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My ongoing IPA research programme

23 May 2013

Some time in 2012, during a visit to California, I began an intensive research programme on India Pale Ale (IPA). It is one of the two glorious beverages given to the world by the British Empire (the other one being Port), and by coincidence, much of the best IPA is brewed in small breweries in the former colonies on the other side of the Atlantic. So while visiting San Francisco, I started keeping a list of ales that I have enjoyed, and now it is time to share it. In the beginning I included no tasting notes, just the name and where it is brewed, in the order of tasting. More recent entries contains more information, both as a reminder to myself and for the benefit of the reader.  The beers that I can buy locally in Alicante are in boldface. Finally, because my daughter is vegan, some of the beers that are explicitly identified as being vegan are noted as well.

I have arranged the beers by country of origin for easier reference.

USA

Due to the disgusting behaviour of the current US government in general, and its iniatiation of a trade war with the rest of the world through the steel and aluminium tariffs imposed on 8 March 2018 and subsequent actions, I have decided to boycott all US-made products. Therefore, all beers made in the USA have been deleted from this page.

SPAIN

  • Au Yeah! American Pale Ale (Valencia). Not bad, but not great. A bit lacking in the oomph one expects from an IPA. Granted, it only has 4.5% alcohol, a plus in our hot climate, but there are other low-alcohol IPAs with more body. Available in many Alicante supermarkets, last tasted at home December 2015.
  • Fort Indian Pale Ale (L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Catalunya)
  • VIPA (Cervecería Tyris, Valencia)
  • Sènia Tostà (Cerveses Sènia, Benifaló, Valencia): artisanal ale from a local brewery. Lots of taste at 5%. Bought at La Rincón de la Cerveza in Elche, tasted at home.
  • Domus Summa (Cervezas Regio, Toledo). This is a beer difficult to characterise. It is not an IPA, but I decided to include it because it is, by a wide margin, the most interesting Spanish beer I have tasted to date. It is a double-fermentation beer, on the dark side, with 7.2% alcohol. In other words, a beer for Belgian beer lovers, but the power is tempered a bit by the addition of a touch of honey. A really nice, complex beer. Bought at Habemus Birra in Alicante and tasted at home (October 2014).
  • Sagra IPA. Another beer from Toledo, a proper IPA this time, with lots of taste but also 7.2% alcohol. Still, together with the Domus beer above, this makes Toledo the beer capital of Spain. Bought at the supermarket in El Corte Inglés, Alicante, and tasted at home (November 2014).
  • Back in Black India Pale Ale (Naparbier, Noáin, Navarra). A true find among Spanish beers. A potent IPA in every sense of the word. The hops attack immediately. The alcohol is at 8.5%. But it is worth it. This is the kind of beer of which you only drink one in an evening. Just great stuff. Bought at Habemus Birra in Alicante, tasted at home (January 2015).
  • Aker India Pale Ale (Naparbier, Noáin, Navarra). I have found my new favourite Spanish beer. Like the Back in Black (reviewed above), this beer is a potent IPA in terms of taste and hoppiness. But the alcohol is significantly lower at 6.7%, without giving away any of the taste. This is a great IPA by any standards, and it stands up beautifully to the best offerings from the USA. Bought at Habemus Birra in Alicante, tasted at home (February 2015).
  • Kadabra IPA (Cervezería Estrella del Norte, León). An excellent Spanish effort from a small, artisanal brewery. Very soft taste, a good IPA for beginners. 6.5% alcohol. Bought at medieval market in Alicante, tasted at home (April 2015). Update: bought at Beershooter Alicante, May 2016.
  • Domus Aurea IPA. Back in October 2014, I raved about Domus Summa (see above). During a recent visit to Toledo (home of the Domus brewery), I bought a couple of different Domus products, among them Aurea IPA. Having now tried, I regret even more that it is not available in Alicante. It is a wonderful brew, with all the usual IPA characteristics, well-balanced, and deliciously refreshing at just 5.4% alcohol. Bought in Toledo, tasted at home (May 2015). Found in the Alcampo in Alicante, May 2016.
  • Exulans Pacific Ale (Exulans Cerveza Artesana, Novelda). The name “Pacific Ale” led me to think that this is a Spanish version of a West Coast ale, and in a way it is, with a strong hoppy and bitter taste (despite claiming only 30 IBU). It certainly packs lots of taste into a modest 5.1% alcohol package. The beer is unpasteurised, unfiltered, with no added CO2. Delicious all the way, and brewed just 50 km or so from here! Bought at Beershooters, Alicante, tasted at home (September 2015).
