also know them by names like hoppy amber, red ale and imperial red ale.
Beers to check out: Ninkasi Believer, Bridgeport Kingpin, Martin House The Imperial Texan
Style: White IPA
What it is: A rather vague term, the white IPA category includes both hoppy wheat beers and hoppy twists on witbiers.
Beers to check out: Saranac White IPA, Wasatch GhostRider White IPA, Boulevard 80-Acre
Style: Belgian IPA
What it is: Swap out the traditional yeast of an American IPA with fruity, spicy Belgian yeast strains and you’ve got a Belgian IPA (bonus if you include Belgian specialty malts). The fruity yeast notes often accentuate citrusy hops, while the spicier flavors sharpen the beer’s bitterness.
Beers to check out: Knee Deep Belgo Hoptologist, Green Flash Le Freak, Clown Shoes Tramp Stamp
Style: Brett IPA
What it is: This style incorporates trendy Brettanomyces yeast in the recipe (either 100-percent, or in addition to regular ale yeast), which can lend flavors that range from funk to barnyard to lemon to pineapple, as well as a slight acidic bite in the swallow.
Beers to check out: Wild Beer Evolver IPA, Anchorage Galaxy
Style: Fruit IPA
What it is: Pretty simple in concept, these IPAs were conditioned with real fruit additions—anything from orange peel to mango—in order to accentuate the fruity, citrusy character of American hops.
Beers to check out: Dogfish Head Aprihop (apricots), Boxcar Mango Ginger India Pale Ale (mango, ginger), Samuel Adams Whitewater IPA (apricots)
What it is: It’s just like a fruit IPA, except now we’re dealing with additions of spices, herbs or even vegetables. Celery IPA anyone?
Beers to check out: Elysian Avatar Jasmine IPA, Night Shift JoJo (hibiscus)
Style: Wood-Aged IPA
What it is: Take an American IPA or imperial IPA, then let it rest for a time in a barrel—or add wood staves or spirals while its fermenting—and you’ve got a wood-aged IPA, which takes on the oaky, vanilla and tannic notes of the barrel, and sometimes the spirits or wine that the barrel once housed.
Beers to check out: 21st Amendment Hop Crisis, Great Divide Rumble, Cigar City Jai Alai White Oak
Style: India Pale Lagers
What it is: Also known as IPLs, these lagers embody the spirit of an IPA with similar bold hop character and a crisp, bitter finish—the only major difference is the use of lager yeast instead of ale yeast.
Beers to check out: Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union, Wolverine State Gulo Gulo IPA, Ballast Point Fathom IPL
Or, you could just buy a bunch of this “sheep shit IPA” and celebrate that way.