The first India Pale Ale was brewed to be transported from England to India. The high hop content was a way to preserve the precious liquid on its voyage. Today, barrels aren’t tossed on boats to set sail for weeks across the heavy seas. Actually, quite the opposite, as many don’t make it past the hoards of beer lovers lined up for can releases at breweries across the country.

The IPA has become America’s beer. It’s the most popular craft beer style in the country, and has experienced insane volume growth over the last few years. That means there are a lot of IPAs out there, many that aren’t worth your time and money. If you want the ones that absolutely are, consider this list. These are your bucket list IPAs. Many—but not all—will be hard to get, but that’s why it’s a bucket list.

Oh, and before anyone asks, yes, we decided to include both Double IPAs (aka Imperial IPAs) and Triple IPAs on this list. Style lines are so blurry these days. And, really, all of these beers are the same at heart. With that out of the way, Godspeed and happy hunting.


Focal Banger

Brewery: The Alchemist

Location: Stowe, VT


Heady Topper had a long and illustrious run as the beer all beer drinkers had to try. That hype has died down a little, as other breweries started brewing equally juicy and dank hopbombs. In fact, The Alchemist, the brewery that brews Heady Topper, was one of those breweries. Focal Banger, which is one of John Kimmich’s older brews, saw its way into cans originally released at pop-up sales not that long ago. Now with the new Alchemist facility open to the public and offering Heady, Focal Banger, Crusher, and more to visitors, you can visit Stowe, Vermont, and realize why Focal Banger drove fans crazy. Focal Banger delivers a good amount of bitterness while packing tons of tropical fruit notes.


Two Hearted Ale

Brewery: Bell’s

Location: Comstock, MI


A lot of beers on this list will take some planning to acquire. This isn’t one of those beers. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale is one of those easy-to-acquire gems that you can enjoy while others hunt the latest limited release from Tree House. Shelf IPAs are dangerous things. You need to pay attention to bottling dates and store conditions. That said, when you find some fresh Two Hearted Ale, it’s a gift from the beer gods. Packed with a citrus aroma and a taste that introduces just enough malty caramel, this beer is our go-to IPA.



Brewery: Tree House Brewing Company

Location: Monson, MA


This is the beer that put Tree House on the map. Over the last few years, the Monson, Massachusetts, brewery has become the destination for hazy, juicy IPAs that taste like a glass of orange juice. Julius delivers notes of mango and citrus in spades. If you desire bitter, classic IPAs, this isn’t for you. If you’re down with the whole NE IPA trend, this is one of the OGs.



Brewery: Columbus Brewing Company

Location: Columbus, OH


Beer-loving Cool Material reader, we live in a great time. This year saw the bottling of one of the finest Double IPAs ever concocted. Bodhi, a former medalist at The Great American Beer Festival, puts the Citra hop on full display, offering a citrus and pine aroma. The velvety body of the beer is exceptionally smooth and enjoyable. Basically, get over to Columbus.


Pliny the Elder

Brewery: Russian River Brewing

Location: Santa Rosa, CA


As more and more breweries start making juicy IPAs without any bitterness, Pliny the Elder is a beacon of hope for lovers of classic West Coast hop numbers. Piney, bitter, and resinous, Pliny the Elder is something so many IPAs these days are not. We’re not saying one style is better, but this type of IPA holds a special place in our heart, as it’s the kind we enjoyed when craft beer was becoming a thing. The beauty of Pliny the Elder lies in how balanced and drinkable it is.


Enjoy By IPA

Brewery: Stone

Location: Escondido, CA


What started as an experimental brew two short years ago has become one of the finest offerings from a brewery with a lot of offerings. Enjoy By IPA is released at certain times throughout the year and each bottle displays the date it is best enjoyed by right on the label. It’s meant to be consumed fresh. Obviously. At 9.4%, it’s strong and dank but surprisingly drinkable. Its popularity spurred the creation of Enjoy By Black IPA, Enjoy By Unfiltered IPA, Enjoy By Tangerine IPA, and Enjoy After. All of those are good, but we recommend getting the one that got this whole line started.



Brewery: Trillium

Location: Boston, MA


Trillium knows a thing or two about brewing beautiful hoppy beers. We’ve yet to have one of their IPAs that hasn’t knocked our socks off. Headroom, which recently saw its way into cans, is the hoppiest beer they’ve ever brewed—and damn is it good. It’s so good, in fact, that we might say this is the beer we’d recommend the most on this list, and that’s insanely high praise. The hoppy Double IPA is only released at the end of summer, so you’ll have to wait until next year to check this one off your list. But if you want a Galaxy and Mosaic hop masterpiece, we’d recommend booking your late August trip to Boston right now.



Brewery: Alpine

Location: Alpine, CA


There was some initial fear when Alpine Beer Company, makers of some of the finest IPAs in America, was acquired by Green Flash. What would happen to the quality of Duet? Nelson? Hoppy Birthday? Well, it appears all that happened was an uptick in distribution. That’s a good thing, because it means you’ll have an easier time getting your hands on Duet, one of our favorite IPAs around. Made with Amarillo and Simcoe hops, Duet is delicate, floral, and a tad bitter.