  • Wasabic (Fills del Pecat, Alicante). A new craft brewery right here in Alicante! Always worth supporting. I am somewhat sceptical of beers with added “exotic” ingredients, but the touch of wasabi in this ale is so subtle that it really adds to the flavour and overall experience. A nice, balanced beer, with 21 IBU and only 4.5% alcohol. Definitely a beer I will be buying again.  Bought at Beershooters, Alicante, tasted at home (September 2015).
  • Yapale Murcia Pale Ale (Cerveceria Yakka, Jumilla, Murcia). Another quasi-local offering, and another one I will buy again. Fruity and balanced ale, 30 IBU and 5.1% alcohol. Bought at Beershooters, Alicante, tasted at home (September 2015).
  • Exulans Ipacondríaca (Exulans Cerveza Artesana, Novelda). Today, when I visited Beershooters as I often do on Fridays, I was told about two new IPAs from Exulans. This was one of the two. A session IPA with 4% alcohol and 45 IBU, packing an amazing amount of flavour in such a light package. Another great beer from what must be one of the top 3 breweries in Spain (in terms of quality). Bought at Beershooters, Alicante, tasted at home (November 2015).
  • Exulans Festival IPA (Exulans Cerveza Artesana, Novelda). This was the second new beer at Beershooters today. A more muscular IPA at 6% and 57 IBU but very well balanced and pleasant. Yet another gem from this brewery. It is unfiltered, unpasteurised, with nothing added. Just hops, malt, yeast and water. Bought at Beershooters, Alicante, tasted at home (November 2015).
  • Maier Pale Ale (Cerveza Maier, Cadiz). Not really an IPA, but a pleasant and refreshing ale with a slightly sour note. At only 4.5% alcohol, this is an excellent beer to accompany a summer BBQ, for example. Bought at Supercor, Alicante, tasted at home (December 2015).
  • Goose (Cerveza Goose, Segovia). Calling itself “la pale ale de Segovia”. Low on bitterness, and like the Maier, not a true IPA, but deliciously flavourful and refreshing, and only 4.5% alcohol. Honey is listed on the ingredients list (along with the four standard beer fundamental particles) but this beer is certainly not sweet. Another great beer for warm days. Bought at Beershooters Alicante, tasted at home (December 2015).
  • Insider IPA (Naparbier, Noáin, Navarra). Another gem from this excellent brewery. Just as much oomph as the Back in Black reviewed above, but with less alcohol at 7.3%. The IBUs are not stated on the bottle, but they must be substantial. Bought at Habemus Birra, Alicante, tasted at home (December 2015).
  • Terapia Ballut IPA (Cerveceria Artesana Natural Extremeña, Badajoz). A perfectly balanced IPA from Extremadura, a region of Spain not generally associated with brewing excellence. But this IPA really is excellent, with 54 IBU and 6% alcohol. Tasted at Moments restaurant, Urbanova, Alicante.
  • I love IPA (Fills del Pecat, Alicante). From the makers of Wasabic, another beer which lists “strange” ingredients on the label: figs, dates and ginger in addition to the basic beer components. But it is delicious, soft, with just right amount of bitterness, and at a modest 6% alcohol it scores on the taste-to-alcohol ratio. Bought at Beershooters Alicante, tasted at home (March 2016).
  • El Cantero IPA (Ginés García Piña, Puerto Lumbreras, Murcia). A very nice, clean IPA, unfiltered, unpasteurised. First taste a bit on the bitter side, but after some exposure to air it mellows in a very pleasant way. Good body, as expected from a beer with 6.9% alcohol. Yet another example of the fantastic development of the Spanish beer scene. Bought at Habemus Birra, tasted at home (March 2016). Update: I bought a beer of the same name, from a brewery in Puerto Lumbreras also, but called El Cantero, in August 2016 at Beershooters Alicante. This second version has similar characteristics to the one I tasted in March, but with 7.5% alcohol.
  • Amai Apache IPA (Amai Craft Beer, Madrid). A nice, lovely balanced West Coast style IPA, with just the right level of bitterness and a modest 5.2% alcohol. Found at my neighbourhood bar; I hope they continue to carry it. Bought and tasted at Crowley bar, Playa San Juan, Alicante (August 2016).
  • American IPA (Cervezas 69, Albacete). A more powerful IPA than the Amai Apache just above, with 69 IBU and 6% alcohol. Similar to El Cantero, but less alcohol. Seems a bit sour when first opened, but the sourness disappears after a couple of minutes in the glass. Best drunk from a round, Chimay-style glass. Bought at Habemus Birra, Alicante, tasted at home (December 2016).
  • El Molino del Río 24 Kilates Pale Ale (Molino del Río Argos, Caravaca de la Cruz, Murcia). Another one of the artisanal beers from the region of Murcia; unpastaurized and unfiltered, with a second fermentation in the bottle. Very light, refreshing taste with a modest 5.5% alcohol. A good beer for warm weather. Given to me by a colleague, tasted at home (December 2016).
  • Cerdos Voladores Indian Pale Ale (Barcelona Beer Company). Aside from the amusing name (“Flying Pigs”), this beer has a lot of merit: no additives, nice balance, good body at a reasonable 6% alcohol. Available at both Habemus Birra and Beershooters. Tasted at home (December 2016).
