12 Best American IPAs of 2021
Incredibly, for the eleventh year in a row the American IPA finished as the number one most checked-in style on Untappd with over 7.2 million check-ins in 2021.
This classic, ubiquitous style continues to make its mark in United States history. So much so that we can probably safely say that the American IPA has become as iconic as baseball and apple pie.
It's hard to imagine a time when these floral, fruity, citrus-y, piney, resin-y beers weren't popular.
But before the turn of the century, the words "American IPA" were as uncommon as "Chicago Cubs Win the World Series."
In fact, dig into a couple major beer books of the time and you'll discover the dearth of American IPAs. Jack Erickson's Brewery Adventures in the Wild West (1991) only listed 3 IPAs out of 235 beers presented in the book. While Jennifer Trainer Thompson's The Great American Microbrewery Beer Book (1997) included only 8 IPAs out of 187 beers listed in the book.
Much like America itself, the American IPA style is relatively young, emerging with the American Craft Beer Movement in the 1970s. And one that American brewers wanted to use to differentiate themselves from their British counterparts. Whereas British IPAs are more like pale ales -- less hoppy -- American IPAs have bigger grain bills and tons of fresh hops.
Anchor Brewing probably made one of the first mainstream versions when they brewed Liberty Ale in 1975. In fact, Anchor claims this beer to be the first post-Prohibition American IPA, brewed to commemorate Paul Revere's ride in 1775. Full of Cascade hops, Liberty Ale kicked off what would eventually become a revolution.
But like many revolutions, this one took time.
To put it quite simply: The early versions of the style were just too bitter for American's light lager-loving palettes. Still, some managed to set the tone in the 1990s.
Such as Lagunitas IPA introduced in 1995.
Stone Brewing's Stone IPA brewed to celebrate Stone's first anniversary in 1997.
And Bell's Two Hearted Ale launched in 1997, but only as a seasonal. It wouldn't be until six years later that Bell's would finally make the now-iconic, award-winning, American IPA a year-round offering.
Consequently, as we turned the corner on the early aughts, brewers started to seriously experiment with the flavor and aroma profiles of hops. As a result, another bevy of well-known breweries jumped on the hoppy bandwagon.
Dogfish Head pioneered its 60 Minute IPA in 2003.
Firestone Walker brewed its first IPA -- Union Jack -- in 2006.
Sierra Nevada added Torpedo Extra IPA to its lineup in 2008.
And Ballast Point released one of its most prolific beers -- Sculpin IPA -- in 2008.
The list goes on. And the style grew from just a trend to a full-blown phenomenon.
Today, every brewery big and small probably makes at least one version of an American IPA. Okay, most likely more than one. Breweries like Tree House Brewing Co., The Alchemist, and Trillium Brewing Company have achieved cult-like status for making some of the best American IPAs in the United States.
From an American classic to a real "banger," here are the current 12 Highest-Rated American IPAs on Untappd in 2021.
Powered by Untappd Data (minimum of 1,000 check-ins)