Tomorrow (August 7) is National IPA Day, when beer drinkers across the country unite to imbibe the country’s favorite beer style. Undoubtedly the most popular style of craft beer in the United States, IPA was the most entered style at this year’s World Beer Cup (with 224 entries). It’s tough to find a craft brewery tasting room that doesn’t have a fresh IPA on tap.
Not only do Americans have an affinity for hops, they are craving, if not demanding, hoppier and hoppier craft beers. Jeff Erway of New Mexico’s La Cumbre Brewing Co. remembers that when he first started brewing his Elevated IPA, a 7.2 percent ABV IPA with 100 IBUs, in 2008, it was the hoppiest beer that anyone who tried it had ever had. Fast forward a few more years, he says, and it’s now often described as “balanced.”
In a lot of cases, what once qualified as an IPA has been shifted over to the American pale ale designation. That was the case at Boulder’s Twisted Pine Brewery earlier this year when the brewery’s flagship IPA, the infamous Hoppy Boy, moved over to the American pale ale category to make room for a brand new IPA, the Hop Zealot, that has twenty more IBUs.
"While Hoppy Boy might have been a perfect example of the American IPA style fifteen years ago,” says Twisted Pine Sales and Marketing Coordinator Justin Tilotta, “palates and style expectations have evolved to where fans expect beers of that category to have a less prominent malt backbone and lean toward bitterness a bit more.”
The Hop Zealot is 6.7 percent ABV (as compared to the Hoppy Boy’s 5.7 percent) and brewed with Columbus, Amarillo, and Simcoe hops that pack a juicy, floral hop punch. As Tilotta explains, the malt build of this beer is a lighter one, with 95 percent 2-row malt and 5 percent C30 crystal malt. It’s a clean, refreshing IPA that finishes dry. “Hop Zealot opened the door for us to create a true treat for the hopheads out there,” says Tilotta.
Those hopheads who are looking for a challenge should also seek out the Gluttony Triple IPA from Alaska’s Midnight Sun Brewing Company. “Gluttony is the overpowering desire to consume much more than one requires,” says this beer’s description. The piney, citrusy IPA has 200 IBUs, with 10.5 percent ABV to boot. It goes without saying that Gluttony is a serious commitment.
What’s the hoppiest IPA you’ve ever had or made? Tweet us a 140-character description to @CraftBeerBrew with the hashtag #IPADay.