  • Amor Amargo American Indian Pale Ale (Cerveza Tyris, Valencia). A rather strange IPA. When I first poured it, it had a nice fruity tinge to balance the bitterness, but as the beer breathed a bit, the bitterness took over. According to the label it has 75 IBUs, but it tastes more bitter than that. At 7% alcohol, the trade-off between alcohol and taste is not that favourable. An interesting beer but not among my favourites. Given to me by colleagues, tasted at home (December 2016). The name means “bitter love.”
  • Arriaca IPA (Cervezas Arriaca, Guadalajara). A pleasant surprise from the local supermarket. Bought as one of three beers in a pack from this brewery; I actually preferred the rubia but this is an IPA blog, so I focus on this one. This IPA carries 60 IBU and 6.9% alcohol but has a very mild taste, on the sweet more than on the bitter side. Bought at Aldi in Playa San Juan, tasted at home (January 2017).
  • Bekeler American Pale Ale (Cervezas Bekeler, Alicante). A nice, mild ale from the town where I live. Modest alcohol at 5.4% and good balance. Very informative label, with information on the types of hops used (Chinook), 25 IBUs, and other info. Bought at Habemus Birra, tasted at home (January 2017).
  • Naparbier Sandokan Double IPA (Naparbier, Noáin, Navarra). A powerful ale. Nothing mild about it. It is bitter and fruity at the same time. Lots of flavours, evolves as exposed to air in the glass, and with a heavy 8% alcohol. This is a delicious IPA, but one of which you only drink one per evening. Bought at Beershooters, tasted at home (January 2017).
  • Mistral Imperial IPA (Althaia Artesana, Altea). A powerful entry from a brewery just up the road from Alicante (about 60 km north of here). Beautifully balanced, just the right amount of hoppiness at bitterness. IBU not indicated, but it seems around 50. At 8.7% alcohol, this is not a beer for summer BBQ, but a good one to enjoy later in the evening. Bought at Beershooters, tasted at home (May 2017).
  • Yakka Serious Rye IPA (Cervezas Yakka, Jumilla, Murcia). The addition of rye malt gives extra body to the beer, in the same way that rye bread is more satisfying than the plain white stuff. Also five different kinds of hops, providing good balance. Clearly a beer into which the brewery has invested a lot of thought and effort. This is no light beer at 7.1% alcohol but well worth it. Bought at Beershooters, tasted at home (June 2017).
  • Althaia IPA (Althaia Artesana, Altea). Another IPA from this brewery in Alicante province. Powerful IPA taste, maybe a bit on the bitter side. Unfiltered and unpasteurized. At 6.5% alcohol, it is considerably lighter in this regard than the Mistral Imperial IPA from the same brewery, but taste-wise it does not give up much to its big brother. Bought at Beershooters, tasted at home (July 2017).
  • Postiguet IPA Alicantina (Cervezas Naturales Alicantinas, Alicante).  A beer from the town where I live, always a plus. Unfiltered, unpasteurized, reasonable alcohol at 6.5%, powerful taste, although a bit on the bitter side. Still worth re-tasting. Bought at Beershooters, tasted at home (December 2017).
  • IPA Cerveza Artesana (Club del Gourmet, El Corte Inglés). I have no idea where this beer is actually brewed, presumably somewhere in Spain, but there is not indication on the bottle. It is basically the store brand IPA from Spain’s leading department store. A hefty 70 IBU is nicely counterbalanced by considerable fruitiness, making it a pleasant IPA indeed. At 7% alcohol, it is not among the lightest, so perhaps it is better suited to the cooler winter days than to August in Alicante. It also seems like a beer that would go well with food. Bought at El Corte Inglés in Alicante, tasted at home (August 2018).
  • The Fits DDH Imperial IPA (Jakobsland Brewers, Santiago de Compostela). A powerful IPA in every respect; its 9% alcohol content is nicely balanced by the perfect combination of flavours. A perfect winter beer. The label does not indicate the IBU but it has to be substantial. Given to me by a colleague at work, tasted at home (January 2019).
  • Tyris IPA (In Extremis, Valencia). An excellent, balanced IPA from a craft brewery a couple of hundred km up the coast from here, ideal for a hot summer day because of the refreshing taste. Relatively modest alcohol at 6% but lots of body and taste, with an IBU of 50. The beer is unpasteurized. Bought at the local Consum supermarket, tasted at home (August 2019).
  • On Cloud 9 Oat Cream IPA (Jakobsland Brewers, Santiago de Compostela). Another excellent product from this brewery, and one that I could buy right here in Alicante! From the description on the can: “This DIPA features 3 fruit forward hops: Ekuanot, Azacca and Vic Secret, with aromas and flavours of papaya, pineapple, and mango. Laid on top of a fluffy cloud of oats with a hint of milk sugar for the creamiest mouthfeel ever. We fermented it on British yeast for its stone fruit flavours and aromas.” Maybe a bit over the top, but this is certainly a very nice, powerful IPA with the usual bitterness counterbalanced by fruit. At 8% this is no small beer but the alcohol is worth it. Bought at Beershooters Alicante, tasted at home (August 2019).

