Hazy IPA: Everything You Need to Know

Hazy IPA

The burgeoning craft beer movement is already more than a couple of decades old, and one of the most popular styles that has help drive and sustain it is the IPA, the hop explosion that developed from a beer first brewed in 19th-century England.

The IPA has become such a fixture of the craft beer scene that’s it’s now considered more of a staple than something fresh and exciting. But craft brewing is all about challenging expectations and searching for the Next Big Thing, something that has given rise to an irreverent child of Indian Pale Ale, the hazy IPA.

Loved and loathed in equal measures, this is a beer that divides purists and casual drinkers alike – so here, we discuss the question of what is a hazy IPA?

If you want a preview of some of the stuff we’re going to be talking about, you can also check out this video before reading on.

What is a Hazy IPA?

A hazy IPA is easy to recognize due to its cloudy nature – which, unsurprisingly, is why it is so named. There are many takes on this relative newcomer to the craft beer scene, but something they all share is haziness.

The other part of the name is a giveaway, too. Hazy IPAs are IPAs – and as such, the most prominent feature of their flavor profile is hoppiness.

That said, another sought-after characteristic of hazy IPAs is fruitiness, often coming closer to the flavor of an orange juice than a traditional IPA. The turbid nature of the drink also tends to take the edge off the more extreme hoppiness of a regular IPA, making them a more accessible option for those who don’t ordinarily enjoy IPA.

In the world of craft beer aficionados – and beer snobs – these facts alone are enough to stir up plenty of acrimonious controversies, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Before we even begin to talk about any of that, let’s give ourselves a little history lesson to remind ourselves where the hazy IPA came from in the first place.

A bit of beer history

Hazy IPA History

The story of IPA starts in 17th-century England when people began using coke to dry-roast malt. This lightly roasted malt produced a paler style of beer that, by the turn of the century had acquired the name “pale ale”.

At some point, a more generously hopped version of pale ale was produced that proved popular with traders exporting beer to England’s most prized colonial possession, India.

It was found that the extra hops helped the beer survive the long sea voyage, which could take up to six months – and not only that, it was discovered that the time at sea actually seemed to improve the beer.

Whether the extra hops were put into the beer deliberately to make it easier to transport to India or whether it was just a fortuitous discovery is still debated (it was probably the latter), but for our present purposes, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that this strongly hopped type of pale ale was shipped to India in increasing quantities, quickly becoming known as India Pale Ale – or IPA.

Subsequently, demand for this new kind of beer grew throughout the British Empire, including back in England itself – and it enjoyed considerable popularity right up to the First World War.

IPA and the American craft beer revolution

IPA and the American craft beer revolution

Following the war, IPA went into decline in the UK. It never completely disappeared, but it became more of a niche drink than a mainstream tipple.

However, by the 1970s, it began to undergo a renaissance on both sides of the Atlantic. A growing appreciation of Real Ale in Britain saw a resurgence in IPA’s popularity while in the US, the nascent craft beer movement saw brewers taking a new interest in older, largely forgotten styles of beer.

And IPA was a beer that American craft brewers found particularly suited their ethos of experimentation and innovation.

They began brewing IPAs using American hops rather than traditional European ones, something that imparts a much more fruity, citrus flavor to the beer, and IPA quickly established itself as the darling of the craft beer world.

America’s love affair with hops had begun.

A new style of IPA hits the scene

The American IPA pioneers were located on the West Coast, and for this reason, the dominant style of American IPA – quite distinct from its Anglo-Indian progenitor – came to be known as West Coast IPA.

It is characterized by a strong hoppiness and usually – but not always – a higher ABV than many other beers, usually in the 5.5-7.5% range and sometimes higher.

However, the hops explosion of a West Coast IPA – and the hops nuclear blast of its other unruly offspring, the double IPA – may be too much for the palates of some, which leaves space for something a little mellower. Enter the hazy IPA.

The first brewers to come up with something we would recognize as hazy IPA hailed form Vermont – which is why this style is also known as New England IPA – but these creative brewers weren’t trying to invent a cloudy beer.

They were trying to produce something with a gentler hoppy flavor and plenty of fruitiness, and the opaque aspect of the beer, the characteristic for which it has since become known, was a side effect the brewing process rather than the aim.

Where does the haze come from?

Where does the hazy IPA come from

Without going too deep into the science and art of brewing, there are a few reasons why beers can be cloudy.

With hazy IPA, this cloudiness comes from colloidal haze from dry hopping – which means adding extra hops after the yeast has taken care of fermentation.

This is done mainly to add aroma to the beer, but it also adds particulate matter which remains suspended in the liquid, creating haze.

Part of the cloudiness also comes from what is known as “low-flocculating yeast”. This is yeast that doesn’t clump together, rise to the top or sink to the bottom, something else that also contributes to the hazy appearance.

If you want to know more about the long version of the science behind the haziness, check out this video for more info.

Often, turbid beers like this are filtered, but brewers making hazy IPAs claim that this would alter the flavor profile, making the beer more overtly hoppy and less fruity – in short, much more like a regular IPA.

Another way of saying this is that if you filter a hazy IPA, it’s no longer a hazy IPA, but not because it loses its haziness – it’s because it doesn’t taste like one anymore.

The hazy IPA controversy

Now we get to the part where opinion is divided: for some, they’re the sourdough of the beer world; for others, they’re an abomination, a “beer” for people who don’t like drinking beer.

The problem is, they can be so fruity that some purists argue they don’t taste like beer at all. This leads detractors to ask, if you like orange juice, why not just drink orange juice? Why do you need to drink a beer that tastes like orange juice?

