Photo: GummyBone [Getty Images]
When many people envision a craft beer, the first beer they usually think of is the IPA. The IPA is a style that can be found on pretty much every tap list from Tampa to Tacoma. Its popularity hasn’t seemed to wane even with the recent rise in popularity of simpler lagers and sour beers. But, this floral, sometimes hoppy brew has been around since way before the craft brewing boom and doesn’t appear to be disappearing any time soon.
The IPA, also known as the India Pale Ale, is so good that it deserves its own day. Lucky for you, today is that day. That’s because the first Thursday in August (Today!) is National IPA Day. To celebrate the holiday accordingly, we asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us their favorite IPAs. You can check out all of their responses below.
“Snaggletooth Bandana by Solemn Oath. I love an IPA that can offer a punch of hops and balanced bitterness, while evoking freshness and complexity–this one hits all the marks for me.”- David Mor, Beverage Manager at Cindy’s
“My favorite IPA is Resin from Sixpoint Brewery in New York. Resin is a very hop forward IPA but it is balanced and drinks super clean. Its flavor is pretty classic from the Centennial and Chinook hops, but the use of multiple varieties for the aromatic complement the piney, resinous flavor,” – Kellen Hamrah, general manager, Piattello Italian Kitchen in Fort Worth, Texas
“From someone who doesn’t normally reach for IPAs, I really enjoy the Revolution Anti-Hero IPA. Its light, and crisp.”-Thurman Pierce, Bartender at JW Marriott Chicago
“My favorite IPA is 3 Floyds Zombie Dust. I had the pleasure of securing a 6-pack of this limited release cult classic, heavily hopped IPA while living in Chicago. It lived up to the hype,” – Steve Minor, beverage director at DRIFT at 1 Hotel South Beach in Miami
“My favorite IPA would have to be Heady Topper, a Double IPA by The Alchemist in Stowe, Vermont. It’s unfiltered and is 8% ABV, with hints of citrus. Living in Vermont, I was drinking that beer when I turned 21, so it hits home for me.” – Nathanial Cayer, Executive Chef at I|O Godfrey in Chicago
“My favorite IPA is a tough question to answer, with the microbrew scene currently booming and IPA among the top made in the US. I have a few favorites currently, but the list is definitely growing. Pipeworks Ninja Vs Unicorn is one of the coolest cans and a really unique flavor (the only issue is finding it outside of Chicago, but if you can, DO IT).” – BC Hoffman, bartender at Sassafras in Hollywood, California.
“My favorite IPA is Furious from Surly, its a little malty for the hottest weather but so well balanced. It has both the dank earthiness and the bright citrus notes of hops.”- Kyle Davidson, beverage director at Elske Restaurant in Chicago
“Breckenridge Brewery’s Lucky U IPA is my favorite, the locally brewed craft beer is balanced with just the right amount of hops and bitterness offering a smooth and refreshing finish for an IPA.” – Brad Manske, beverage director at Viewhouse in Denver
“My favorite IPA is the ‘Hop’lin’ IPA from Southbound Brewing here in Savannah. The beer itself is perfectly balanced, intensely piney and citrusy with a hint of caramel. It was the first IPA I ever tried and it’s still my preferred because each time I taste it evokes the same “zing” that had me in awe years ago.” – Nick Gulizia, bar manager at The Emporium Kitchen & Wine Market in Savannah, Georgia
“My favorite type of IPA would have to be a sour varietal. With summer in full swing, bright tart notes are a must when I’m picking a beer. The last sour that I had that I was really fond of was the Sour IPA, brewed by Almanac Beer Co. It’s a combination of West Coast IPA style beer, and a barrel aged sour. I prefer a pretty complex beer and this one has a lot of character. The “sour” wakes up your mouth, while the IPA slightly kicks you in it, all the while the barrel aging smooths it out,” – Dorothy Rondomanski, lead bartender at Assembly in Philadelphia
“My favorite IPA is Sierra Nevada Torpedo. It’s Big, Bold and Boozy but still comes across as refreshing. A true American classic IPA,” – Beau Kelly-Fontano, bar manager at Acadia in Chicago
“My favorite IPA has always been the one produced by Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, WI. It was the first IPA I thought really embodies the original flavors before the hops arms race of the Pacific Northwest took IPA in a million directions. In my opinion, it is varietally correct and a good benchmark for what an IPA should taste like,” – Nic Nye, mixologist at Juniper Spirits & Oysters in Chicago
“My favorite IPA is Racer 5 from Bear Brewing Company in Healdsburg, California. Every bartender knows – the first good beer you try growing up becomes the best to you,” – Craig Welsh, head bartender at Boulud Sud in Miami
“To my taste, Ballast Point Brewing Co.’s Sculpin IPA is the iconic American West Coast version of IPA, as opposed to the ‘Ye Olde English’ classics. Sculpin has that big, earthy, hoppy, citrus blast of flavor that sets the standard,” – Jim Lunchick, head bartender at Merrian’s Waimea in Hawaii
“My favorite IPA is Tarantula Hawk by Wild Acre Brewing Co. This IPA is an American/Red Ale brewed in my hometown of Fort Worth, Texas. With nice sweet hops and light molasses tones, this IPA is beautiful in color and impressive on the pallet,” – Sky Prindle Zeller, mixologist at Waters Restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas
“If I’m drinking an IPA it’s a Founders All Day IPA – we use this in the Stay Cold bourbon and beer frozen slush cocktail at Stay Gold,” – Kacie Lambert, head bartender at Stay Gold in New York City