 

UNITED KINDGOM

  • Hardcore IPA (Brewdog, Scotland)
  • Jaipur IPA (Thornbridge, Derbyshire, England
  • Samuel Smith Old Brewery Pale Ale (Samuel Smith Brewery, Yorkshire, England)
  • St. Peter’s India Pale Ale (St. Peter’s Brewery, Suffolk, England)
  • Dead Pony Club Californian Pale Ale (Brewdog, Scotland)–at 3.8% alcohol, this beer has the highest taste/alcohol ratio I have ever experienced!
  • Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale (Samuel Smith Brewery, Yorkshire, England)–another beer with lots of taste and relatively low alcohol, at 5%. Vegan.
  • Welsh Pride Bottle Conditioned Ale (Conwy Brewery, North Wales)–another refreshing ale with a high taste-to-alcohol ratio, at just 4%. Vegan. Tasted in Cardiff.
  • Greene King IPA Gold (Greene King, Edmunds, Suffolk, England). Not really a proper IPA, but a nice refreshing ale with good taste, especially considering that it has only 4.1% alcohol. Bought at Expats in Villajoyosa and tasted at home (October 2014).
  • Bethnal Pale Ale (Redchurch Brewery, East London). A nice hoppy beer, another one of those ales which pack a lot of flavour into a relatively low-alcohol (5.5%) package. Tasted at a pub off Charing Cross Road, London (March 2015).
  • Samuel Smith India Ale (Samuel Smith Brewery, Yorkshire, England). A classic IPA. Nice-sized bottle (550 ml), good for quenching thirst, particularly since it packs a modest 5% alcohol. It is also vegan, relevant for my daughter. Bought at Rincón de la Cerveza in Elche, tasted at home (April 2015).
  • India Pale Weizen (BrewDog, Scotland). This is a collaboration between BrewDog and Weihenstephan, one of the oldest breweries in Germany. As the name implies, the beer is a cross between an IPA and a wheat beer. The contribution from the wheat is most evident in the nose–the taste is closer to a standard IPA, with a nice, bitter tone. Rather high in alcohol at 6.2%, especially since wheat beers are usually low in alcohol. Bought at Habemus Birra, Alicante, tasted at home (April 2015).
  • Proper Job Cornish IPA (St Austell Brewery, Cornwall). A classic IPA, with just the right amount of bitterness and fruit. Perfectly balanced. Coupled with its modest alcohol content, 5.5%, this beer is a winner. Bought at the Gourmet Experience, Corte Inglés, Alicante. Tasted at home (December 2015).
  • Punk IPA (BrewDog, Scotland). A friend recently pointed out to me that I have omitted this standard from the list, and indeed it is a serious omission considering that this is probably the best-known BrewDog product. Punk IPA sets the standard for all other modern IPAs. On the label it claims to be a “post-modern classic” and it is hard to argue with it. It combines great IPA characteristics and balance with a modest 5.6% alcohol level. This is the IPA to drink every day if one is so inclined. Bought (most recently) at Beershooter Alicante, tasted at home (January 2016).
  • Jackhammer Ruthless India Pale Ale (BrewDog, Scotland). As the name implies, this is a potent beer. It is more powerful than the Punk IPA in every respect–more body, more intense taste, more alcohol (7.2%). This is one of those beers that you only drink one of during an evening. Bought  at Beershooter Alicante, tasted at home (March 2016).