Perhaps this comes down to individual taste, but it also depends on the beer.

A hazy IPA should be well balanced, and “balance” is the key word. The flavor should be complex enough to take you on a journey, allowing you to explore the different flavors contained within each sip and within each glass.

This is what a good hazy IPA can do, but a less refined one may be very one-dimensional and uninspiring. So basically, more like drinking a glass of OJ, and that’s never going to win any plaudits with the connoisseurs.

But then if your palate isn’t accustomed to beer and you hate regular IPA but love your hazy, who are the beer snobs to tell you you can’t drink it?

Adding flour to beer?

Adding flour to beer

The second accusation leveled at hazy IPA is that brewers have lost sight of the original concept and are chasing haziness in itself, promoting the cloudy appearance above any other characteristics.

As one of the hottest craft beer styles of the moment – and one that is eminently Instagramable – some brewers have sought to cash in on the coolness factor of the beer while allowing the taste to become more of an afterthought.

In some cases, brewers have even begun adding questionable ingredients – overtly or surreptitiously – to increase the opacity of their brew.

And when it comes to the point of adding things like flour to make beer murkier, many draw the line.

Beer is supposed to be a drink, and brewing it is an art – but the art is in producing a complex and balanced brew full of subtle flavors, not in producing a turbid but photogenic glass of liquid that just looks good on social media.

At least so the argument goes. We’ll let you decide.

A brew worth trying

Hazy IPA is a relative newcomer to the scene, and as such, its brewers are still finding their feet. It was only recognized as a distinct style by the Brewers Association as recently as 2018, so it is unsurprising that there are still many bad ones – along with a few good ones too.

Our advice is to try a selection before passing judgment since the first one to pass your lips may not be the finest example. However, hazy IPA certainly has its fans – as well as many converts from among the more skeptical – so try to keep an open mind until you’ve sampled enough to judge fairly.

India Pale Ale (IPA) vs. Double IPA (DIPA): What’s the Difference?

In the increasingly fashionable world of craft beer, one style now enjoys almost unrivaled popularity, making it the undisputed darling of the movement: the IPA.

Deliciously hopped and often packing a respectable alcoholic punch, IPA lends itself particularly well to craft beer production due to the scope it offers for experimentation and creativity.

However, in the last decade or so, a new kid has shown up on the block. An edgy, elusive beer that defies precise definition, the Double IPA – also known as Imperial IPA or sometimes “DIPA” – has steadily been building a following and making a name for itself.

So, to help you understand what all the fuss is about, here we answer the question, IPA vs. Double IPA – What’s the Difference?

For a preview of some of the stuff we’re going to be talking about, you might also be interested in checking out this video before reading on.

How do you brew beer?

Before we talk about brewing double IPA – or just regular IPA for that matter – it will help if we take a few moments to remind ourselves how beer is produced in the first place.

In the simplest terms, beer is made by fermenting starch sugars, which usually come from malted barley, although other cereal grains can also be used.

The malt is boiled in water to release the starch sugars, creating a liquid called wort. Hops, a natural preservative, are usually then added to balance the sweet flavor of the malt as well as to help prevent the beer from spoiling.

Yeast is then added when the mixture cools, which ferments the sugars, turning them to alcohol and transforming the wort into one of the world’s oldest and most popular beverages, beer.

What is IPA(India Pale Ale)?

India Pale Ale(IPA)

That’s the basics of brewing – so how do you brew an IPA?

IPA – which stands for India Pale Ale – evolved from pale ale, something that was already being brewed in 17th-century England, although people didn’t start referring to it by that name until the turn of the following century.

Back then, dark beers like porter were popular, but when brewers began using malts that were more lightly roasted using coke (a type of processed coal), a much paler beer resulted, hence the name.

Fast forward another hundred years, and the British Empire was reaching its zenith. The vast “empire upon which the sun never set” boasted colonial possessions around the world, and among these, India was preeminent.

A steady stream of ships plied the route between England and India, undergoing a journey of four to six months to carry all manner of goods between the Indian colonies and the motherland, including shipments of beer.

One type of beer that survived the voyage particularly well was a type of generously hopped pale ale.

The traders soon realized that, rather than spoiling during the journey, this type of beer actually benefited from the long sea voyage, and demand for it in India quickly grew.

This demand then spread to other British possessions, and the beer was also greatly sought-after in England itself.

This hoppy style of beer soon acquired the moniker “India Pale Ale” – IPA – and it remained popular throughout the British Empire right up to the First World War.

IPA(India Pale Ale) and the craft beer revolution

After enjoying great popularity for many years, IPA began to fall out of favor from the beginning of the 20th century.

Although it never disappeared entirely, it became far less common and was gradually supplanted in Britain by continental-style lagers.

However, from the 1970s, it began to undergo a renaissance on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Britain, interest in “real ale” began to take hold, and IPA began to make a comeback.

At the same time, with the nascent craft beer movement in the US, especially on the West Coast, creative brewers began experimenting with older, almost forgotten beers styles.

In particular, American craft brewers began brewing IPAs coupled with American hop varieties while also incorporating new brewing techniques into their production.

As a result, a unique type of American IPA appeared that was quite distinct from its British progenitor, and it is this style that has since become the poster boy for the whole American craft brewing movement.

There are now two major well-established IPA styles in the US. The first is known as West Coast IPA, a highly hopped, crisp beer with fruity citrus notes; the second, New England IPA, is an unfiltered cloudy version that sometimes goes by the name of hazy IPA.

There are also some other less famous or less clearly defined American IPAs, of which the best known is East Coast IPA.

