In honor of today being #IPAday, that social media construct and unofficial beer holiday which began back in 2011 to celebrate the style which I personally find myself celebrating, well, every day of the year; and considering that my hometown’s Microfestivus craft beer festival is in just a couple days, I figured I’d throw together a list of a few of the IPAs that are going to be making an appearance at the festival and break down why you might not want to miss them come Saturday.
For this post, we’ll bypass all the usual reasons IPAs remain one of the most cherished styles around. We’ll steer around the generalities of why we love them so, and not go too deeply into the endless aroma and flavor capabilities which the style is capable of bringing us. For so many of us who are “into” craft beer, our love of IPAs and other hop forward beers should be obvious. There are a ton of examples on most every store shelf, yet new ones keep flowing from breweries as if we’ll never be satisfied. We continuously seek them out. We emphasize drinking them fresh. We build mental tiers of the best, better, and lesser examples and then discuss them at length with friends. We even buy new t-shirts emblazoned with pictures of pint glasses filled to the rim and spilling over with whole cone hops or ones with the phrase “I Love Craft Beer” on them, but with a drawing of hops fashioned into the shape of a heart, replacing the word “Love”, and then proudly display such shirts at craft beer festivals, sort of the same way sports fanatics wear their team’s logo to the big game – except we’re all on big hop loving team. Admit it, we can be a little like that, and that’s ok. It’s more than ok. We simply love what hops do for our beers, and therefore the styles which are most representative of what hops give to beer, such as the IPA. (At least we don’t wear big hop shaped, foam “Hops are Number 1!” fingers.)
But onto some of the IPAs that will be at this year’s Microfestivus. With so many examples of the style present, the list will be broken down into at least two categories: “Can’t Miss” and “Don’t Miss” IPAs. “Can’t Miss” represents the ones that year in, year out, simply do just that. They can’t miss. They have established themselves as great examples of the style and chances are, you’ve likely had them before. Yet, should you feel a need to revisit them from time to time, this may be a good opportunity to. “Don’t Miss” are ones that might have – might have – gotten under your radar, and for one reason or another, you haven’t given a go of yet.
Victory Dirtwolf. This double IPA brings a ton of volume to the table with bunches of varied tropical and other kinds of fruit notes in the flavor and aroma including mangoes, peaches, oranges, possibly some lemon thrown in as well, some peppery spiciness, as well as some “dankness” in the aroma, and then completely nails a cleanly supporting sweetness which is no more in the way than a soft hum in the background of the song, then finishes dry. One pretty amazing DIPA.
Founders Double Trouble. The sweetness is dialed up a little some here, as if the grapefruit has been macerated with sugar somewhat, but overall, it is still an onslaught of bitterness, mango or grapefruit, perhaps a bit of oniony flavor/aroma and at around 9% abv, gives a little heat at the very least.
Here are a couple others that just can’t miss, time in and time out: Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA (perhaps a bit more balanced than the others above, with still plenty of citrus and pine), Lagunitas IPA, and one of my personal favorites, Troegs Perpetual IPA.
Hardywood Park. Hardywood may be bringing their “Float” Session IPA, which has been making a few rounds in Richmond throughout the summer so far. A session IPA at around 4.0%, this is just one of a few lower alcohol IPAs that may be appearing at the festival.
Parkway Brewing’s Factory Girl. Chances are you’ve gotten a taste of this since it was released in the last few months, but if you haven’t, seek it out. This one’s a solid “Session” style IPA in that it is low in alcohol percentage but still manages to bring plenty of flavor. There is a light, almost fresh melon like taste and aroma to this, with a light, clean bitterness.
Heavy Seas’ Riptide. If you thought that Heavy Seas only does Loose Cannon, you might be surprised to find that they also offer this seasonal release as well, which rates an 86 on RateBeer and an 89 by the Alstrom Brothers on BeerAdvocate. A “White IPA” in that it is brewed with wheat malt and spices, like a Witbier, but with IPA style hop additions, the fruity Belgian like flavors from the yeast work well with the light citrus notes from the hops used.
Others to seek out include Isley Brewing’s (Richmond) Scott’s Addition IPA, which adds some more regional flair to our list of IPAs, and Stone Brewing’s Go To IPA (yet another session style with a great aroma).
These are but a few suggestions to possibly seek out come Saturday. As with any beer festival, the opportunity to try something new is one of the best parts of the day. Who knows what doors of interest you’ll open by seeking out something different.
Of course, these suggestions are based upon the latest list provided by the folks with Microfestivus, and as always with any beer festival, the beer line up can change at the last minute.