  • Ragnarok Imperial Jarl Double IPA (Fyne Ales, Achadunan, Scotland). The name suggests wildness and power, and this beer certainly has both. Lots of hops, lots of bitterness, 7.4% alcohol–this is beer for serious drinkers in every sense of the word. Bought at Habemus Birra, Alicante, tasted at home (July 2016)
  • Jack Brand Crystal Rye IPA (Adnams, Southwold, Suffolk, England). According to the label, this is a beer made with four kinds of hops and rye malt and yields 60 IBU.  It is descibed as “a fin ale with big, bold, citrus, pine and subtle toffee flavours; robust, smooth and full-bodied.” I found it a pretty accurate description. My own tasting notes do indicate a hint of sweetness, and certainly the hopiness is not overpowering. A very refreshing, nice beer, at a modest 5% alcohol. Bought at Tesco in Cardiff, tasted in Oxford (September 2016).
  • Marmalade On Rye (Tempest Brewing Co., Tweedbank, Scottish Borders). Really eccentric label. The ingredients are listed as barley, rye, oranges, ginger and hops. The taste is extremely well balanced, with just the right mix of bitterness and sweetness. Very easy to drink, but watch out–it carries a whopping 9% alcohol. Bought at Habemus Birra, tasted at home (September 2016).
  • Island Hopper Pale Ale (Windsor & Eton Brewery, Berkshire). This ale is specially brewed for Marks & Spencer, kind of like a store brand. I found it very pleasant and refreshing, an ideal ale for a hot day. The usual characteristics–hoppiness, body–are light and will never stand up to, say, a Punk IPA, but at only 4.5% alcohol, this is not a bad trade-off. Bought at Marks & Spencer in Gibraltar, tasted at home (October 2016).
  • Yardbird Pale Ale (Greene King Brewery, Edmunds, Suffolk, England). The back label describes this beer as “brisk, hoppy and not too strong” and I find this very accurate. This is one of those great beers that combine a good dose of flavour and the typical IPA character (but not overwhelming as in the most robust West Coast ales) with a low alcohol content, at 4%. I will be looking for it back home. Bought and tasted in Milan, Italy (December 2016).
  • Brewdog Hoppy Christmas Festive IPA (Brewdog, Scotland). A Christmas ale with balls in every sense of the word. Powerful combination of fruit and bitterness, paired with 7.2% alcohol. This is the beer for the cold winter evening, indeed. A masterpiece of the craft, like all Brewdog products. Bought at Habemus Birra in Alicante, tasted at home (December 2016).
  • Marston’s Owd Rodger Country Ale (Marston’s Brewery, Burton-upon-Trent, England). Not an IPA but a delicious ale nonetheless, with a nice fruity flavour that does a good job of masking its 7.4% alcohol. According to the label, the recipe is more than 500 years old. My kind of historical research! Bought at Expats in Villajoyosa, tasted at home (August 2017).

ITALY

  • Noscia Ambrata (Maltovivo, Ponte). Unfiltered, artisanal ale from northern Italy. The best Italian beer I have ever tasted. Good body, 6%. Tasted in Gavirate, Italy (October 2013).
  • Baladin Rock n’Roll American Pale Ale. This is a mild IPA–fresh and delicious, albeit with alcohol content on the high side, at 7.5%. Still, it was very enjoyable and went well with my food. Tasted at a restaurant in Milan, Italy (December 2016).