So what’s a double IPA(DIPA)?

double ipa

In this atmosphere of creativity and experimentation, with brewers constantly striving to push boundaries and test what was possible, it is hardly surprising that somebody began to wonder, since hops are so popular, what would happen if we throw in a whole load more?

And that’s more or less what happened.

However, the thing about hops is that they are extremely bitter, and just adding more hops is a sure way to spoil your brew.

If you want more hops – and you want a beer that you can actually drink – you need to be able to balance the bitter hoppiness by using more malt.

But if you add more malt, in simple terms, you have more sugar, and that will lead to a higher alcohol content.

It’s not an easy balance to find, but if you get it right, a double IPA gives you more of everything.

They take longer to brew, they offer more hoppy bitterness, they have deeper malty undertones…and they contain more alcohol – double IPAs usually come in at around the 7.5-10% ABV mark.

In other words, double IPAs are big and boisterous hop explosions that also pack enough booze to knock your socks off.

What’s the flavor profile of a double IPA(DIPA)?

As we have already alluded, double IPA is a relative newcomer to the scene, and as such, a clear and generally accepted definition has yet to be established.

In fact, there is some controversy over the naming of this beer since, although descended from IPA, some would claim that this is an entirely new beer style that deserves its own name, perhaps one that references its Californian origins.

Furthermore, although double IPA is a distinctly American creation, due to the global influence of the craft brewing movement in the US, brewers around the world have also begun experimenting with the double IPA style.

The result of all this is that when it comes to double IPAs, it’s still almost a case of “anything goes”, and any extra-hoppy beer can be given the title of “double IPA”.

Of course, when taking your first sip of a double IPA, you expect to be met by the unmistakable bitterness of the hops.

This is likely to be the predominant flavor of the beer, and if it is one brewed using American hops, you can also expect plenty of fruity notes, especially citrus, along with pine and even flowers.

Due to the extra malt required to balance the hops, you are likely to be able to detect stronger undercurrents of malt too. Double IPAs are usually medium bodied, and in terms of appearance, often have a deep amber or rich golden color.

However, since this style hasn’t been around for long and is still at the forefront of brewing innovation, you can also expect to find many variations on these flavor profiles – although drinking a double IPA will always be an intense experience.

What’s an Imperial IPA?

You will sometimes also see beers labeled as “Imperial IPA”, but this is simply another term for a double.

This appellation derives from the late 19th century when strong English stout was brewed for export to the Russian court. These beers were typically stronger than average, and it has been suggested that they were brewed with a higher alcohol content to help them survive the journey.

This is almost certainly false, however. The truth is far simpler – they were brewed stronger because the Russians just preferred drinking stronger beer!

In any case, following this usage, double IPAs are also sometimes referred to as Imperial IPAs to indicate their higher alcohol content.

You may also occasionally hear people claiming that “double IPA” refers to the fact that “Imperial IPA” has two “I”s, effectively giving us “IIPA”.

This is not correct, however. When we talk about a double IPA, we are using “double” in the same way as “double” (or “dubbel”) is used in the Trappist brewing tradition – and not because Imperial IPA has two “I”s.

An exciting all-American take on the IPA

In American culture, bigger is often seen as better, and as a beer that packs in more hops, more malt, more bitterness and, of course, more alcohol, the double IPA fits perfectly into this tradition.

If you’ve tried a “regular” IPA and were delighted by the distinctive enhanced hoppiness that often comes as a surprise the first time it’s experienced, you may well enjoy taking things up a notch and sampling a double. For some, this might be one step too far – but for others, the intense hops explosion of a double is the ultimate IPA experience.

Pale Ale vs IPA: What’s the Difference?

Pale Ale vs IPA

Pale Ale vs IPA What's the Difference

In recent years, with the explosion of the craft beer movement, suddenly we are hearing all kinds of terms that we might have been unfamiliar with before. This is a good thing because the limited assortment of tasteless and characterless beers we were once used to has been replaced by a wealth of interesting and complex beverages for us to try.

However, if you want to understand more about the beers you are drinking, as a novice beer connoisseur, this means you have a whole new vocabulary to learn. To help, in this post, we introduce two common beer terms you are likely to come across as we explain pale ale vs IPA.

For a preview of some of the stuff we’re going to be talking about, you can also check out this video before reading on.

How is beer made?

Before we talk about pale ale and IPA, it may help if we take a step back and remind ourselves how beer is made in the first place.

The art of brewing beer can be intricate and complicated, and there is almost limitless scope for experimentation – which is at the heart of the craft beer movement – but in the most basic terms, it is relatively simple to understand.

In essence, beer is brewed by using yeast to ferment starch sugars from cereal grains.

The most common source of starch sugars is malted barley, although other grains can also be used.

First, crushed malt is mixed with hot water to convert the starch to sugars, and the resulting liquid is known as wort.

Next, the wort is boiled to evaporate off the water and to kill any remaining enzymes, and hops are usually also added. Hops serve the dual purpose of acting as a preservative while also counterbalancing the sweetness of the wort with their natural bitterness.

After this, the wort is cooled and the yeast is added to ferment the wort, turning it into beer.

So what is pale ale?

Pale Ale

What we’ve just described above is a simplified overview of the brewing process, and many possible variations are possible, providing us with an almost bewildering array of possible styles.

But what exactly is pale ale? And how do you make it?

Pale ales have existed for centuries and were brewed at least as far back as the 17th century.

Back then, beers were usually brewed with darker malts, resulting in a dark colored beer, but from around the middle of the 17th century, people began dry-roasting malt with coke (a type of processed coal, not a sugary soft drink!), and this lighter malt produced a lighter colored beer.

