It’s safe to say that no beer style has defined the American craft beer revolution as assertively as the India Pale Ale. The history of the style and its development is the U.S. is well-worth investigating for those who want to explore it—from the use of hops as preservatives to help beers keep on the long journey from Britain to the colonies many centuries ago (hence the name), to pioneering American experiments like Vinnie Cilurzo’s Blind Pig IPA and, later, the use of continuous hopping by Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione. It’s modern development has been all about attitude: When the stateside microbrew scene first started to get attention, hoppy beers were a bold and assertive middle finger to the status quo, separating craft beer from the light lagers that dominated the market and giving new brewers a much needed point of view.
Today, the all-American hop bomb is almost a cliche—every new brewery that hits the market feels compelled to make an IPA, and the beer-nerd cry for more, more, more when it comes to hops has led to some extreme (and not always palatable) creations. As one industry pro told us recently, “It’s an IPA world right now, and we’re just living in it”—and he’s right.
But let’s not confuse ubiquity for dullness. IPA remains the most competitive, diverse, and exciting style in beer, not just in the U.S., but in countries around the world that have caught (or reclaimed) the hops bug. Now, you just have to work harder than ever to figure out which pours are really worthy of your beer money. With that in mind, we reached out to our beer panel again—including NYC-based beer writers, brewers, bars owners, and educators—and asked them recommend they IPAs they love personally, and think every drinker should try before they die. Here’s the crew:
- Mike Lovullo, specialty brands manager for Union Beer Distributors
- Jimmy Carbone, owner of Jimmy’s No. 43; host of Beer Sessions Radio; founder of the Good Beer Seal
- Julian Kurland, Beer Director, The Cannibal Beer & Butcher
- Samuel Merritt, founder of Civilization of Beer
- Greg Doroski, brewer at Greenport Harbor Brewing Co.
- Mary Izett, beer journalist and host of Fuhmentaboudit!
- Anthony Finley, beer server at Proletariat
- John Holl, beer journalist and author of The American Craft Beer Cookbook
- Chris Schonberger, editor-in-chief of First We Feast
Any favorites you’d add to the list? Let us know in the comments.
Let the hop bombing commence…