Tap This: Crisp IPA qualities invigorate and relax during summer season
Summer is finally, unofficially, upon us and green has returned to the landscape. It is now a perfect time to examine some green in our beer. No, not the disgusting green food coloring added to beer that some unfortunate souls consume for St. Patrick’s Day. Instead, this green is the wonderful plant known as humulus lupulus or, more commonly known as, hops.
Hops impart the wonderful bitterness and balance that we love in our beers. It is also the highlight within our favorite IPAs that makes for a great way to welcome the palate to warmer weather.
The IPA style has skyrocketed in popularity with nearly every craft brewery in the nation brewing some variation of the style. The style itself has adapted over years to growing interpretations that have sprung up around the nation. So the question is which are the best to enjoy during the summer months?
Here is a short list of delicious IPAs that are the perfect welcome mat for your palate into the summer months:
Lagunitas Brewing Company — Lagunitas IPA: The incredibly smooth and easy drinking characteristics of this beer make it world class. The wonderful citrus hop notes with subtle touches of pine add just the right amount of bitterness. The creamy body, sweet malts, and dry finish make this a beer that you may never want to put down, no matter what season! Keep in mind, though, that this beer has a 6.2% ABV, which can quickly add up for even the most seasoned of beer drinkers.
Ballast Point Brewing Company — Grapefruit Sculpin: Sculpin from Ballast Point has a loyal following unto itself as being a perfect American IPA, so how do you improve on perfection? By adding a hefty dose of grapefruits and making it available in a can, the perfect vessel for any summer time beer. The wonderful addition of grapefruit enhances the natural flavor profile from the hops while still maintaining a solid malt backbone and dry finish. The strong grapefruit presence also makes this a wonderful beer to have while enjoying a Sunday brunch.
Bear Republic Brewing Co. — Racer 5 Indie Pale Ale: Racer 5 has long led the way in the IPA category winning gold at GABF way back in 1999! While the beer certainly has a past that is filled with awards, it still holds up today as one of the best IPAs offered. It boasts a wonderful hop kick up front with citrus and tropical fruits leading the way balanced against a wonderfully sweet malt backbone. This is yet another IPA that can be enjoyed throughout the year, but is especially pleasing in the summer.
Smuttynose Brewing Company — Finest Kind IPA: Let’s be honest, Smuttynose does not get enough respect. The brewery has been solidly brewing beers since 1994 and Finest Kind has been a staple beer for them. This assertive East Coast IPA has strong hop notes of oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and even hints of pineapples settled into a semi-sweet malt bill. Highly drinkable and beyond refreshing, Finest Kind is widely available in both cans and bottles and deserves to be your go-to IPA.
Firestone Walker Brewing Company — Union Jack IPA: Firestone Walker has long been a favorite brewery among craft lovers. The brewery has a slew of world class beers in a variety of styles. Union Jack has also long been a favorite among fans of the brewery. This 7% ABV IPA is a danger beer because it drinks like much lighter beers with its bright hop qualities and lightly sweet-malt bill. One sip and this can will become your new favorite IPA.
Dogfish Head Brewery — 60 Minute IPA: This is almost a beer that needs no discussion. 60 Minute IPA has long been established as the quintessential East Coast IPA and helped push the IPA style into the mass market. Despite the long lineage, it is still a great go-to beer and still continues to outrank many other IPAs that have come to market since its initial release. The balance within the beer is what makes it truly great, with a wonderful dosing of hops that is strong yet never overly bitter. Easy drinking, smooth, refreshing, and just all around delicious, this is a must-try beer for all!
IPAs are truly the perfect style of beer for summer. The crisp qualities both invigorate and relax you while soaking up the summer sun. Stock up on these and many other IPAs this summer and enjoy it all before the summer disappears too quickly.
Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon on Sundays on WILK 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.