IPA Day has returned – which type of IPA drinker are you?

A Happy Hoppyday – National IPA Day

National IPA Day has returned! While American IPAs are an undoubtedly classic style, the drinking public’s tastes have changed, so the style continues to evolve. Whether its hazy and juicy IPAS, new and experimental hop styles and formats or simply a new adjunct added to these hoppy beers, remember that this day is all about the exploration of the style that keeps moving craft beer forward.

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

 

 

For the person who has tried everything: IPA Day is a great day to remember the classic beers that turned heads in the first place. Remember that Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA (9.0% ABV – technically an Imperial IPA) and 60 Minute IPA (6.0% ABV were innovations that made the bitterness of IPAs palatable to those casual drinkers who had not yet experienced craft beer. Owner Sam Calagione’s experimentation with continually hopping a beer (hence the numbers) led him to these IPAs that express the citrusy and pungent aromas without the bitter bite that many other IPAs had at the time.

Coppertail Free Dive Can

 

 

 

 

For the person who doesn’t like IPAs: While not everyone loves IPAs, but hopefully the spirit of experimentation is strong on this hoppy holiday. In that case, the use of lighter malts, its grapefruit character, and subtle dryness of Coppertail Brewing’s Free Dive IPA (5.9% ABV) can appeal to even the most ardent anti-IPA drinker. If more convincing is needed, try Free Dive with spicy shrimp, Indian curry, or ceviche.

Swamp Head Big Nose Can

 

 

 

For the die-hard IPA fan: For the drinker that’s had them all, and has a locked-in favorite, it’s rewarding to remember that even the “hops in my veins” drinker started somewhere. In this case, enjoying the strong caramel malt presences and hop-forward pine and citrus of Swamp Head Brewery’s Big Nose IPA (7.3% ABV) can bring back memories of a time when a favorite local IPA just hit the spot. Gainesville’s first craft brewery’s Big Nose IPA still holds up – strong hoppy aroma that follows through into the finish along with plenty of malty sweetness to balance the bitterness.

Lagunitas IPNA Bottle

 

 

 

For the person who loves hops not alcohol: For those who want the hoppiness of an IPA but for one reason or another choose not to drink the alcohol, a beer like Lagunitas’s IPNA (non-alcoholic) illustrates the great taste of a classic IPA with none of the alcohol. While the beer has 0% alcohol by volume, it maintains both the malt and the hops of a traditional IPA.

 

Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing IPA

 

 

For the person wondering about hazy IPAs: Some beer fans don’t like the bitterness present in traditional IPAs and pass up the entire category. That can be a mistake as hazy IPAs are here to offer something different. While many of these beers are unfiltered, hence the “hazy” moniker, they are also made differently than traditional IPAs and tend to express the fruity character of hoppy beer without all of the customary bitterness. Sierra Nevada Brewing’s Hazy Little Thing IPA (6.7% ABV) is just such a beer – the brewery brags that they “package Hazy Little Thing in all its raw glory: unfiltered, unprocessed, straight from the tanks and into the can.”

 

Whatever your hoppy persuasion or whichever category you fall into on IPA Day, it’s a great day to try something new and discover your next favorite beer. Click over to our Beer Finder page and discover where these beers are available near you.

Fall is the best time for hoppy beers

The Hoppiest of times is here!

October is the hoppiest month of the year – the month to celebrate for everyone who enjoys pale ales, IPAs, double IPAs, and any beer that shares in the glory of hops.

Why is October a month for hoppy beer?

Late September/ early October is hop harvest in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. These three Pacific Northwest states are the heaviest hop-producing states in the United States. Hop farmers in these states are forecast to produce 106 million pounds of hops in 2019 – over 75% of the American hop yield. Hops are only harvested in these states once each year, and the crop is dried, pelletized, and processed to be usable for the rest of the year.

October is when the hops are the freshest and at their peak.  Each October, a unique style of IPA becomes possible, and several brewers take advantage of hop harvest to make a wet-hopped IPA.

A bunch of green hops on a tree

Wet-hopped IPAs are unique and made during hop harvest because timing is crucial.  In order to be considered a “wet-hopped” IPA, hops are added to boiling wort within 24 hours of being picked.  This is not an easy feat for a brewery down the road from a hop farm, let alone one across the country.  Wet-hopped beers are also challenging to put through a typical brewing system.  Since they have not been dried or pelletized, it is common for hop particulate material to separate from the plant during the brewing process, requiring extended cleaning times and special procedures while brewing.

Why go through all of the trouble, then?  Well, the resulting beer is unlike any other beer experience available – hoppy or otherwise. The amount of oil and hop essence released when brewing with fresh hops is different than the same beer brewed with traditionally packaged hops.

In other words, for many breweries, wet-hopped beers are labors of love.