It appears that by around the beginning of the 18th century, people had started referring to these beers as “pale ales”, and the first known advertisement using this term was published in the Calcutta Gazette of 1784, offering “light and excellent” pale ales.

The pale ales of the day contained more hops than other popular beers, which gave rise to another popular term, “bitter”, that was also used to describe this style of beer.

Pale ales have remained more or less popular ever since, “pale ale” is a term that can now be applied to a wide range of related but varying styles.

However, what pale ales all have in common is that they are generally made with pale malts and are usually brewed with top-fermenting yeasts.

How about IPA?

IPA Beer

One extremely fashionable member of the pale ale tribe is IPA – or India Pale Ale.

IPA has its own long and interesting history, but the short version is that it was a type of well-hopped pale ale that became popular with traders plying the route between England and India from around the mid-19th century.

Since, as we have already seen, hops is a natural preservative, these beers were especially suited for the arduous sea journey that could take between four and six months.

It is unlikely that these beers were specially formulated for export to India. However, the six-month voyage by ship was found to actually improve the quality of the beer, and as a result, it became much sought-after in the British Empire’s most prized colony.

This style of beer subsequently became known as India Pale Ale and quickly gained favor not only in India but also in other parts of the British Empire – as well as in England itself.

What is IPA today?

IPA remained popular until the First World War, but after that, it gradually fell out of favor as continental-style lagers increased in popularity.

However, from around the 1970s with the incipient craft beer movement, brewers and drinkers on both sides of the Atlantic began to take notice of this half-forgotten beer once again.

On the East Coast of the US in particular, where brewers were becoming interested in reviving and experimenting with beer styles that had gone out of fashion, IPA became a particular favorite.

Rather than using traditional European hops, they began incorporating American hops varieties into the brewing process, creating IPAs with fresh and exciting new flavor profiles.

IPA is now inarguably the darling of the craft beer community, and the two most recognizable styles in the US are East Coast IPA, a crisp, citrus beer, and New England IPA, an unfiltered beer characterized by its cloudy appearance.

On the other side of The Pond, in the UK, Brewdog’s Punk IPA has established itself as the most popular craft-style beer in the country.

Are there any other types of pale ale to look out for?

other types of pale ale

As we have seen, a “pale ale” is a broad term that can be applied to a range of beers, and IPA is just one example. So are there any others that are worth looking out for?

In short, yes, there are plenty of others. Here are a few of the most interesting ones to look out for.

Blonde

A style of beer that is especially popular in France and Belgium, they are characterized by a light color and a crisp taste with a light bitter hoppiness. Some of the most famous examples from Belgium include Duvel, Leffe and Grimbergen.

The usual alcohol content of blondes is around 5% – although at 8.5%, Duvel is a much stronger example.

English bitter

When pale ale first appeared in England, the terms “pale ale” and “bitter” were used interchangeably to distinguish the style from other beers like porters and milds.

With time, brewers began using the term “bitter” exclusively for cask beers while “pale ale” was reserved for those in bottles.

In the UK, these beers are commonly found in traditional pubs where they are “pulled” from a cask. They are usually served at close to room temperature rather than chilled like lagers.

Burton Pale Ale

Burton upon Trent, a town in the north of England, is blessed with a water source that is particularly suited to the brewing of pale ales due to its high gypsum content.

Burton was a center for the brewing of pale ales – as well as IPAs for export to India and elsewhere – until a way was discovered to replicate the water conditions chemically in the 19th century.

Even after brewers began to refer to pale ales in casks as “bitter”, pale ale from Burton continued to be known as Burton Pale Ale.

American Pale Ale

American Pale Ale first appeared in the 1980s as part of the craft beer movement when American brewers began to experiment with local ingredients such as local varieties of hops.

There is some crossover between an American IPA and an American Pale Ale, but the distinction is in the amount of hoppiness in the flavor. A more heavily hopped beer will usually be called an IPA while one that is less aggressively hopped with American hops may be termed an American Pale Ale.

However, there is no strict delineation between the two, and often, the brewery will decide to call it whatever it chooses. For example, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is considered an American Pale Ale although it could quite easily be classified as an IPA – simply because that’s what the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. decided to call it!

Bière de garde

This is a type of beer that was originally developed in the Nord-Pas-De-Calais region of France. They were brewed during winter and spring because the summer weather could cause unpredictable problems with the yeast, making brewing during that period unreliable.

These beers were intended to be stored in a cellar until they were needed, and traditionally, the bottles were stopped with corks. They are characterized by a golden color and a smooth, slightly bitter flavor.

Many styles of beers to try

In sum, IPAs are just one type of pale ale, of which many others also exist. Pale ales have been with us for centuries, and the term now covers a huge range of styles, making it difficult to generalize beyond saying that they are usually top-fermented and brewed with lighter malts.

Thanks to the innovation that has accompanied the craft beer movement, the term IPA now also covers a diverse selection of beers with varying levels of alcohol content and a range of flavor profiles. However, very broadly speaking, an IPA is a generously-hopped style of pale ale that has become one of the most popular types of beer among craft beer enthusiasts.

31 Best Specialty Craft Beers In the USA

Maybe you picked up a brewing habit in lockdown. Or maybe you just prefer artisanal tastes to mass-market ones. Either way, home-crafted alcohol is beloved around the world, whether it’s bottled sake or intensely fermented kombucha. Let’s look at some of the most popular specialty beers in the USA. Some are pre-packed, others you probably shouldn’t try in your crockpot!

But first a primer. Beer is – generally speaking – any malt drink fermented with yeast and flavored with hops.  They can be ales (e.g. porter, stout, wheat, etc. fermented using warmer top fermentation where yeast settles above the vat) or lagers e.g. (pilsners, Helles, etc. fermented using colder bottom fermentation where yeast sinks to the bottom of the beer barrel).

