The Best IPAs of 2020

December 28, 2020

By October Staff, December 28, 2020

When it comes to IPAs brewers’ imaginations and drinkers’ appetites know no bounds. This year brought us the rise of the sour IPA, countless new additions to the hazy arsenal, and even one that looks like an empty toilet paper roll. As long as said brewers keep rolling out ultra fresh, hop-filled offerings, we’ll keep tasting them.

While the world was a different place when we started our best IPA list in the spring, we’ve kept on tasting even more amazing IPAs of every stripe: juicy, hazy, fruit-infused, and more. What else are we going to do with all this free time? (We tasted dozens of them last year, too. Check out our list of the best IPAs of 2019 here.) While we can’t predict what will happen tomorrow, we’re pretty sure there will be even more delicious brews on the horizon.

Here is our ranking of the best IPAs of 2020.

Lawson's Finest Liquids’ Little Sip

There’s a downside to being the brewer responsible for one of the most beloved IPAs in the country: high expectations. So, it was with much surprise and delight that Tucker Anders declared that Lawson's Finest Liquids’ newest IPA offering—a lower ABV version of its predecessor—”Little Sip does more than live up to the Sip of Sunshine name, it shows the Vermont brewer deserves every bit of the acclaim it has earned.”

Wiley Roots' Blueberry Maple County Fair Cobbler

Yes, this is a dry-hopped, milkshake sour IPA with pureed blueberry, maple syrup, graham cracker, cinnamon, vanilla, and milk sugar. As Tucker Anders notes, "It makes zero sense, but it works almost perfectly."

Tree House’s Juice Machine

Tree House Brewing Company knows how to make an IPA. Its Julius is one of the few beers to earn a perfect score by our reviewers, and while Juice Machine isn’t quite perfect, it’s damn close. “As they say on the internet, ‘the hype is real’ when it comes to Juice Machine,” Jay C. Williams says. “With its unabashed fruitiness and delicate mouthfeel, it’s easy to see why this semi-elusive DIPA is highly coveted.”

Humble Forager’s Elevated Perspective

“Forager has always been regarded for its New England-style IPAs, but this edition of Elevated Perspective outdoes almost all of them,” writes Jerard Fagerberg of this daring double dry-hopped imperial oat IPA. “Remarkably soft and juicy, it spills aromas of bergamot and candied apricot. The softness is an effect of the oat cream in the malt bill—a difficult flourish to accomplish in the brewhouse, but one that pays off immediately.”

Other Half's All Together IPA

Brewed to benefit hospitality workers who were laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, "All Together IPA stands on its own as a nearly flawless example of a hazy IPA gone right," writes Tucker Anders. "It’s super bright and tropical yet balanced with just enough prickly, herbaceous hoppiness to keep it from skewing too sweet. Simply put, this is exactly the kind of beer you’d expect from one of the best brewers in the game."

New England Brewing Company’s Fuzzy Baby Ducks

It might sound silly, but these ducks don’t mess around. “Fuzzy Baby Ducks is a seriously great NEIPA with a very unserious name,” writes Jay C. Williams. “You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t hunt down this classic.”

Abomination's Wandering Into the Fog Mosaic

Pennsylvania-based Abomination Brewing “has ambled from brewery to brewery, tinkering with the many versions of Wandering into the Fog,” writes Jerard Fagerberg, He notes that with the Mosaic variant of this double New England IPA, “ it may have stumbled close to perfection.”

Von Ebert’s Never Tell

Named after the Violent Femmes song of the same name, Never Tell is an imperial version of Von Ebert’s Volatile Substance. “At 102 IBU, Never Tell is not trying to hide its hoppiness,” writes Jerard Fagerber. “You can taste every digit of that IBU. It makes you move slowly, drinking in the thick, resinous beer like it’s a broth made of hops and malt. It transforms your breath into a Douglas Fir air freshener.” This is a very good thing.

O’so's Hop Debacle

“This beer calls for a striped straw, Tropicana-style,” writes Jerard Fagerberg of this juicy IPA from Wisoncon’s O’so Brewing Company. “What a full-frontal explosion of fruit. The combination of hops used to double dry hop Hop Debacle is more or less foolproof, but it is rarely sensational. Here it feels like a genius stroke, a torrent of juice unleashed on your eager palate.”

Half Acre's Double Daisy Cutter

Half Acre’s imperialized version of its well-regarded Daisy Cutter kicks everything up a notch, says Tucker Anders. “Fittingly, Double Daisy Cutter is like a turned-up version of the original. It’s boozier, thicker, and fuller, ratcheting up the familiar flavors of its predecessor at a much higher volume, and there is nothing at all wrong with that.”

Omnipollo’s Lustro

“It’s really hard to do something different in the world of hazy IPAs these days,” Tucker Anders says, which might be why Omnipollo wanted to flip the switch with its New England and West Coast hybrid IPA Lustro.

Abnormal’s Hazy Dreams

“Hazy Dreams honestly smells like a glass of peach-mango juice,” writes Tucker Anders of this hazy IPA that refuses to veer into turbid hop sludge territory. “The taste is somehow even more juicy. Hazy Dreams is sweet and bright with tons of stone fruit flavors like peach and mango to go along with more tropical pineapple. There is just enough pithy bitterness to clean up the sweetness and let the juicy, bright fruit shine. Hazy Dreams is light and slick, and it goes down so smoothly that it’s easy to finish the can without fully appreciating all it has to offer.”

Equilibrium’s Energy Equals

The proverbial “future” may not have delivered on all of its promises like hoverboards and flying cars, “there have been obviously big achievements,” according to Jay C. Williams. One of those achievements comes from Middletown, New York’s Equilibrium Brewery. Founded by two MIT grads, the brewery has cracked the code when it comes to delivering an IPA with Energy Equals, a “medium body, fruit-forwardness, and low bitterness.”

