10 Sub-Styles of IPA You Can’t Miss
#IPAday comes around but once a year, and many folks regard it with the same affection that they regard so-called Hallmark holidays.
#IPAday offers beer drinkers the chance to get out of their standard rut and try a new beer. Breweries around the U.S. and the globe are choosing to showcase new and different angles on the classic IPA style. Is there that tap handle that has always caused curiosity, but the beer has never wound up in your glass? Today is that day!
In the spirit of #IPAday, here are 10 variations of the style to pour in your trusty IPA glass today (and every day):
American East Coast-Style IPA
These IPAs showcase the citrus and pine flavors that America has grown to love—the flavors that have consistently made IPA the most entered category at the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup. Like Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, or The Princess Bride, these are the go-to classics that yield new twists every time they’re enjoyed.
East Coast-Style IPA Examples
- Bell’s Two Hearted Ale | Bell’s Brewery Inc. | Kalamazoo, MI
- Tropicalia IPA | Creature Comforts Brewing Co. | Athens, GA
- Head Hunter IPA | Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon | North Olmsted, OH
- Elevated IPA | La Cumbre Brewing Co. | Albuquerque, NM
West Coast-Syle IPA
This is the style traditionally suited to California and the West Coast that eschew the traditions of IPAs. Brewers of these hop bombs back down on the malt and go full throttle on the hop flavor. These IPAs are the seductive and outgoing sisters of the traditional IPA.
West Coast-Style IPA Examples
- IPA | AleSmith Brewing Co. | San Diego, CA
- Wanderlust IPA | Breakside Brewery | Portland, OR
- West Coast IPA | Green Flash Brewing Co. | San Diego, CA
- Blind Pig IPA | Russian River Brewing Co. | Santa Rosa, CA
Session IPAs are the current craze–mixing the high-octane flavors of an IPA with the low gravity of a session beer. Imagine a Toyota Camry that blasts off like a full-throttle Ferrari. These IPAs have massive flavor but the alcohol content that allows a drinker to enjoy several and not feel the adverse effects. Sometimes these blur the line between pale ale and IPA, but the style is taking hold and looking for new faithful followers.
Session IPA Examples
- Time Bomb Session IPA | 7venth Sun Brewery | Dunedin, FL
- Easy Jack | Firestone Walker Brewing Co. | Paso Robles, CA
- DayTime | Lagunitas Brewing Co. | Petaluma, CA
- Pinner Throwback IPA | Oskar Blues Brewery | Longmont, CO
These IPAs bring together what on the surface may seem like an unlikely combination: fruit and IPA. Depending on the fruit, sometimes the combination can seem natural, like grapefruit and IPA, and other times it can appear forced like strawberry jalapeño. Occasionally these are not every drinker’s favorite, but sometimes the combination ends up being a cult hit. It could be the beer version of Rocky Horror Picture Show or Rocky 5, but no one knows until it winds up in an IPA glass.
Fruit IPA Examples
- Pink-I (raspberry IPA) | Bonfire Brewing | Eagle, CO
- Aprihop | Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales | Milton, DE
- Tree Shaker Peach IPA | Odell Brewing | Fort Collins, CO
Imperial or Double IPA
The big brother of all the previous styles that has been around the block. These brash and braggadocious IPAs have no problem expressing machisimo in the form of lupulin. A double IPA is an IPA that has read the warning signs and has decided to run with scissors, climb to the top rung or pull the tag off the mattress while still in the store. These beers have and ABV from seven percent and up and probably a few tattoos as well.
Imperial IPA Examples
- Pliny the Elder | Russian River Brewing Co. | Santa Rosa, CA
- Resin | Sixpoint Brewery | Brooklyn, NY
- Enjoy By IPA | Stone Brewing Co. | Escondido, CA
- Dreadnaught Imperial IPA | 3 Floyds Brewing Co. | Munster, IN
Wet Hop IPA
For someone who enjoys IPAs, forget Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year is wet hop beer season. Since hops are usually pelletized, a purist would argue that something is lost when hops go from flowers to pellets. Well, purists have been answered: hops are trucked or overnighted from field to brewery and a narrow window of hours exists to get the hops into the beer-making process.
Wet Hopped IPA Examples
- Fresh IPA | Fort George Brewery | Astoria, OR
- So Fresh & So Green, Green | Terrapin Beer Co. | Athens, GA
- Hop Harvest Series | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. | Chico, CA
- Hop Trip IPA | Deschutes Brewery | Bend, OR
In the brewer’s hands, this style can be a marriage made in Valhalla. Like barbecue or chainsaw whittling, different woods can change the finished product in flavor and appearance. Many brewers have tried their hands with an IPA and an unlikely wood and come out with a new favorite beer to show for it.
Wood-Aged IPA Examples
- Barrel Aged IPA | Blacktooth Brewing Co. | Sheridan, WY
- White Oak Blueberry IPA | Cigar City Brewing | Tampa, FL
- Rumble (French and American Oak) | Great Divide Brewing Co. | Denver, CO
- Oak Aged Unearthly IPA | Southern Tier Brewing Co. | Lakewood, NY
Why should IPAs be limited to those showcasing colors in the lower SRM scale? For several years now, the Great American Beer Festival has judged black IPAs, those hoppy dark beers that join stout roastiness with IPA hoppiness like a hero who is both tender and steel-hearted. The spirit of #IPAday is going beyond the comfort zone, trying something new—why not expand horizons with this style-bending Pacific Northwest favorite?
Black IPA Examples
- Back In Black | 21st Amendment Brewery | San Francisco, CA
- Dubhe Imperial Black IPA | Uinta Brewing Co. | Salt Lake City, UT
- Black IPA | Alaskan Brewing Co. | Juneau, AK
- Weez | Maine Beer Co. | Freeport, ME
This one sounds like it would be a barista’s nightmare, but lovers of this style swear that opposites attract. The smelting of coffee and hops is one invention that may seem unusual, but the style is growing in popularity. Many brewers have even teamed up with local artisan coffee roasters to ensure that the coffee chosen is perfect for the brew.
Coffee IPA Examples
- Coffee IPA | Fate Brewing Co. | Boulder, CO
- Hoppucino | Coppertail Brewing Co. | Tampa, FL
- Stone DayMan Coffee IPA | Stone Brewing Co. | Escondido, CA
These are the IPAs that don’t really fit into a specific subcategory categories. These beers showcase ingredients of many and varied origins, and embody the spirit of experimentation that so many craft brewers embrace. Get out there and try something new, especially on #IPA
Eclectic IPA Examples
- Galaxy White IPA | Anchorage Brewing Co. | Anchorage, AK
- Hopped Up Goose Juice Rye IPA | Hoppin’ Frog Brewery | Akron, OH
- El Guapo Agave IPA | O’Connor Brewing Co. | Norfolk, VA
- Tongue Ninja Sour Double IPA | South Street Brewery | Charlottesville, VA
Like the many faces of the beer, the spirit of #IPAday is one with infinite possibilities. At best, it is a day when old friends and new beers meet and memories are made, at worst, well, a beer or two can be crossed off of the “I wonder what that tastes like” list.
With craft brewers all over the world going all out to give patrons a new IPA to test drive, it seems like a good day to get over bitterness and pour something hoppy.