These specialty brews are sometimes marketed as artisanal beer or craft beer, so we’ll use these terms interchange-ably. And while some of us are happy to start the beer-making process from scratch, most of us are content to crack open a ready bottle or pop open a pre-chilled can. So here’s a list of 31 specialty beers in the USA. We’re sure you’ll find one in a bar near you!

1. Ommegang Brewery, New York – Witte Ale

Ommegang Brewery, New York – Witte Ale

For lots of people, beer and Belgium are synonymous. So if you’re in New York and looking for crafty brews, try Ommegang. They have a café and restaurant for social drinking and fun nights out. But they also have a delivery service and curbside pick-up. If you haven’t had their beer before, Witte Ale and Three Philosophers are popular suggestions for gluten-friendly novices.

The venue has an old-school rustic feel, authentically mimicking a Belgian barn. Ommegang beer is brewed in five series including limited editions and GoT. The Ommegang Brewery sits in Milford. This former farmland once grew hops on its 136-acre grounds, located a little south of Cooperstown. The area is sometimes called Nova Belgium, and they host beer festivals regularly.

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2. Ithaca Beer Company, New York – Flower Power IPA

Ithaca Beer Company, New York – Flower Power IPA

IPAs (India Pale Ales) are often brewed on the West Coast of the US. This is because hops were originally grown in that area. Depending on what stats you check, the figure is quoted as anything from 75% to 97%, mostly in Yakima Valley. But Ithaca Beer Co. is a North East Coast crew that makes a mean artisanal beer. They even named their flagship after the hops flower.

Ithaca Flower Power IPA has an ABV of 7.4% and is flavored with pale honey malt. It’s a fruity beer with hints of clover, grapefruit, and pineapple. Its psychedelic product label echoes the swinging sixties tribute in its name. It’s considered the best IPA in New York and ‘hopped and malted’ every quarter, earning itself bragging rights and proving its tagline as a year-round beer.

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3. Stone Brewing Company, California – Bueneveza Lager

Stone Brewing Company, California – Bueneveza Lager

With quirky product names like Bueneveza and Scorpion Bowl, Stone Brewing is among the top ten artisanal beer producers in the US. They have two bases in California and Virginia, so they cover both traditional growing spots. Their IPAs are legendary, and the company is also known for its limited-edition releases. Stone IPAs are available year-round with ABV as high as 8.5%.

The company also has smaller facilities in Napa and Liberty Station, as well as several restaurants and beer taprooms. Their gargoyle mascot logo represents their brewing philosophy and quality. So whether you want double artisanal ruination or you prefer the tropical thunder of gargoyle lager, you can find Stone Beer in all 50 states plus 40 foreign countries.

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4. Alaskan Brewing Company, Alaska – Smoked Porter

Alaskan Brewing Company, Alaska – Smoked Porter

Depending on your demographic, Alaska might bring to mind ice caps, global warming, 6-month nights, moose, or paranormal romance – mostly husky werewolves. But Alaskan Brewing is also known for their Smoked Porter. It has an ABV of 6.5% and is smoked by hand. Many Alaskan brewers use the same smoker for their beer, fish, and meat, so the flavors are sure to mingle.

This may not sound pleasant, but it works because Alaskan Smoked Porter pairs better with food than other porter brands. This specially smoked beer can also withstand prolonged sub-zero temperatures. This is partly due to the hand-smoked malt used to brew these beers. One of their newer offerings is a berry-based IPA they’ve labeled Berry Milkshake. It has an ABV of 7%.

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5. Allagash Brewing Company, Maine – Allagash White

Allagash Brewing Company, Maine – Allagash White

Based in Portland, Maine, Allagash Brewing is best known for its Belgian wheat beer – Allagash White. They have other brands like River Trip ale and North Sky stout. The brewery also offers a line of ‘spontaneously fermented’ Coolship series and fruity Little Grove sparkling session ale. Allagash was the 2019 winner of the James Beard Outstanding Beer and Wine Pros.

Maine grants Benefit Corporation Status (B-Corp) to green companies that keep staff, customers, the community, the taxman, and the environment happy. As an artisanal beer specialist, Allagash became the first company certified by the B Lab. All their beers are brewed in the Belgian style, from their seasonal limited offerings to their year-round bottles.

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6. Victory Brewing Company, Philadelphia – Easy Ringer IPA

Victory Brewing Company, Philadelphia – Easy Ringer IPA

Not everybody brews beer in their bathtub. Or at least they don’t stay that way. Some artisanal beer companies have quite a large footprint. Victory Brewing is one such example. It started as a 1985 friendly home brewing ‘contest’ between childhood buddies Bill Covaleski and Ron Barchet. They eventually opened a brewery together in 1996 and they now source 33.

They trained under Theo DeGroen, a German brewer at BBC (Baltimore Brewing Company) and Old Dominion Brewing Company before venturing out on their own. Victory’s flagship is HopDevil IPA, but their lo-cal Easy Ringer ‘diet beer’ is popular too. One of their four taprooms – the one in Parkesburg – has a raised platform where guests can view the brewing process.

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7. Founders Brewing Company, Michigan – All Day IPA

Founders Brewing Company, Michigan - All Day IPA

With specialty beers in the USA (and elsewhere), it’s more than just the taste or the buzz. It’s about the experience. That’s why many artisanal brewers have taprooms in addition to supplying stores, homes, and bars. Founders has a taproom at each of its breweries. The taprooms open from Wednesday to Sunday, 11 am to 9 pm though you can’t get in past 8.15.

