Whether you’re a certified haze bro or a hop-hesitant drinker, it’s hard to deny that this past year once again saw a dizzying array of IPAs. What was impressive in 2018 was how the IPA category continued to push its borders. From double- to triple-hopped, West Coast to New England style, hazy to clear, the sheer volume of releases proves that the IPA will not be tied down.
What’s exciting about all this is the glut of excellence that hit both the shelves and taprooms over the course of the past year. Sure, there may have been a few duds along the way—a few cloudy, poorly defined brews and one-note wonders. Nonetheless, this past year was a particularly strong showing and there were plenty of reasons for IPA-lovers to celebrate. These are some of the best ones we drank this year.
“Wolf Pup may be my new go to session IPA,” writes Tucker Anders, who notes that this balanced, full-bodied number with an ABV of 4.5% has a “bright nose with pops of lemon, orange and mango playing over some grassy qualities.”
“Bright citrus flavors of grapefruit, lemon and orange open this beer” which is assertive “with well-defined, robust flavors from start to finish,” says Jared Paventi.
“Tropical and citrus fruit-forward hops, plus double dry hopping with minimal malt complexity, and light drying yeast equals a stunning IPA,” writes Tucker Anders of this beer that transcends brewing trends.
“Huge notes of grapefruit and pine lead the way” in this beer that “blends the best of East and West Coast IPA philosophies,” says Tucker Anders. The result is “the kind of beer that deserves long lines at every release but luckily doesn’t generate them.”
This flawlessly balanced IPA “won’t punch you in the mouth with a hop bomb” and finishes with “just the right amount of juiciness,” says Chris Woodard, who proclaims Dinner the “greatest meal on Earth.”
An instant cult classic powered by Citra hops, King Sue is “a big, fresh pillow of succulence,” says Jerard Fagerberg, who advises drinkers to “press your forehead to the floor and thank the sky sovereigns that this beer exists.”
“Vermont-based Lawson’s Finest Liquids is infamous in the beer world for its acclaimed IPA,” Tucker Anders writes. He’s talking about Sip of Sunshine, a golden-orange IPA that lives up to its name with “sweetness that is both floral and tropical, like honeysuckle and warm pineapple.” In other words, it’s the perfect IPA.
Illustration by Remo Remoquillo