India Pale Ales, otherwise known and IPAs, are beers often known for their intense bitterness and alcohol content, scored on scales of International Bitterness Units (IBU) and alcohol by volume (ABV). But in order to understand what exactly what’s made IPAs the most popular craft beer style in the U.S., beer drinkers have to look at much more than a number, Jason Pratt, a Master Cicerone, the highest level of beer education, explains. Rather, the rise of IPAs has been a result of brewers and hop growers becoming increasingly more capable of executing a variety of balanced flavors that appeal a broader base beer drinkers, without compromising the beers unmistakeable bite. Together they’ve made learning to love such an acquired taste more accessible and enjoyable for everyone, but especially busy dads.
“Bitterness can be really polarizing, but people have really fallen in love with IPAs. It’s one of those things that you learn to love and then seek it out,” Pratt, who is also a dad, told Fatherly. “There’s really something out there for everybody.“
And everyone should consider cracking open a few of his favorites this summer.
Easy Jack (4.5 percent ABV, 47 IBU)
Made from some of the newest hops from around the world, the Easy Jack IPA is the first of many things for the Firestone Walker brewery. Not only is it one of their first beers to be canned, it’s also one of the first session IPAs with lower alcohol content to be widely distributed. At $9.99 for a six-pack, Easy Jack takes it easy on parents who don’t want to leave the party prematurely for a nap. But what Pratt appreciates the most about them is that this lighter quality comes at no expense of the flavor.
“It’s kind of a session IPA with light aromatic qualities, but it really has that bitter punch that balances everything out.”
Luau Krunkles (6.5 percent ABV, 72 IBU)
Though it sounds like a cross between a cereal and a designer drug, Luau Krunkles is a bright and fruity IPA from the Athens Georgia-based Terrapin brewery. Combining Passionfruit, Orange, and Guava with a balance of hops, this IPA has a distinct Hawaiian shirt, vacation dad vibe. A six-pack for $9.99 is all any dude really needs to get leid.
“When I think of summer, it’s those tropical, fruit flavors that whisk you away to an island somewhere, Terrapin Luau Krunkles is a crazy name, but a lot of fun,” Pratt says. “It brings me to summer whenever I have it.”
Tropicalia (6.6 percent ABV, 65 IBU)
As the second IPA on the list hailing from Athens Georgia, from Creature Comforts, a brewery geared towards producing more creative, artisanal brews. Perhaps adding to its mystique, this IPA is reportedly one of the hardest beers to track down on this list, and in general. Although the abundance of IPAs may make Georgia a great place for beer, the state’s outdated laws that prohibit craft breweries from selling directly to consumer make this hoppy brew even rarer. But for those that can get their hands on a 6-pack from $10.99, buy into the hype, Pratt recommends.
“I’ve been lucky enough to try it down in Georgia and hear their stuff flies off the shelves. That’s a great one.”
Topcutter (6.8 percent ABV, 70 IBU)
Another underground beer many dads may be missing out on with Bale Breaker Brewing Company’s flagship IPA — Topcutter, available for as low as $9.99 a six-pack. The Washington-based family-owned brewery boasts that all of their beers are heavily hopped and unfiltered, and Pratt acknowledges that this is a beer any hop enthusiast has to try.
Two Hearted Ale (7 percent ABV, 55 IBU)
Named after the Two Hearted River on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale may not be new or exciting, but that’s what makes it great, according to Pratt, a Michigan native.
“It’s one of those classic beers that winds up at the top of every list, but that’s because it’s so good and been done well for so long,” he says. And widely available for around $11.99 a sixer, this IPA tastes like a deliciously bitter reminder to refrain from fixing whatever isn’t broken. And that particular paternal lesson pairs well with pretty much anything served at a barbecue.