Back in 2006, the Brewers Association launched American Craft Beer Week (ACBW) to support small and independent craft breweries. Each year, ACBW occurs during the second full week of May — the 2023 celebration is THIS week, May 15 — 21. In the intervening years, the craft beer industry has seen significant growth and change; however, one style continues to thrive: India Pale Ale (IPA).
In a world in which consumers demand perpetual novelty, trends come, and trends go, but hops spring eternal. With assistance from beer rating sites, Brewer’s Haven, and a few friends, I have chosen a selection of American IPAs to revisit during ACBW. The respective breweries have continuously produced these beers since or before 2006. Regardless of whether they’re labeled throwbacks or heritage pours, these selections represent a form of liquid time travel and remain relevant today based upon their inherent quality.
In 2006, the IBU (International Bitterness Unit) Wars were on: breweries chose to use stupid amounts of hops, regardless of the palate-destroying consequences. In addition to bitterness, hops add flavor and aroma — the majority of the following beers boast not only a wonderful hop perfume but also an inviting and brilliant clarity. Cheers! ~M
Stone IPA — Stone has brewed this West Coast icon since 1997, though the recipe continues to develop as new hops hit the scene. Expect a solid bitterness that builds upon a surprising sweetness, evoking candied citrus peel.
Bell’s Two Hearted IPA — Also brewed since 1997, this selection features 100% Centennial hops, bringing ample pine and grapefruit notes. Worth noting, Two Hearted consistently ranks in the top 5 Best American Beers as voted by Zymurgy Magazine readers and only recently became available in the Boise market, lucky us!
Terminal Gravity IPA — Completing our trio of 1997 offerings, this IPA brings a toasty malt character to the hop party. All are welcome. It tastes good poured from a can in my backyard but best at its source in Enterprise, Oregon.
Sockeye Dagger Falls IPA — Sockeye Brewing is the house that Dagger built. Since 2002/03, Boise’s own iconic IPA has satisfied so many folks with its Simcoe hop-forward approach. Piney and herbal with citrus highlights, Dagger drinks well solo or with rich, salty foods.
Ninkasi Total Domination — Since 2006, this Northwest IPA has brought the noise. A leaner malt build exacerbates an already aggressively-designed hop profile. And yet I continue drinking it … .
Firestone Walker Union Jack (FWUJ) — Brewed in 2006 to celebrate FW’s 10th anniversary, UJ is bitter but nicely balanced, and, dare I say delightful?!? If you haven’t recently, you should.
Having tasted, sold, brewed, named, blended, written and thought about, discussed, argued over, and judged barley’s finest use for over 15 years, I have opinions on the subject. Ultimately, I’m of the mind that if you like it, drink it. If not, don’t waste your liver money on it. Please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org.