The taprooms (and breweries) in Detroit and Grand Rapids provide tours and brewing classes too. As for their offerings, Founders has seven lines of beverages that include a series of flavored seltzers and a mothership series of limited edition bottles. Check their website for availability.

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8. Dogfish Head Brewery, Delaware – Slightly Mighty IPA

Dogfish Head Brewery, Delaware – Slightly Mighty IPA

Specialty beers are a bit like rock bands – half the fun is in the name. So, for example, everyone has heard of catfish, but dogfish? As a beer? Yes. And they lead with a lo-cal IPA called Slightly Mighty that packs a measly 95 calories per can and just 3.6g of carbs, 1g of protein, and 4 ABV. This bitter drink has the sweet, fruity accents of pineapple, mango, coconut, and citrus.

In 2020, Dogfish IPAs are rated by brewing time, so they have a 60-minute, 75-minute, 90-minute, and 120-minute offering. As they heat their hops, they periodically add batches to the boiler at least once a minute. So the 60-minute IPA will have hops added 60 times. This gives the beer its bitter taste. Dogfish also produce other ales, stouts, and lagers all year round.

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9. Bell’s Beer, Michigan – Best Brown Ale

Bell’s Beer, Michigan – Best Brown Ale

Deep in the heart of 1970s Kalamazoo, Michigan, a baker named Larry Bell discovered fun new things to do with yeast. As a staffer at Sarkozy Bakery, he began experimenting with brewing techniques and eventually opened Bell’s in 1985. It started as a local liquor store with a soup pot that brewed 15 gallons. It later grew into a brewery – Kalamazoo Brewing Supply Company.

They started with Amber Ale and currently have four beer lines – year-round, specialty, seasonal, and Larry’s Library of limited edition bottles. The brewery offers a convenient 12-month availability calendar on its website so you can check when your preferred brand is on tap. For Fall 2020, their seasonal brew is Best Brown Ale with its trademark owl mascot.

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10. Geary Brewing Company, Maine – Geary’s Pale Ale

Geary Brewing Company, Maine – Geary’s Pale Ale

Do you believe in (un)lucky numbers? Well, Geary Brewing was founded in 1983 as the first craft brewery in New England. Their lucky license number is #13 and their flagship was 1986 Geary’s Pale Ale. They offer Beer Garden services in the summer, and their specialty beers are divided into five categories of heritage (i.e. vintage), cotemporary, year-round, and seasonal beverages.

The company brews both British-style and American-style craft beer served on tap, 12-oz bottles, or 16-oz cans. Some of their beers come in 12-oz cans as well. The brewery has perfected both open and closed fermentation systems. This specialty brewer is committed to conservation and sustainability. They use renewable energy and donate their used grain to Portland farmers.

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11. New Glarus Brewing Company, Wisconsin – Coffee Stout

New Glarus Brewing Company, Wisconsin – Coffee Stout

This is a relatively young maker of specialty brews in the USA. The company started in 2017 by Dan and Deb Carey. Daniel studies brewing in university, including an internship in Germany. Deb specializes in marketing and entrepreneurship. So far, the company produces six beer brands, all listed on their beer schedule. The company offers brewery tours as well.

Dan creates limited edition Thumbprint beers a few times a year. It keeps his spirits up, pun intended, and you can check the beer calendar to see what’s available when. Their seasonal offerings include Cabin Fever, Coffee Stout, and Totally Naked. Use the Beer Finder on the brewery’s website to find a retail supplier near you. New Glarus currently has one location.

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12. Anchor Brewing Company, California – Anchor Porter

Anchor Brewing Company, California – Anchor Porter

Fritz Maytag sounds like a made-up name. Especially if it’s closely followed by ‘bunging’ and ‘kräusening’ because they sound equally invented. They’re not though. Fritz was the owner of Anchor Brewing in 1977 when they moved to their current premises. The brewery was initially a beer-and-billiards salon owned by Gottlieb Brekle in gold-rush California. He opened in 1871.

In 1896, the saloon was renamed Anchor Brewery by its new owners, Ernst F. Baruth and his son-in-law, Otto Schinkel, Jr. Otto was married to Ernst’s daughter. The brewery closed during the 1920 prohibition but re-opened in 1933 and still brews beer in traditional copper pots to date. Bunging and kräusening are brewing techniques, and Anchor’s flagship is Porter.

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13. Widmer Brothers Brewery, Oregon – Hefe IPA

Widmer Brothers Brewery, Oregon – Hefe IPA

You may have noticed from this list so far that Portland (both in Oregon and Maine) is a popular brewing sot for specialty beers in the USA. And that IPAs are a must-have item on their taproom menus. Widmer Brothers is part of that club, owned and run by Kurt and Rob Widmer. They started brewing at home when it became legal in 1979 but didn’t open the brewery until 1984.

Initially, they distributed directly to pubs and bars. They were the first specialty brewers to start releasing seasonal beer in 1986, and they launched the Oregon Beer Fest in 1988. Up until 1996, they operated beer taps, but they started bottling in 1996. Today, they have 24 taps in their Widmer Brothers Pub and the IPA, Hefeweizen (better known as Hefe) is their current flagship.

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14. Elysian Brewing Company, Washington – Superfuzz Pale Ale

Elysian Brewing Company, Washington – Superfuzz Pale Ale

Companies that make specialty beers in the US have a template. They’ll release 4 or 5 series that include multiple IPAs. Possibly because their fruity flavors leave lots of wiggle room for signature recipes and formulations. Elysian takes the opposite approach. They have launched over 500 craft beers since 1996. All with quintessentially American names like Space Dust.