CANADA

  • The Barn Raiser Country Ale (Oast House Brewers, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario). A wonderful, handmade organic ale from a brewery nestled in the wine country of southern Ontario. Lots of taste for the 5% alcohol. Tasted at the brewery (August 2014).
  • Hopbot IPA (Hop City Brewing Co., Brampton, St. John). This is probably the ugliest label I have seen, with a stupid-looking robot at the centre. But the contents of the bottle more than compensate the label. Quoting the back label: “Programmed with 5 West Coast American hops, Hopbot IPA brings out waves of absurd citrus and tropical aroma and flavour. The hops provide 70 IBUs which are perfectly balanced by a solid malt backbone.” The beer really lives up to the hype. It is strong, 7.1%, but really the taste justifies the alcohol. Bought at Beershooters Alicante, tasted at home (December 2015).
  • Black IPA (Brasserie Dunham, Quebec). A very interesting beer, a cross between a stout and an IPA. A whopping 95 IBU but a moderate 5.7% alcohol. It grew on me as I drank it slowly. Bought at Beershooters Alicante, tasted at home (June 2016).

DENMARK

  • Jacobsen India Pale Ale (Carsberg, Copenhagen). Not the greatest of the IPAs listed here, but possibly the nicest beer Carlsberg makes (along with their Jacobsen Brown Ale). At 6.6% it is on the strong side but it has a nice, refreshing taste to go with it. Bought at Copenhagen airport and tasted at home (November 2014).
  • Marstal India Pale Ale (Rise Bryggeri, Ærøskøbing). A nice, balanced ale from a small brewery on the island of Ærø. Not very bitter, nice aroma, quite far from the West Coast hoppiness. At 5.5% alcohol, it is nice and refreshing. Bought at a Fakta supermarket in Aarhus, tasted at my friend Lars’s home (April 2016).
  • India Pale Ale VSD (Very Special Delivery) (Thisted Bryghus). A West Coast style ale from an excellent brewery in northern Jutland, with powerful hoppiness, lots of IBU (the exact number is not indicated). Lots of punch for its 5.9% alcohol. Bought at Føtex in Aarhus, tasted at my friend Lars’s home (April 2016).
  • Mikkeller Stateside IPA (Mikkeller Brewery, Copenhagen). I am not sure if I should classify this beer under Denmark or Belgium. While it is sold under the Mikkeller brand, it is actually brewed at De Proef Brouwerij in the small town of Lochristi in Flanders. In any event, it is a nice, well-balanced IPA, perhaps a bit on the bitter side but in a pleasant way. It falls down a bit on the alcohol-to-taste ratio, as it has 6.9% alcohol. But overall, a worthwhile addition to the list. Bought at Habemus Birra, tasted at home (May 2016).
  • Viking IPA (Bryghuset Braunstein, Køge). This is a very pleasant, organic IPA with good balance (perhaps slightly on the bitter side but not in an objectionable manner) and a reasonable 6% alcohol content. Comes in convenient 1/2 liter bottles 🙂 Bought at Copenhagen Airport, tasted at home (November 2016).
  • Thy IPA (Thisted Bryghus). A lovely, well-balanced IPA from the excellent brewery in northern Jutland that consistently produces some of Denmark’s best beer. Unfiltered, not too bitter, really just perfect, and a good taste-to-alcohol ratio at 6.6%. Tasted at my friend Lars’s home in Aarhus (April 2018).