Short Throw’s Code of the Streets

“Taste is the downfall of many IPAs—muddied with over-the-top hop additions and lacking the complexity and bitterness that more traditional hopping techniques can bring,” writes Tucker Anders. That’s not the case with Short Throw’s Code of the Streets, a lucious, juicy IPA that bursts with pineapple and mango aromas.

American Solera’s Terpy Galaxy

Any IPA fan can tell you that a lot of them tend to taste a little same-y—but American Solera, better known for its sours, doesn’t fall into that trap with Terpy Galaxy. As Jay C. Williams notes, “It’s an easy drinker that delicately juggles between tropical flavors and citrus bitterness.”

Offshoot’s Retreat

Offshoot Beer Co. puts the same attention to detail and respect into their IPAs as its sister brewery, “With Offshoot, The Bruery stepped out of its wheelhouse in a big way, but its hazy double IPA Retreat shows that the expertise translates,” Tucker Anders says. “Sometimes good brewers just make good beer, regardless of the style.”

Talea’s Mangotango

In case you missed the hottest IPA trend of the summer, let Talea introduce you to its sour IPA Mangotango. As Tucker Anders says, “There is no mistaking Mangotango for anything other than a sour, fruit-forward brew” and “despite the mouth-puckering tartness, Mangotango goes down all too smooth, leaving me wanting more after each sip.”

Phase Three’s Crème

Oats and lactose in your IPA? It can be a very good thing indeed, as Phase Three’s Citra edition of its Crème series proves. Jay C. Williams notes: ”The oats definitely give it a smoother mouthfeel than your standard NEIPA. There’s a steady pithy bitterness that persists through the first sip before giving way to a slightly sweet, creamy finish that tastes like lemon curd.”

WeldWerks' Juicy Bits

If you’re looking for a Colorado twist on a New England IPA, look no further than WeldWerks: “WeldWerks builds on an impressive appearance and powerful aroma to create a memorable IPA in a crowded field, pulling some of the best attributes of hazy IPAs and marrying them with the best of Denver IPAs.”

Nod Hill's Mood for a Day

Some IPAs want to bomb your taste buds with sweetness or hops, but not Mood for a Day. Instead, this solid IPA from Nod Hill is just the thing you want to drink all damn day. Writes Jay C. Williams, “While some beers feel like great rewards for tasks like cleaning the bathroom or mowing the lawn, Mood for a Day doesn’t feel like a post-chore beer.” 

Hi-Wire's Hi-Pitch Mosaic IPA

“The best IPAs balance bitter, fruity, and bright hoppiness with sweet, crisp, and clean maltiness. Hi-Wire’s flagship IPA hits the mark across the board,” writes Tucker Anders. “Hi-Pitch Mosaic makes the most of its namesake hop, with a bold aroma of resinous pine, bright berries, tangerine, and some melon.”

Elysian’s Dayglow

“Dayglow is a truly fun ride,” Jerard Fagerberg says of Elysian’s newest year-round IPA. That ride includes a crescendo of tropical fruit flavors matched with a heavy dose of hops. “Each sip is like unwrapping a Starburst.”

Modern Times’ Critical Band

San Diego’s Modern Times is no stranger to stellar IPAs, and Critical Band is no exception. The tropical IPA is big on melon, grapefruit, and papaya, all balanced with just the right amount of hops. “Modern Times made a beer that isn’t crisp or juicy—it’s downright creamy,” writes Nathan Matisse. “This amount of umami doesn’t typically show up outside of indulgent porters and stouts, but it works here given Critical Band’s flavors are in such equilibrium.”

Great Lakes’ Hazecraft

Forget the NEIPAs of yore—this Midwestern IPA will win you over with its “sweetly resinous flavor” that’s chock full of stone fruit and berries, but it ain’t a juice bomb. “It smells like an IPA for sure,” writes Tucker Anders, “but more of the dank, non-hazy variety with any fruity notes leaning more towards berry than tropical.”

Odd 13’s Intergalactic Juice Hunter

“Intergalactic Juice Hunter shows the power of Galaxy hops in the right hands,” writes Tucker Anders of this juicy release from Odd 13. “Huge notes of juicy fruit from across the spectrum fill the room as soon as the can is cracked. My favorite quality of the Galaxy hop is the massive punch of passion fruit and peach it can deliver, and Intergalactic Juice Hunter has both in spades.”

New Belgium’s Voodoo Ranger 1985 IPA

More than just a pretty face, New Belgium’s newest take on its flagship IPA, Voodoo Ranger, “is a welcome tweak on a craft beer staple that easily earns a spot in my summer rotation,” according to Tucker Anders. The throwback can, complete with denim, fanny packs, and neon accents, is just a bonus.

Fat Orange Cat x Nightmare Brewing’s Feed Me a Stray Cat

With its not-so-subtle nod to American Psycho, this collaboration brew from Fat Orange Cat and Nightmare Brewing is hard to ignore. “Since it’s a triple IPA, the 10% ABV comes as no surprise,” writes Jay C. Williams. “Feed Me a Stray Cat is a bold and balanced triple IPA. It’s a nice beer, but I don’t recommend drinking more than one, lest you might start taking bad advice from ATMs.”

Bell’s' Light Hearted Ale

A low-cal IPA that gets high marks in just about every respect? Yes, it’s possible. “Say hello to your new everyday beer,” proclaims Jerard Fagerberg. “Light Hearted is not Two Hearted. Nor is it the sensational Double Two Hearted. It doesn’t aspire to be. It’s a backyard sipper that comes in 12-packs for a reason.”

ZX Ventures, a division within AB InBev, is an investor in October
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