These kinds of questions are always rough to answer, but I’ll give it a shot. The trouble is, IPAs are so variable that opinions invariably vary. But you didn’t ask me to waffle, so here goes.
I personally have three favorites, for different reasons:
- India Pelican Ale from Pelican. As an all-arounder, it’s hard to beat. Lots of sticky, resinous hopping, but it’s bright and not overly heavy. The hoppy aromas and flavors are intense but not overwhelming.
- Double Mountain Vaporizer. A recent phenomenon in Oregon has been the “Summer IPA”–an all-pilsner malt, light-bodied IPA that has all kinds of zesty, refreshing hops. Vaporizer is single-hopped with US Challengers, and it is ideal on a hot day. (Draft only.)
- Fort George Vortex. Sometimes you are looking to be overwhelmed, to have your eyelids pasted back in your skull as a green flame of hop intensity screams down your throat. Vortex is my go-to in those situations.
- Ninkasi does two nice beers, as well. Total Domination is their lively regular IPA and Maiden the Shade is their summer IPA. Terminal Gravity’s venerable IPA is still amazing. And, if you’re looking to go imperial, I’d suggest Hopworks Ace of Spades or Hair of the Dog Blue Dot.