Todd the Axe Man

Brewery: Surly

Location: Minneapolis, MN


Surly brews some great beers—Abrasive Ale, Furious, Coffee Bender, Wet—but our favorite from the Minnesota brewery is Todd the Axe Man, the brewery’s West Coast style IPA. Only one malt (Golden Promise) is used in the creation of Todd the Axe Man, and it’s complimented by Citra and Mosaic hops. The nose is citrusy and piney and the body is chewy and kinda sweet. It’s scary drinkable.


Strawberry Milkshake IPA

Brewery: Tired Hands

Location: Ardmore, PA


Originally brewed as a collaboration between Tired Hands and Omnipollo, the milkshake series has taken on a life of its own. Strawberry Milkshake is the original, but Tired Hands has gone on to brew all of the following Milkshakes: Calamansi, Cherry-Raspberry, Watermelon, Guava, Peach, Kiwi, Mango and more. We’re lucky that Cool Material Headquarters is a relative stone’s throw from Tired Hands, and that we’ve been able to sample a good number of those brews. We’ll say this, they’re all amazing. Unfortunately, getting any will require a bit of luck, so while we say Strawberry, any will really do for your check list. Each is brewed with lactose and vanilla to deliver a milkshake-like drinking experience. If you’ve ever wanted a boozy version of a McDonald’s shake, this is it in IPA form.



Brewery: Maine Beer Company

Location: Freeport, ME


For the last release of Dinner, Maine Beer Company’s Double IPA, people lined up in the middle of the night, long before sunrise, and they still probably worried whether they’d get a bottle. You may ask yourself if any beer is worth camping out for? Well, we can’t answer that for you, but we can tell you Dinner is one of our absolute favorite beers we’ve ever tasted. It’s a 5 bottle capper on Untappd for us. In a weird way it’s the best of both IPA worlds. It’s got that juiciness Northeast IPAs have become known for, but it’s also got a piney component that just takes us back to old school West Coast IPAs. On top of that, it’s creamy and packed with tons of flavor. Is it worth a night in line? As much as any beer could be.


Hill Farmstead Double Citra

Brewery: Hill Farmstead

Location: Greensboro, VT


What list of great IPAs would be complete without at least one from America’s greatest brewery? Hill Farmstead, which, if you haven’t been, is tucked away in the quiet green plains of Greensboro, Vermont, brews unbelievable beers (you can read about one right here), and their IPAs are no exception. All soft, delicate, and approachable, it’s hard to pick just one. Since we have to, we’re going with Double Citra, a Double IPA dry hopped with Citra. It’s aromatic and gentle on the tongue. Unfortunately, like all Hill Farmstead IPAs, Double Citra doesn’t go into bottles or cans. So, go up for a pour and a growler when you see it on tap. Actually, go up even if it isn’t, because there will be a world-class IPA waiting for your no matter what.



Brewery: Ballast Point

Location: San Diego, CA


Here’s another easy one to check off the list. Ballast Point’s Sculpin is a beer you can find even in places that think Blue Moon is a fine craft beer. It’s ubiquitous. And that’s a good thing. You’ll find tropical notes, mango, peach, and more when you take a whiff, and enough bitterness to balance it all out when you take a sip. There’s a reason this beer has won 27 awards.


Pliny the Younger

Brewery: Russian River Brewing

Location: Santa Rosa, CA


We said we’d put a Triple IPA on this list, so here you go. But we didn’t select just any Triple IPA, we selected the Triple IPA. Pliny the Younger is released once a year at both Russian River and a select group of watering holes. People wait in line for a small pour (hell, we did a few years back) and then call it a year. What makes the beer so exceptional is how balanced and drinkable it is for being so bodacious (it pushes 11% ABV). It’s a drinking experience every hophead should have at least once.


Double Jack

Brewery: Firestone Walker

Location: Paso Robles, CA


Some breweries just get it. While others tinker and play with a million recipes—some good, some awful—others, like Firestone Walker, just put out winners. Their portfolio feels like a greatest hits album, where every beer is a standout. If you venture into their hoppy numbers, the greatest of the great is Double Jack, their Double IPA. Sweet and juicy but incredibly balanced, Double Jack is for those nights when a Union Jack just won’t do. It’s a full-bodied treat.


King Sue

Brewery: Toppling Goliath

Location: Decorah, IA


You could dry hop Soylent with Citra and we’d want to drink it. It’s our favorite hop and, when used recklessly, can impart the most intoxicating aroma. Our favorite example of this can be found in King Sue, Toppling Goliath’s bigger, badder older brother of the well-known PseudoSue Pale Ale. A whiff is all you need to know you’re in for a treat. Citrus is fired into your nostrils. But aroma is not the only great thing about King Sue. It’s an 8% gem that drinks far too easily.