BELGIUM

  • Blanche de Charleroi (Brasserie Ada, Gozée). This is not actually an IPA. It is a Belgian wheat beer. I expected something similar to a Blanche de Namur or Hoegaarden Blanche, but instead I was met with an almost-IPA taste and lots of body, at only 5% alcohol. A delicious surprise from the country with the best beer in the world. Bought at Carrefour in Alicante, tasted at home (January 2015).
  • Delta Belgian IPA (Brussels Beer Project). A fantastic find. Brussels Beer Project is a cooperative. In its own words, they aim to co-create atypical beers with people who love drinking them. This beer delivers a perfect IPA experience, at 6.5% alcohol and 45 IBU. One of my Belgian favourite beers from now on. Bought at Delhaize on Place Jean Rey in Brussels, tasted at the Aloft Hotel (January 2016).
  • Vedett Extra Ordinary IPA (Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat, Puurs). A rather immodest name, but it delivers. This brewery makes one of the best Belgian blonde beers, Duvel, a strong brew at almost 9%. Their venture into IPA is much milder, at 5.5%, but it packs a lot of taste into that mild package. There is a subtle sour mash note of some sort. A very pleasant IPA indeed. Bought at Habemus Birra in Alicante, tasted at home (February 2016).
  • Tjeeses Reserva X-Mas Ale (Struise, Oostvleteren). Not an IPA but an ale. But what an ale! This is powerful stuff by any measure: 10% alcohol, 100 IBUs, 317 calories. The beer is aged in bourbon barrels, which gives it a delicious sweetness that balances perfectly with the bitterness and the hops. This is the kind of beer to finish off the evening. Certainly no other beer can be consumed after this one–anything else will taste watery. Bought in New York by my son’s girlfriend, tasted at home (July 2016).
  • Holy IPA (Novabirra, Braine L’Alleud). A beer from just south of Brussels, near Waterloo. One of the most pleasant IPAs I have tasted in a long time. A bit bitter when first poured, mellows significantly once exposed to air. The label speaks of Chinook and Mosaic whole leaf hops, whatever that means. But it is delicious, and at 6.5% alcohol, mild for a Belgian beer. Bought in a Brussels supermarket, tasted at Thon hotel in Brussels (June 2017).
  • Duvel Tripel Hop Citra (Brasserie Duvel Moorgaat, Puurs). I tried this one with some expectation, as the regular Duvel is one of my standard Belgian beers. But this IPA does not completely live up to the promise. Yes, it has the usual characteristics and is pleasant enough to drink, but in a beer that carries 9.5% alcohol, one expects something extra. As it is, the same or better IPA experience can be had from ales that are 3% lower than this one. Tasted at my friend Lars’s home in Aarhus (April 2018).

