It feels like every week there's another quirky beer holiday to remember, from Beer Can Appreciation Day in January to last week's International Beer Day. But in Southern California, no dedicated-to-craft-beer day is more exciting than National IPA Day, a relatively new celebration of the palate-wrecking style that first set the region apart from old-world brewing traditions.
Last year, we brought you a few locally-made IPAs to get the hoppy holiday started right, but that was just an introduction. With hop-forward beers getting new treatments and unheard-of experiments at local breweries and beyond, we figured it was time again to help you sift through all that's available for the few that are worth drinking.
This year, we present to you five more locally-made IPAs — all of which were created within the last year and all of which are currently available on draft.
5. Progress Brewing Cavalry Double IPA
In just more than a year, Progress Brewing has successfully watered the former beer desert of South El Monte, brewing quality approachable beer and slowly luring untrained palates into the hop-head realm. Cavalry was the brewery's first double IPA and it is a meaty, malty 7.7%ABV brew with a sweet front and balanced, bitter finish. Cavalry is also the gateway beer to Sidewinder, a more-citrusy, brand new double IPA now pouring at the tasting room. 1822 Chico Ave. South El Monte; 626-552-9603.
4. Golden Road Brewing Heal the Bay IPA
Originally released last summer as a way for Golden Road Brewing to support the beer's namesake SoCal nonprofit, Heal the Bay IPA has become one of the brewery's favorite seasonal IPAs. As one of the first original creations from then-new Brewmaster Jesse Houck, the beer was a bitter wake-up call to L.A.'s palates. Thankfully, this light-in-body-not-in-flavor beer has been pretty widely and consistently available in the last few months, with kegs on draft throughout the region and four-packs of cans on shelves everywhere from Whole Foods to your local liquor store. 5410 W. San Fernando Road, Los Angeles.
3. Smog City Brewing Company GrapeApe IPA
Another radical experiment from Torrance's Smog City Brewing, the GrapeApe IPA series asks, “What would an IPA taste like if it was brewed with grapes too?” Since last year, the brewers have added a different grape varietal into each batch, gauging the public's response when everything from Muscat to Chardonnay juice is fermented along with malt. Always different and endlessly nuanced, GrapeApe is a must-drink when found on draft. 1901 Del Amo Blvd. Torrance; 310-320-7664.
2. Beachwood BBQ and Brewing Hop Ramen
Hop Ramen is a lemony, fruity West Coast IPA with a Japanese twist brewed by the best local makers of hoppy beers. Brewed in collaboration with the legendary Pizza Port Carlsbad, this beer was made with toasted rice and Asian-origin Sorachi Ace hops, giving it a unique flavor over Beachwood's more straight forward hop bombs. Of course, there are also the requisite American hops as well—Warrior, Simcoe, Amarillo and Citra balance out the intense Sorachi Ace in this limited-release brew. 210 E. 3rd St. Long Beach; 562-436-4020.
1. Highland Park Brewing Company Enter the Future IPA
Only the second IPA to be released from the impressive month-old brewery installed in the back of The Hermosillo on York Blvd., Enter the Future is another forward-thinking beer from Brewmaster Bob Kunz that belongs in Los Angeles. Using almost exclusively a new hop varietal called Equinox, the beer is light, crisp and juicier than the tropical fruits it tastes like. Grab a pint and a pork belly taco while feeling incredibly hip. 5127 York Blvd., Los Angeles; 323-739-6459.