Triple Sunshine IPA

Brewery: Lawson’s Finest Liquids

Location: Warren, VT


One of the Vermont heavy hitters, Lawson’s Finest Liquids churns out some seriously impressive IPAs. While Sip of Sunshine is the can to be found, those lucky few who hit the area at the right time might just be able to score a bottle of the brewery’s finest offering, Triple Sunshine IPA. The beer is bursting with fresh hop notes (assuming you drink it fresh) and packs a creamy and rich body. The booze is hard to find, which is crazy for a beer that’s over 10% ABV.


Anchor Liberty Ale

Brewery: Anchor Brewing Company

Location: San Francisco, CA


Every single beer on this list owes a little something to this here brew. Anchor’s Liberty Ale was the first modern American IPA brewed after prohibition. It ushered in the fanfare for the Cascade hop. It’s a hoppy OG. Does it fit with current IPA trends? No. It’s malty and lacking those in-your-face citrus and pine notes. But it’s beautiful for what it is, and that’s a well-made, easy drinking, light IPA that harks back to the roots of the style.


Hop Juju Imperial IPA

Brewery: Fat Head’s

Location: Middleburg Heights, OH


Bitterness is sort of out of style right now. Drinkers are gravitating toward juicy numbers with IBUs in the single digits. If that’s your thing, we get it, but it also leaves more Hop Juju for us, so we’re cool with it. Hop Juju is an assertively bitter brew that packs tropical notes and plenty of grapefruit. It’s wonderful. Hopefully people keep wanting cans of orange juice masquerading as beer, because we’d gladly buy a shelf of this Double IPA.



Brewery: Creature Comforts

Location: Athena, GA


OK, all that stuff we just said about bitterness being out of style, here’s delicious proof. We’re not haters, we’ll take our IPAs any way we can get them, as long as they’re fresh and well made. A great example is Tropicália, a wonderfully juicy brew that matches its name perfectly. Packed with notes of passion fruit and your morning juice, Tropicália delights the senses.



Brewery: Tree House Brewing Company

Location: Monson, MA


No, that name is not a misprint. JJJuliusss is the juicier, fuller, rarer brother of Tree House’s incredible Julius IPA. It’s gonna take some work to acquire. Maybe not King JJJuliusss work (a beer we actually like slightly less than it), but work, none the less. You’ll need to get to the brewery on the right day, early enough to snag a ticket. But, oh boy if you do. This is hands down one of the juiciest and most incredible brews we’ve ever been lucky enough to drink. It’s like alcoholic orange juice.


Pernicious IPA

Brewery: Wicked Weed

Location: Asheville, NC


Wicked Weed may be best known for their incredible Wild Ales, but if you sleep on their relatively accessible IPA, Pernicious, you’re really missing out. The mouthfeel is a real treat, as Wicked Weed nailed the carbonation, and that’s often an overlooked quality that can really elevate the beer. While the aroma packs tropical notes, this beer doesn’t follow the Juicy Juice trend, as it’s plenty bitter and drying. If you find yourself in Asheville, take a breather from the tart and funky and get a pour of this.



Brewery: Bissell Brothers

Location: Portland, ME


Hey, another brewery from the Northeast brewing citrus-forward IPAs! Yes, there are a lot, and most aren’t all that good, but Bissell Brothers gets it all right. If you need proof, procure yourself a can or two of Swish, the brewery’s most well-known beer. It’s hazy, mango-y, and delicious. If this is the style you dig, it’s almost unfair how many good breweries exist from Maine down to Pennsylvania. Swish is proof Bissell Brothers is one of them.


Heady Topper

Brewery: The Alchemist

Location: Stowe, VT


How could we not? While the luster of the once holy grail-like Heady Topper has faded, its quality hasn’t. Sure more lust-worthy brews have come along since Heady was first canned, but it’s still one of the best out there. Tropical and dank with a lingering bitterness, Heady Topper is an all-around fantastic adult beverage. Besides, as people gobble up Focal Banger, Crusher, Luscious, and whatever other magic they’re brewing at the new Alchemist facility, it just means there might be more Heady for the rest of us.


Vallejo IPA

Brewery: Half Acre

Location: Chicago, IL


Vallejo is a bit of a malty, spicy, and bitter IPA, which is something we can get behind. Sure, you get a bit of those citrus notes when you take a whiff, but Vallejo opens to reveal a lot more. While it’s a bit thinner than those creamy numbers mentioned earlier, this aids in its drinkability. Basically, it’s the IPA for guys who like to drink a few IPAs in a sitting. And there’s always room for an IPA like that.

Huckberry_Holiday _23 Studio_Hero Marquee__45 degree (2) (1) (1) Large

Unzip your coat and have some mulled wine on the house—you’ve arrived at your final gifting destination: The Holiday Gift Guide. It’s like your friendly neighborhood one-stop holiday shop, except instead of balsa wood ornaments, ours is packed with thoughtful gifts for everyone on your list. Future heirlooms, small-but-significant stocking stuffers, and gear for getting out there (or staying in)—are all right here. There’s no music playing in the background though, so you’ll just have to hum Bing Crosby while you click around instead.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information