Elysian has three venues in Seattle. Two are restaurants and one is the brewery taproom. This contemporary brewery s big on quantity, so they produce a new beer brand every week. They’ve won three awards for Large Brewpub of the Year, presented at the Great American Beer Festival.

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15. Lagunitas Brewing Company, California – Hazy Wonder IPA

Lagunitas Brewing Company, California – Hazy Wonder IPA

Lagunitas is popular among the podcast crowd. Tony Magee started brewing beer on his stovetop in 1993 before moving his formal brewery site to a nearby storage shed. Today, Lagunitas has three taprooms in Petaluma, Seattle, and Chicago, all with a strong heritage of supporting locals. They routinely host live bands and even global headliners. Plus, they curate Spotify playlists.

Beer wise, Hazy Wonder is among their top seasonal IPAs, but if you want to explore specialty beers in the USA, consider trying their Hi-Fi Hops, a fusion of liquefied cannabis and fruity ale. It’s sparkling, has no alcohol, no carbs, and no calories. It comes in three flavors with varying THC: CBD ratios – Tuner (18:1), Unplugged (55), and Reverb (10:0).

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16. Pizza Port/The Lost Abbey, California – Cuvee de Tomme

Pizza PortThe Lost Abbey, California – Cuvee de Tomme

If you’ve ever doubted the importance of copyright, learn that lesson now. When brewer Tomme Arthur developed his Cuvee de Tomme in 1999, he set his rights right. So when he moved to a new brewer, he was able to carry his treasure with him. He developed this beacon of specialty beers in the USA while working at Pizza Port Brewery. It’s a brown ale with cherry accents.

The fruity infusions in this beer include raisins, malted barley, candi sugar, sour cherries, aromatic vanilla, and dusty cocoa. The beer id pre-fermented then aged in oak bourbon barrels. This beer has won numerous awards, and if brewed using Brettanomyces yeast as a disinfectant.

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17. SweetWater Brewing, Georgia – Trainwreck Hazy Double IPA

SweetWater Brewing, Georgia - Trainwreck Hazy Double IPA

How well do you know your specialty beers in the USA? If you’ve dabbled in the space for a while, you know a craft beer with ‘haze’ or ‘hazy’ in its name implies marijuana. These beers infuse cannabis into the beverage. SweetWater Brewing calls its hazy line ‘420 Strain’. It includes five branded ales, IPAs, and lagers, with Trainwreck being a firm favorite.

This 8% ABV drink is available on tap, 12-oz cans or bottles. This dank drink is peppered with citrus orange, pine, and vanilla. It uses Amarillo, Azacca, Bravo, Centennial, and Lotus. The beverage is infused with terpenes that bring out these flavorful strains. You can eat and drink at the newly renovated SweetWater taproom. The bar currently has 24 variants in their beer taps.

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18. Anchorage Brewing Company, Alaska – Bitter Monk IPA

Anchorage Brewing Company, Alaska – Bitter Monk IPA

Loves of specialty beers in the USA will often try to brew a batch at home. Looking at a typical artisanal brewery is part of that process. You want inspiration, ideas, and an inkling of where to start. Anchorage Brewing has a convenient 3D virtual tour on their website. They invite you to visit the most key corners of their facility without leaving home of dropping the phone.

The company was founded by brewers Bart Chelmo and Gabe Fletcher. Their trademark drink is Bitter Monk brewed in casks of chardonnay oak. It’s a sour beer derived from Belgian yeast. The barrels are treated with wild Brettanomyces and the beer is dry-hopped with Citra.

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19. Georgetown Beer, Washington – Bodhizafa IPA

Georgetown Beer, Washington – Bodhizafa IPA

Bodhizafa sounds a lot like bodhisattva, the state of bliss and enlightenment of attaining Buddhahood. It sometimes describes meditating monks who are consciously along their path. As a craft beer drinker, the implication seems cheekily obvious. But whatever the origin, this IPA is brewed from rolled oats rather than wheat, giving the beer a silky feel on your palate.

Coincidentally (or not?) this IPA has an ABV of 6.9% and a rich, citrusy mandarin orange flavor. Every barrel of Bodhizafa is loaded with 5 pounds of hops so the beer has lots of body and lots of bodhi too. The brewery itself does seem rather serendipitous since its founders – Manny Chao and Roger Bialous – got affordable 15-barrel brewing kits from a dying North Carolina brewery!

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20. Odell Brewing Company, Colorado – Golden Ale

Odell Brewing Company, Colorado – Golden Ale

In the old days, grain elevators were used to transport and store food in silos and towers. One of these elevators – traced back to 1915 – became the brewing base for Odell. The cylindrical structure has good acoustics, which is helpful because Odell routinely hosts live shows. The brewery was started by the Odells in 1989 – Corkie, her brother Doug, and his wife Wynne.

In 2015, the Odells sold most of the company’s shares to its staff, so now it’s an employee-owned set-up. Before starting up the company, Doug worked at Anchor Brewery, which we mentioned earlier in this list. Their first offering was Golden Ale. All their beers start in a 5-barrel pilot system. Once the recipe is perfected, they get officially moved to the 135-barrel production line.

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21. Wren House Brewing, Arizona – Spellbinder IPA

Wren House Brewing, Arizona – Spellbinder IPA

With an ingredient list that includes lupulin powder, oatmeal, Citra, and wheat, Spellbinder is a suitable name. This mid-level ale isn’t as dry as British IPAs or as bodied as American ones, creating a happy median. The brew has an ABV of 6.5% and is a home brew in the realest sense.

