In the wild, weird world of craft beer, one style reigns supreme: the IPA. A hopped up, more bitter version of the traditional pale ale, India Pale Ales serve as gateway brews that introduces non-beer drinkers to the world of craft.
With over 30 breweries making their home in the greater Austin area, there’s no shortage of these delicious hop bombs. In celebration of the style, and craft beer in general, we’ve picked eight of our local favorites IPAs.
NOTE: This list only contains always available and single IPAs. No seasonal, rotating or double IPAs are included.
OTHER NOTE: This list is in alphabetical order, not best to worst.
1/ 4th Tap Brewing Cooperative: Long Walk
While I purposely tried to stick to traditional IPAs for this list, 4th Tap’s Long Walk Grapefruit IPA is too tasty to ignore. The flavor profile is exactly as advertised. Grapefruit dominates the up-front experience and gives way to refreshing floral notes and a semi-sweet finish.
Long Walk’s biggest success is its authenticity. Nothing about the grapefruit flavor seems fake or artificially shoehorned in. It may sound strange, but this is a grapefruit IPA that genuinely tastes like grapefruit. A wonderful balance of refreshing and full-flavored.
10615 Metric Blvd. – Website
2/ Austin Beerworks: Fire Eagle IPA
If you’ve stepped foot into an Austin bar at any point within the last five years, you’ve probably seen an Austin Beerworks tap handle. Winner of a silver medal at 2014’s Great American Beer Festival, this big, bold IPA is still a force to be reckoned with.
While all Austin Beerworks brews feature a hop kick, Fire Eagle lays the smack-down. The beer blasts off with big pine notes and a touch of tropical fruit, and closes with toffee and caramel notes. It also has a long linger, allowing ample time before another sip and hop uppercut. A true to style IPA that’s a solid starting point for beginners.
3001 Industrial Terrace – Website
3/ Hops & Grain: Greenhouse IPA
Hops & Grain prides itself on consistency. This Austin craft brewery makes awesome beer that tastes awesome every single time. But with the Greenhouse IPA series, that mantra goes out the window. Each batch in the series is wildly different than the other. From complex hop varietals to fruity, citrusy 100 percent Mosaics, every can is an adventure and always delicious.
And if you’re feeling even more adventurous, the Hops & Grain tap room almost always has experimental versions on tap, many of which never see the inside of a can. Inconsistent in style but ever-reliable in quality, Hops & Grain’s Greenhouse is worth going back for seconds, thirds, and fourths.
507 Calles St. #101 – Website
4/ Independence Brewing Company: Stash IPA
Like the Fire Eagle, Independence Brewing’s Stash IPA is an old school brew that has stood the test of time. Holding the prestigious honor of being the first Austin IPA I ever tried, Stash has a special place in my heart.
In two words, the flavor profile is dank and funky, both good things in the IPA world. This is true “West Coast” style, meaning the goal is to be aggressively hop forward while maintaining a balanced tone. Stash succeeds in admirably delivering a resinous up front flavor pop with a lovely caramel finish. If you’ve bypassed this brew in favor of the new kids on the IPA block, consider giving it another look.
3913 Todd Lane #607 – Website
5/ Last Stand Brewing Company: SMaSH IPA
One of the newest members on this list, Last Stand’s SMaSH IPA has two things going for it: fantastic flavor and incredible value. A 22-ounce bomber of this delicious IPA will run you $8, which is a steal considering the quality.
And don’t think the “SMaSH” name is a mere victim of awful capitalization. It stands for Single Malt and Single Hop, a term that means exactly what it says. Each batch of Last Stand’s SMaSH features one hop and one malt, making each purchase a lesson on hop flavor profiles. Citra hops burst with bright passion fruit on the nose, lemon notes on the tongue, and a long, lingering, dry finish. My favorite locally made bang-for-your-buck IPA.
12345 Pauls Valley Road – Website
6/ Oasis Texas Brewing Company: Metamodern IPA
In the craft beer world, we reject the label “light beer.” We prefer “sessionable,” a term used to describe a low-alcohol brew that’s drinkable for long periods of time.
In the world of sessions, IPAs are king. Big hop profiles allow brewers to ease up on the malt, which lowers the ABV. This also lowers the body, occasionally creating a thin, one-noted profile.
Not so with the Oasis Metamodern, by far the best session IPA in Austin. Despite the 4.5% ABV, this brew maintains a beautiful balance of malt bedrock and hoppy, floral kick. Designed to be enjoyed overlooking Lake Travis at this beautiful brewery next to the restaurant by the same name, Metamodern is pairs delightfully with a stunning sunset.
6550 Comanche Trail #301 – Website
7/ Pinthouse Pizza: Electric Jellyfish
With respect and love to every other brewer on this list, nobody’s Austin IPA game is as strong as Pinthouse Pizza. The brewery/pizza joint’s flagship brew is Electric Jellyfish, a hazy, juicy concoction of hyper-hopped goodness.
Unlike other IPAs that feature big bitter and funk with little else, the Jellyfish succeeds in a substantial malt build. A rich, velvety backbone gives the bright and citrusy hops room to breathe, making this an incredibly fragrant and tasty beverage. I could wax poetic for hours about this liquid marvel, but suffice to say, it’s one of the best IPAs in Austin.
4729 Burnet Road and 4236 S. Lamar Blvd. – Website
8/ Zilker Brewing: Marco IPA
One of my favorite Michael Jackson songs is “Smooth Criminal,” which is the best analogy I have for this decadent beer. Another newbie in the Austin craft beer scene, Zilker Brewing’s flagship IPA is one of the smoothest, silkiest IPAs on this list.
Upon first sip, the beer presents big pine and citrus notes. But as the initial hit fades, a sweet biscuity aftertaste lingers in your mouth. The result is surprisingly smooth and satisfying, a trait usually assigned to double IPAs. You know a beer is great when the head brewer puts his name on the label, and this lovely IPA is no exception.
1701 E. 6th St. – Website
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
What’s your go-to Austin IPA?