Check out these labors of love, and experience for yourself the joys of a hoppy October.

Wet-hopped beers:

Lagunitas Born Yesterday Wet Hop Pale Ale

 

 

Lagunitas Born Yesterday (7.2% ABV) – The brewers at Lagunitas are located in Petaluma, California – just down the highway from hop country. Born Yesterday is Lagunitas’s version of a pale ale, but instead of traditional hops, they add “wet, lupulin-drenched, un-kilned, whole-cone, fresh-picked-and-rushed-straight-from-Yakima hops for your immaculate reception. This Un-Freakin-Filtered, wetter-than-wet beer has 11lbs-per-barrel of Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic and Indigenous Catawampus.”

 

 

 

 

 

Swamp Head Brewery Gainesville Green LabelSwamp Head Brewery Gainesville Green (7.0% ABV) – For over five years now, Gainesville’s Swamp Head Brewery has made this fresh-hop IPA with a different strain of hops each year. No one outside of the brewery knows what version of this beer will appear each year – what strain of hops? Which state will the hops originate? Will the beer be a traditional IPA or a hazy IPA?  While the brewery seems to savor the suspense, the beer never disappoints.

 

2019 Terrapin Beer So Fresh and So Green Green Wet Hop IPA

 

 

 

Terrapin Beer Company So Fresh and So Green Green (5.2% ABV) – Athens, Georgia’s Terrapin Beer Company has been making this wet-hopped beer as an IPA for ten years now. Like Swamp Head, Terrapin has been using a different hop(s) each year. 2019 is no different – the brewery announced that So Fresh will be made this year using Zuper Saazer hops from Michigan. Give it a try and see what flavors these new hops give the beer.

 

 

 

 

Fresh-hopped beer
After wet-hopped beer, another type of beer that expresses the freshness of newly picked hops is a fresh-hopped beer (usually an IPA).  Fresh-hopped beer is a beer (almost always an IPA) that is brewed only with hops that have been picked in the October harvest.  While the hops have been kilned, dried, and pelletized, being used quickly after picking ensures that the beer gives off aromas and flavors of the hoppiest time of the year.

 

 

 

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (6.8% ABV) – Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale has been one of the few American IPAs released for the holidays ever since 1981.  While many brewers release stouts and spiced beers, Sierra Nevada takes the hops from the October harvest and uses them while they’re at their peak freshness.  Celebration Ale’s holiday release is the gift that hoppy beer enthusiasts want (and get) year after year.

 

 

 

 

Intense beer
When talking about hoppy beer, no discussion is complete without mention of Dogfish Head’s IPAs.  120 Minute IPA has been a standard of hoppy beer for over 15 years and it is one of the few IPAs that can be cellared for years.

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

 

 

 

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA (15-20% ABV) – No, it’s not a wet-hopped beer or even a fresh-hopped beer, but Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA has been pushing the boundaries of hoppy beer since it was first brewed in 2003.  Brewed to test the boundaries of continual hopping, a technique developed by Dogfish Head, 120 Minute IPA is meant to be sipped slowly over the course of an evening since it contains such a monumental hop and alcohol presence.  For all those lovers of extremely hoppy beer, 120 Minute’s release has been circled on the calendar for a while.

#IPADay – As hoppy as you make it

As the cycle of Florida summer continues, there are three daily certainties: sun, rain, and thirst.  The sun and the rain are beyond control, but thirst, well thirst has met its match.  One day is reserved each summer, during the first week of August to refresh and delight the world with beers of all manner of hoppiness.  It’s the hoppiest day of the year – a day when Humulus Lupulus brings all of his leafy glory to a nearby pint glass, gifting the world with the aroma and the taste of hoppiness.  This day celebrates the most popular style in craft beer – the India Pale Ale.  IPA Day will take place on August 3rd, 2017 – the day of the year picked out to celebrate the brewing innovation that hops brought to beer.

 

Single Hop on Vine
A single hop grows on its vine.

What is a hop? 

Hops are the flowers of the humulus lupulus plant.  Hops are grown all over the world, mostly in areas with long days of daylight like, in the U.S., the Yakima Valley area of Washington and the Willamette Valley in Oregon.  While many farmers are working on growing hops in Florida, the idea is still relatively young and IPAs take so many hops that few breweries have made commercial beers with Florida hops.

 

How are hops used?

Hops on the bine
Hops are the cones of the humulus lupulus plant.

Hops were discovered around 700 AD and slowly became used for their utility in brewing beer.  In those “old days,” hop bitterness was used to counter the sweetness of malted barley.  Hops also have an antimicrobial effect on beer, acting as a preservative and as a way of keeping spoilage organisms out of beer for a time.  Hops became increasingly popular in brewing and by the year 1500 AD they were commonly used in brewing most styles of beer.