GERMANY

  • Golden Sud IPA (Riedenburger Brauhaus, Riedenburg). A very special IPA: it is German, it is vegan, and it is organic (with an added assurance on the back label of being GMO-free). It is brewed according to the German purity law. The taste is mild and soft, with just enough of the IPA bitterness to make it a true IPA, and at 6.5% alcohol the alcohol/taste ratio is reasonable too. Bought and tasted at the Veganz supermarket in Berlin (June 2015).
  • Stone IPA (Stone Brewing GmbH,Berlin). The beer is described as the “epitome of a West Coast IPA.” And it is indeed an accurate description. It has the kind of hoppiness and oomph that one finds in IPAs from California. And at 6.9% it has the alcohol to match. It is nicely balanced. In the end it does not offer anything that is not found in the offerings of Sierra Nevada, for instance, but it is nice to have this kind of beer from Berlin. Bought at Beershooters Alicante, tasted at home (March 2017).
  • Maisel & Friends India Pale Ale (Brauerei Gebr. Maisel, Bayreuth). The label has another interpretation of the IPA abbreviation: “intense, pure, awesome”. It is indeed a very nice beer, balanced and refreshing. At 50 IBU and 6.3% alcohol it is a proper IPA. The bitterness is well balanced by slight fruit flavour. The beer is brewed according to the Bavarian Purity Law, proving that this law, restricting the ingredients in beer to the four basic ones (water, hops, barley malt, yeast) does not prevent creative brewers from making interesting beers. Overall, one of the better ales on this list. Bought at El Corte Inglés Alicante, tasted at home (February 2018).
NORWAY
  • Lervig Oat IPA (Wervik Aktiebryggeri, Stavanger). The first Norwegian entry here. It advertises that it is brewed with some special hops, called Nelson Sauvin. I have no idea what these are, but certainly it is a very nice IPA, although a bit on the strong side at 7.2%. Bought at Habemus Birra in Alicante, tasted at home (March 2016).
  • Humle Kanon India Pale Ale (Haandbryggeriet, Drammen). Another powerful Norwegian IPA, checking in at 7.5% and a whopping 160 IBU. It is described as a “living beer, not pasteurized and not filtered” so you can feel really good about drinking it. The name means “hope canon”.  Despite the whopping alcohol and IBU, this beer is easy to drink and very balanced. Bought at Habemus Birra in Alicante, tasted at home (September 2016).
  • Brewers Reserve Rye IPA (Wervik Aktiebryggeri, Stavanger). A second entry from the Wervik brewery in Stavanger. This is a full-blooded IPA, with in excess of 100 IBU (that is as precise as the label gets) and 8.5% alcohol. A real Viking beer. Bought at Beershooters Alicante, tasted at home (February 2017).
NETHERLANDS
  • Brouwerij ‘t Ij IPA (Brouwerij ‘t Ij, Amsterdam). A nice beer with all the IPA characteristics, but in a soft way. The first Dutch IPA on the list. At 7%, it is on the strong side but very pleasant drinking.  Bought at Gall & Gall at Schiphol, tasted in Amsterdam (April 2016).
  • Kees Session IPA (Brouwerij Kees, Middelburg). This is probably the best taste/alcohol ratio I have ever encountered. This beer carries only 3.5% alcohol, but this is a full-bodied IPA with 70 IBU! A real find that I really wish I could have back home. Bought at Albert Heijn in Rotterdam, tasted in Rotterdam (April 2016).
  • Vuur & Vlam IPAish (Brouwerij De Molen, Bodegraven). This is a well-balanced IPA, with a light taste for its 63 IBU and 6.2% alcohol, but very pleasant to drink indeed. Bought at Albert Heijn in Rotterdam, tasted in Rotterdam (April 2016).
  • Carrie Strong IPA (Kaapse Brouwers, Rotterdam). A powerful IPA despite only 39 IBU. Many kinds of hops, in perfect combination. Well worth its 6.5% alcohol. Bought at Habemus Birra in Alicante, tasted at home (May 2016).
  • Karel American Bitter (Kaapse Brouwers, Rotterdam). As the name implies, this is not an IPA. But it is still worthy of inclusion here, because it has a lot of IPA characteristics, including the hoppiness and a nice bitterness (46 IBU). And a modest alcohol content, 4.9%, makes this a perfect summer beer for those who want something more serious than a boring lager. Bought at Habemus Birra in Alicante, tasted at home (June 2016).
FRANCE
  • Kékette Large (Brasseurs de Gayant, Douai). Not an IPA, but it made me think of one when I tasted it just now. One the back label it is described as having an aroma of coriander and orange peel, and indeed there is a very light sweetness to the nose and taste. It is fairly hoppy, and well balanced at 6.2% alcohol. A nice first entry from France on this list.  Bought at a supermarket in Le Mans, tasted at home (July 2016).
MALTA
  • Lord Chambray San Blas English IPA (Lord Chambray brewery, Gozo). The first entry from Malta, a small country with some excellent wines but not much of a beer tradition. However, this IPA from a small brewery is quite nice, on the bitter side but with modest alcohol at 5.7%, and quite refreshing. The beer is all unpasteurized and fermented in the bottle.  Bought at Malta International Airport, tasted at home (March 2017).

POLAND

  • Czar Góry India Pale Ale (Browar Jabłonowo).  The first entry from the country where I was born. The craft beer movement is at best nascent in Poland, but this beer comes from an independent brewery in a small town, so it qualifies. The IPA character is very mild; I miss some of the bitterness and bite of a West Coast IPA, but it is pleasant nonetheless, and at 6% alcohol, the taste/alcohol ratio is good. Bought at the Biedronka supermarket in Wrocław, tasted at my sister’s apartment in Wrocław (June 2017).
  • Polish Hop(e) (Browar Maryensztadt, Zwolen). A delightfully hoppy beer at only 5.5%. Unpausterized, unfliltered, brewed with hops grown in the vicinity of the brewery. A great small-town product, with a great taste/alcohol ratio. Bought at the Delikatesy supermarket in the Grunwaldzki shopping centre, tasted at my sister’s apartment in Wroclaw (January 2018).
  • Double IPA Cieszyńskie (Browar Zamkowy, Cieszyn). A nice, well balanced beer. Deceptively easy to drink, at 8% alcohol one needs to exercise some care. The IBU is not stated, but I would estimate it at around 30-40. Very pleasant. Bought at the Feniks department store in Wrocław, tasted at my sister’s apartment (June 2018). Bought again at Wrocław airport and tasted at home (September 2019)–I still like it.

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