12 Popular IPAs Ranked Worst To Best

Three letters spell so much about the different varieties, flavors, cultures, and craftsmanship that go into the creation of popular beers. The India pale ale, better known as the IPA, is a wildly popular form of beer that is flavorful, aromatic, and not for the faint of heart. 

All beers are made with two main flavor-creating ingredients — hops and malts. Hops are tiny, green, pine cone-shaped flowers that are brewed with beer. These are the ingredients that give your beer the bitter, piney, citrusy flavor and pungent aroma. Malts are a type of cereal grain that give your beer a sweeter, bready, chocolatey, or more coffee-type flavor.

IPAs are beers that are made with more hops, making them the bitterest variety that you will find. The story is that sailors in Great Britain long ago loaded up the beer that they brewed with hops to preserve it as they traveled on voyages. This preservation method, like most inventions, inadvertently led to one of the most popular styles of beer in the world.

Today, there are a variety of IPAs that are made with impeccable taste and craftsmanship. It's a combination of art and science with a dash of love, and the end result is a marvelous brew enjoyed by people all over. 

When judging these beers, you must study the qualitative characteristics while also checking the International Bitterness Units, IBU, and alcohol by volume, ABV. In this guide, you'll learn about some of the most popular IPAs, ranked from the bottom to the top.

12. New Belgium Voodoo Ranger IPA

New Belgium worked its voodoo with this one, and the end result is a popular entry-level IPA that you'll find in circulation at grocery stores all over. New Belgium Voodoo Ranger IPA comes with a 7% ABV and a respectable 50 IBUs. It features some hoppy bite and is one of the most accessible mainstream IPAs that people stock up on when it's cookout season or time to watch the game.

While it definitely features some hoppy bite, you won't get the complex blend of flavors that you might expect from some of the upper-end IPAs on the market. IPA aficionados might overlook the New Belgium Voodoo Ranger IPA. When you pour Voodoo Ranger into a glass, you'll notice that it has tropical notes with biting citrus flavors. It has a golden color, and the hops are washed down by butter-flavored malts and enough of an alcohol content to not have too strong an aftertaste. 

11. Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA

If you see the flying dog in your local grocery store, the first thing you notice is unique abstract art on every package, can, and bottle. This brewery puts out a lot of different selections, and the Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA is the flagship offering from this brewery. It's a beer that is another suitable entry-level IPA that you'll appreciate if you're new to IPAs, but may choose to move on once you have developed your palate and want to appreciate more complex and unique flavors.

The Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA has a 7.1% ABV, along with 60 IBUs. This is a West Coast IPA that gets circulation all over the country in grocery stores and craft brew shops. The West Coast style IPA is known for having a higher hop content and plenty of bold flavors, as reflected by the higher IBUs. Some of the hops included in Snake Dog include Warrior, Columbus, and Simcoe. 

It's a quality beer with a golden pour and has a combination of grapefruit hoppiness and sweet, bready malts. This beer is both sweet and pungent and features a light, foamy head when poured into a clean glass. Snake Dog tends to retain its head, giving you a pleasant aroma with every sip. The Snake Dog is a good choice when you're just getting into IPAs, hence its popularity, but there are some other higher-quality choices on the market that are worth exploring first.

10. Sierra Nevada Big Little Thing IPA

Sierra Nevada, based in Chico, California, is one of the most popular craft beer companies that deliver high-quality options to beer lovers and newbies alike. Sierra Nevada is found in virtually every grocery store beer aisle and is one of the most recognizable brands around. So once you're ready to venture out of the Sierra Nevada pale ale into the land of the IPA, how does the Big Little Thing measure up?

In a nutshell, it's a great budget IPA to try out when you want to taste a good blend of malts and hops. This beer offering comes with 9% ABV and 45 IBUs. It features a higher alcohol content than many other IPAs, though a bit lower in the IBU category. While this beer is accessible, the lower IBU content may deliver enough oomph for people who really love intense IPAs.

Big Little Thing pours light and clear and is a tropical-smelling and tasting concoction that features several different taste notes. Some of the flavors that you'll pick up include tangerines, grapefruit, mango, and flowery hops. It finishes with a biscuity, buttery malt flavor, chased by aromas of pine, pungent grass, and citrus. This isn't a bad beer to keep in your cooler or refrigerator, but as with many more mainstream IPAs, the hops and flavors get more complex when you look into some more intriguing offerings. 

9. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA

This Sierra Nevada IPA offering is its flagship IPA and can stand toe to toe with virtually any other in its category. While the Big Little Thing IPA is more of an entry-level IPA, the Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA has more hops and flavor for people who gravitate toward these types of IPAs.

The concept for this beer began when the brewers brainstormed ideas on a napkin to create a beer that is loaded with hops but isn't so bitter that it becomes offputting. What came about is an IPA that has plenty of balance, a high hop profile, and lots of complex flavor and aroma. 

The Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA features a 7.2% ABV and 65 IBUs. It's a torpedo of flavor in a glass that pours a solid amber color with a virtually clear body. Taste notes in this IPA include oranges, pineapples, and lots of bitter hops. 

The malt flavor that you'll pick up includes toasted bread and caramel. After a neat pour with a long-lasting head, you will take in the aromas of flowers, pine, and a variety of citrus fruits. The "extra" in the title isn't a mistake, as this IPA features a double dose of flavor. It's a popular IPA that you'll commonly find sold right alongside Sierra Nevada pale ales and seasonal variety packs. 

8. Surly Brewing Co. Furious IPA

Surly is a craft beer company located in Minneapolis that offers an assortment of mainstays and seasonal beers. The Furious IPA might be the most popular from the company due to its wide variety of complex flavor hops, malts, and aromatic qualities. Though Surly is a smaller brewery, this beer and others from the company have become grail items over the years, largely due to the popular Minnesota Vikings-oriented "Purple Daily" podcast and YouTube show.

If you find a Surly Furious in a beer shop or grocery store, it's a must-add to your shopping cart. This beer has plenty of bite, a unique flavor profile, and loads of hops. Furious delivers 6.7% ABV, making it drinkable without becoming too much, and a high IBU content that packs flavor in each can, bottle, or glass. 

It's an American-style IPA, which tends to have a lower alcohol content when compared to other beers, along with earthy and fruity flavor notes. After a fresh pour and a sip, you will typically enjoy caramel and biscuity malts upfront, followed by a more aggressive, furious hop flavor. It's a full-bodied beer that delivers notes of grapefruit, orange, and other citrus fruits.

7. Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Union Jack IPA

Firestone Walker is a brewery situated in Paso Robles, California, that offers one of the all-around best IPAs that you'll find in grocery stores all over. As a family-owned brewery, the company focuses on delivering authentic, quality beers for its customers, and it shows with the IPA. This is one of the best West Coast IPAs you'll find on the market, and it's widely available in stores all over.

The Union Jack IPA features a decent blend of malts and hops, combining for a beer that is palatable, yet challenging. Union Jack has a 7% ABV with 60 IBUs and a 10 on the beer color scale. It's a pale to medium amber-colored pour that leaves a thick, foamy head in the glass. When you take your first sip of the Union Jack IPA, you're quickly engulfed in a sea of grapefruit and tangerine flavor that is long-lasting and satisfying. Since the Union Jack is loaded with hops, the beer has a dry finish, along with hints of sweet and honey bread-like malts.

Even though this beer is found in numerous places, it's one that makes you have to elevate your palate rather than watering down the flavor to appease the masses. It has enough kick to challenge your palate but isn't so overbearing that new IPA drinkers can't enjoy it. While there are certainly other IPAs that rank higher on our list, this is a decent option to keep on your list of beers to try if you're looking to round out your experience.

6. Lagunitas Brewing Co. IPA

Lagunitas is one of the most renowned craft beer companies, and its IPA deserves a place on your must-try IPA list. Located in Petaluma, California, this brewery delivers an American IPA that plenty of beer fans consider the creme de la creme of this category. The company set the tone for beers with this offering, as it combines a blend of hoppiness and palatability for a brew that is satisfying and delicious.

The company's IPA features a 6.5% ABV, along with 51 IBUs. It combines 43 different kinds of hops with 65 malts for flavors that are a connoisseur's dream in a glass. When you pour a Lagunitas IPA into a glass, it leaves a soft and persistent, creamy foam. This beer features a deep orange color and plenty of carbonation. You'll notice a variety of flavors when you enjoy this IPA, including orange, flowers, and piney hops, combined with biscuit and Graham cracker malts. 

This is an excellent beer to try out if you really want to see what the IPA market has to offer. It's also a good one to help develop your palate and develop your nose at the same time. Purchasing a six-pack will help you pick out the various notes so that you're able to know what you're tasting. The Lagunitas IPA is a winner when you want an IPA that can open the door to appreciating this category of beer.

5. Red Racer IPA

Central City Brewers + Distillers is a company based in British Columbia, Canada, that specializes in IPAs. Red Racer IPA is a highly-ranked IPA for hop lovers and budding hop lovers. The carton and packaging are one of the most recognizable when you're shopping for IPAs, and you'll find this offering in beer aisles all over. Though it's easy to find on store shelves, you still get plenty of beer aficionado credit for drinking this one since it is beloved and respected by brewmasters far and wide.