The owners spotted the abandoned property in Green Gables and snapped it up. They turned the guesthouse and garage into a brewery, converting the main house into a taproom. Brewer Preston Thoeny runs the show, and the homespun feel of this venue adds to the appeal.

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22. Rogue Ales & Spirits, Oregon – Combat Wombat IPA

Rogue Ales & Spirits, Oregon – Combat Wombat IPA

Three Nike executives walk into a bar … and take over from the bartender. Well, not exactly, but they did start a company brewing specialty beers in the USA. They call themselves the Brewers on the Bay, and their headquarters offers a gorgeous view of the marina and has 40 beer taps.

And given the founders’ background, it’s a comprehensive set-up from farm to froth. The Oregon HQ has a brewery, a distillery, and a barrel-making factory in addition to the taproom. Tours are available daily, and beer selections include Combat Wombat and Shavasana Blonde.

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23. Perennial Artisan Ales, Missouri – La Bohème

Perennial Artisan Ales, Missouri – La Bohème

The definition of specialty beers in the USA varies. But generally, beer is considered artisanal if it’s a domestic operation or a small facility without the backing of ‘big corporates’. Some may dismiss Rogue Ale and embrace Perennial based on this criterion, since the Rogues and ex-Nike.

Perennial opened in 2011. Its weirdly named beers include Grapefruit Spare Parts IPA or Lunchbox Treasures, a strange-sounding combination of vanilla, marshmallow, nutmeg, and cinnamon brewed into a stout. But Belgian La Bohème is recommended by first-time visitors.

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24. Oskar Blues Brewery, Colorado – Dale’s Pale Ale

Oskar Blues Brewery, Colorado – Dale’s Pale Ale

Microbrewing isn’t always about size. But many craft beers stay local and tapped. They don’t go into bottling or even canning. Oskar Blues made the leap though. In 2002, it became the first specialty beer in the USA to be served in a can. Of course, this brewing crew is much larger now. They have breweries in Texas, North Carolina, and the Colorado HQ. Pale Ale is their top seller.

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25. Russian River Brewing Company, California – Pliny the Elder DIPA

Russian River Brewing Company, California – Pliny the Elder DIPA

You probably know the acclaim of Russian vodka, but this dude brew packs a mean punch, pun intended. In 1997, a company called Korbel Champagne Cellars started RRBC. But after 6 years, they weren’t feeling it anymore so they sold the beer brand, its recipes, and its equipment to staff members Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo. Their top seller is Pliny Double Dry-Hopped IPA.

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26. Great Divide Brewing Company, Colorado – Collette Farmhouse Ale

Great Divide Brewing Company, Colorado – Collette Farmhouse Ale

There’s an urban legend that American beer is weak because initially, its ABV hovered at 3.5% while the global intoxication preferences were 4% to 6%. Today, Great Divide prides itself on craft beers as high as 7% or more. Its taproom offers 16 beer taps and if you want a bite to go with your booze, you can buy something from the numerous food trucks and popup stands.

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27. Blue Moon Brewing – Blue Moon

Blue Moon Brewing – Blue Moon

In some parts of the world, Blue Moon is a brand of low-grade vodka. But it’s among the top-selling specialty beers in the USA. Its history is controversial though. Blue Moon beer is a knock off by Coors, reverse-engineered off Pierre Celis Wit, a Belgian beer he introduced in 1992.

Pierre sold his Celis Wit brand to Miller Brewing Company in 1995, but they discontinued it in the year 2000 because they couldn’t challenge Blue Moon. Both beers are fermented in Belgian style using wheat malt (as opposed to American-style wheat beers that are left unfiltered).

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28. New Belgium Brewing Company, NC – La Folie Sour Brown Ale

New Belgium Brewing Company, NC – La Folie Sour Brown Ale

You might have picked up a few things from this list. Like the popularity of craft beers in Michigan, Oregon, Cali, and Philly. Or how many of these craft beers come from Belgium. La Folie is one such Flemish import. Its name translates as ‘the madness’ or ‘the idiocy’.

This might refer to the perceived folly of brewing Belgian beer in the states, but it ended up being a clever gambit. It has hints of cherry, plum skin, and green apple in oak barrels.

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29. Boulevard Brewing Company, Missouri – Quirk Spiked & Sparkling

Boulevard Brewing Company, Missouri – Quirk Spiked & Sparkling

As their Quirk sparkling seltzers are … picking up steam … pun intended, the brand is getting bigger. Usually, seltzers are a chaser, but these seltzers are ‘spiked’ with 4.2% ABV. Quirk comes in blackberry and pear. Boulevard Brewing also offers cannabeers like Phantom Haze. Their first canned Smokestack Series brand is Tank 7, an artisanal ale with an ABV of 8.5%.

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30. Goose Island Beer Company, Illinois – So-lo IPA

Goose Island Beer Company, Illinois – So-lo IPA

In 1988, John Hall went on a European tour, feel in love with their beer, and brought some back home. He launched his craft brewing company in Chicago, and in 2011, Anheuser-Busch acquired Goose Island. But the brand remains crafty and artisanal, including their popular brand of diet beer, So-lo. It carries 98 calories per can and but has a dismal ABV of just 3%.

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31. Shock Top Brewing, Missouri – Belgian White

Shock Top Brewing, Missouri – Belgian White

We’ve mentioned several times that strange names seem prerequisite for specialty beers in the USA, and Shock Top certainly qualifies, right down to its mohawked tangerine mascot. Belgian White (5.2% ABV) is its flagship. That makes sense because Anheuser-Busch (AB InBev) is their mother company. Shock Top also comes in ruby fresh and lemon shandy variants.

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Do you have a bottle or can of your favorite specialty beer? Show us a photo in the comments!