In modern times, Hops are harvested once each year and then dried and packaged for use continuously until the next hop harvest.  Hops are usually processed and pelletized for use and the vast majority of brewers use these pelletized hops to impart hop aroma and hop flavor into their beer.  When smelling a beer, the two largest contributors to aroma are the malt and the hops in a beer.  When tasting a beer, hops can play a starring role, a supporting role, or even a bit part in the flavor depending on how many hops the brewer adds and at what time in the brewing process.

 

What does it mean if a beer is ‘hoppy’?

A “hoppy beer” is one where the aroma and the flavor favor the hop, as opposed to favoring malt or something added to the beer like chocolate, wheat, or another flavor.  Hoppy beer can have flavors derived from any variety of hops, and hops can have a myriad of different flavors to impart on beer.  Hops commonly used in 2017 have flavors ranging from citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, tangerines, or grapefruits, to tropical fruit like guava or passionfruit, to strange and colorful flavors like pine sap, resin, or even flavors described as “catty.”  The amount of hop flavor imparted on a beer is controlled by the brewer and when he or she adds the hops to boiling beer.  For a hoppy beer, expect to find hop flavors in the aroma and in the flavor profile of the beer, usually extending into the finish or aftertaste of the beer.

 

Where can I start trying hoppy beer?

Abita Brewing Big Easy IPA

IPA is the best-selling style of craft beer in the United States and most brewers have a .  There are many styles and sub-styles of IPA, depending on your individual preference, but this style is accessible from many doors.  For instance, check out the following IPAs to test the hoppy waters.

 

 

New to the world of IPA? Try a Session IPA like Abita Brewing’s Big Easy IPA – Here’s a beer that is brewed in Louisiana and meant to bring the spirit of the Big Easy across the United States.  Big Easy is a session IPA, a beer with big hop flavor in a relatively small beer – finishing at 4.5% ABV while carrying the flavor of lemon peel and four different hops throughout.  Like Abita says, “Easy to drink and just right for long hot days, steamy nights, parades or a day on the river with friends.”

 

SaltWater Brewing Screamin Reels IPA

 

Want to try a hoppier IPA? Try an IPA like Saltwater Brewing’s Screamin’ Reels IPA – Stepping up to an IPA from a session IPA, there is a marked increase in body, hop flavor, and alcohol presence.  Delray Beach, Florida’s Saltwater Brewery’s Screamin’ Reels IPA carries the flavor of light caramel followed by earthy tangerine in waves of hops.  An IPA for those interested in nuances of the hop, Screamin’ Reels IPA washes in with a wave of hops

 

 

 

 

Ok, I think hoppy beer if for me! Where do I go from here?

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPAFrom the hoppy starter beers, there are many avenues to explore how far the humulus hopper can take a beer.  If your palate is warming up to (or in love with) beers with more hoppiness, try a few of these on for size.

 

Try an imperial IPA (also called a double IPA) like Dogfish Head Brewery’s 90 Minute IPA – Introduced in 2001, Dogfish Head Brewery of Milton, Delaware places their 90 Minute IPA in one of the top spots in the category in terms of hop flavor and aroma.  The beer’s name comes from the fact that the beer is hopped continuously for 90 minutes, Picked by Food & Wine Magazine as one of “The 25 Most Important American Craft Beers Ever Brewed,” 90 Minute IPA does not disappoint.  90 Minute IPA has a good deal of malt character behind the beer, which gives the beer a caramel flavor to reinforce the monstrous amount of hops used.

 

Sierra Nevada Brewing Hop Hunter IPA

 

 

Try another IPA with a different spin like Sierra Nevada Brewing’s Hop Hunter IPA – One of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s year-round IPAs, this beer utilizes farm-distilled hop oils alongside the brewery’s traditional whole cone hops for a uniquely potent hoppy beer.  Hop Hunter IPA is the standard burger beer dialed up to 11.  To get the most out of this beer, try it with a blue cheese and roasted red pepper hamburger or with a Stilton cheese to illuminate the distinct flavor of this beer.  For more information on farm-distilled hop oils, click here.

 

 

21st Amendment Brew Free! or Die IPA Blood Orange

 

 

Finally, try a different take on IPA by adding some fruit like 21st Amendment Brewery’s Blood Orange Brew Free! Or Die IPA: San Leandro, California’s 21st Amendment Brewery knows a few things about the West Coast style of IPA, being founded on the San Francisco Bay.  Recently, the brewery has used the addition of blood orange puree to make the blood orange version of their IPA a horse of a different color.  While the hoppy character of Brew Free! Or Die is the building block of the beer, the sweet citrus of these sanguine fruits adds a few layers to the hop flavor parfait.