If you love hops, you're off to the races when you pick up this American IPA. In addition to a 6.5% ABV, Red Racer IPA features a whopping 80 IBUs. This is enough to make you scrunch for your face if you're brand new to the IPA game, but it can be just right if you already love them. When you pour Red Racer into a glass, you'll find a copper oasis with a frothy thin head. Due to the hop content, this beer will hit you with its piney, pungent aromatic qualities.

The taste matches the smell — upon the first sip, you'll experience the juicy flavor of grapefruit, pine needles, orange peel, and other fruits. It's followed by the malty taste of biscuits, caramel, and nuts. This beer gets high marks among beer lovers, and you will appreciate its qualities whether you pick it up from the store or find it on tap.

4. Founders Brewing Co. Harvest Ale

Founders Brewing Co. is one of the better craft breweries on this list. It's located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is known for producing some of the best beers all around. That reputation doesn't falter with the company's American IPA, the Harvest Ale. This beer ranks higher on our list since it's a hop experience in a glass that is brewed seasonally with care. Beer lovers everywhere get to reap the benefits whenever it's available.

The Harvest Ale has a 7.6% ABV and a strong 70 IBUs. This IPA is packed with hops and loaded with citrus flavor upon every sip. It's an impeccable selection for people who love IPAs and will be a welcome experience for those new to these beers. The Harvest Ale delivers a full-bodied pour with a balanced mixture of hops and malts. You'll experience the hoppy flavor of citrus fruit, mango, honeydew melon, pine, and papaya, backed by sweet malty flavors like nuts, cereal, and coffee.

You'll find Harvest Ale sold in 6-pack and 12-pack cans and bottles. It's a crowd-pleaser without compromising on flavor and freshness. This is an excellent harvest that you'll be glad to reap due to its tasty and refreshing qualities. 

3. Stone IPA

Stone is another brewery headquartered in California, and the company's IPA is another flavorful take that beer lovers revere. This American IPA is medium-bodied, full of flavor, and great for the whole crowd. Though Stone's beers are found all over, these offerings still provide the taste and quality that will please people with even the most refined palates.

This beer was founded by Greg Koch and Steve Wagner in San Marcos, California, in 1996 and has topped the list of people's favorite IPAs ever since. It mixes popularity with quality, as it's long been among the best-selling IPAs in the United States. In fact, it's Stone's IPA that created many of today's IPA lovers and is responsible for helping to launch the craft beer revolution that we're living through today. Stone's IPA has 6.9% ABV and 71 IBUs. If you already love Stone's pale ale, the IPA is a natural graduation with more complex flavors.

When you crack open a can or twist a bottle cap and pour this lovely IPA, it fills your glass with rich, amber fluid that is tasty and aromatic. Your palate will pick up flavor notes of mango, grapefruit, and orange hops mixed with caramel, bready, and sweet malts. The beer leaves a frothy white head and has plenty of balance and complexity. 

2. Dogfishead 90-Minute IPA

When you mention Dogfishead 90 Minute IPA, you're talking about one of the best IPAs on the planet. It has been named the best IPA in America by Esquire, and has the flavor profile and taste quality to back it. The beer gets its name because hops are added to the brew over a 90-minute period as it boils.

This leads to a rich, hoppy flavor and pungent aroma that you won't get from most beers. The 90 Minute IPA has a 9% ABV and a staggering 90 IBUs. It is so flavorfully bitter that distributors in certain states sent the beer back to Dogfish Head. This is a step up from the 60 Minute IPA, which is a hoppy beast in its own right.

When you pour your 90 Minute IPA into a tall glass, you'll find a foamy head that lingers for as long as you're drinking it. Though it's one of the hoppiest, bitterest mainstream beers on shelves, it doesn't sacrifice taste and balance. The hoppy flavor is enough to stimulate your palate, but not so much that the beer becomes unbearable. You will appreciate hoppy taste notes of pineapple, tangerine, grapefruit, and flowers, mixed with caramel, bread, and chocolate malts. You owe it to yourself to try out this award-winning beer, which has stood the test of time.

1. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA

If you had to try just one popular IPA, it needs to be the Ballast Point Sculpin. Ballast Point Brewing Company is another California-based brewery that takes its time with each creation, and the results are in each glass. This offering is considered by many the greatest IPA of all time and has collected 34 awards to back it.

This IPA has 7% ABV and 70 IBUs. The lower ABV makes it drinkable, while the hop content lets you enjoy so many different flavor notes in this versatile offering. It pours a bold and golden color, and the glass transforms into a bouquet of hops that open up with a variety of rich aromas. Taking a whiff of this IPA reveals notes of lemon, pine, grass, and apricot. Once you enjoy your first drink, your palate will experience flavors like grapefruit, pineapple, and peaches mixed with a dark, malty finish.

Though this beer is the epitome of complexity, the IBU content is low enough that it won't scare off people new to the IPA. It's a stimulating experience that makes you appreciate the IPA and how it has developed over the years.