Best IPAs

By Bob Barnes

11. Russian River Pliny the Elder

Russian River Pliny the Elder

Origin: Santa Rosa, CA, U.S.A.
Beer type: IPA
Price: $5.99 for 500 ml
ABV: 8%
Brewed by: Russian River Brewing Company

Bay Area beer titan Vinnie Cilurzo created Russian River Brewing’s first double IPA in 2000 for friend Vic Kralj, who owns The Bistro in nearby Hayward and was hosting the inaugural Double IPA Festival.

Cilurzo named the bold beer for Pliny the Elder, who is credited with first writing about Lupus salictarius, otherwise known as hops. This cloudy, copper-hued, well-balanced beer is crafted with Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ and Simcoe hops and has an enticing aroma, reminiscent of a pine forest. Pliny the Elder succumbed in heroic fashion while rescuing friends during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D.; you can now drink like a hero with Russian River’s iconic IPA.

12. Samuel Smith’s India Ale

Samuel Smith's India Ale

Origin: Tadcaster, U.K.
Beer type: IPA
Price: $4.99 for 18 oz.
ABV: 5%
Brewed by: Samuel Smith Old Brewery

While the flavor is hop forward, it doesn’t approach that of its American cousins.

This traditional IPA is 100 percent English. It’s brewed with water from the original well at the Old Tadcaster Brewery, which dates back to 1758; it utilizes English-grown malted barley and hops; and it’s fermented in classic stone Yorkshire squares. At only 5 percent ABV with a 46 IBU count, this brew is quite sessionable and pours an apricot color with an earthy and caramel aroma. While the flavor is hop forward, it doesn’t approach that of its American cousins.

13. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA

Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA

Origin: Chico, CA, U.S.A.
Beer type: IPA
Price: $16 for 12-pack 12 oz.
ABV: 7.2%
Brewed by: Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada is so serious about its full-cone hops, it invented its own patented device…

Sierra Nevada is so serious about its full-cone hops, it invented its own patented device, the Hop Torpedo, to more efficiently extract the volatile hop oils without adding bitterness. This IPA takes its name from the unique dry-hopping technique the brewery uses, maximizing the pine, citrus and herbal aromas that form the beer’s backbone. Beware the bone-dry finish, which will make you want to reach for more.

14. Victory DirtWolf Double IPA

Victory DirtWolf Double IPA

Origin: Downingtown, PA, U.S.A.
Beer type: IPA
Price: $9.99 for four-pack 12 oz.
ABV: 8.7%
Brewed by: Victory Brewing Company

A pungent 8.7 percent ABV brew that’s so flavorful, you might find it hard to put down.

This golden-hued double IPA is brewed with whole-flower American-grown Citra, Chinook, Simcoe and Mosaic hops, which bring on a full dose of citrus, pine, grapefruit and pineapple aromas. Don’t let the higher alcohol content sneak up on you: This is a pungent 8.7 percent ABV brew that’s so flavorful, you might find it hard to put down.