Denver currently has about 10 million breweries, so it can be hard to navigate the myriad of beer options in this town. I humbly offer a handy guide for all of the hopheads out there. This isn’t some wimpy Top 10 list – this is a full list of Denver’s 20 best IPAs. I’m keeping this pretty Denver specific as well, so apologies the Boulder and other communities just outside of Denver.
Through a very scientific process, I’ve ranked Denver’s IPAs based on their general awesomeness. Using rankings from BeerAdvocate, RateBeer, Untappd, and the personal preferences of yours truly, this is a thoroughly comprehensive list, and the ultimate guide to Denver IPAs.
20. Joyride Edgewater IPA
Joyride Brewing Company opened in the summer or 2014 in the Edgewater area near Sloan’s Lake area of west Denver, and was an immediate hit. Thanks in large part to their Edgewater IPA, this new brewery hasn’t taken long to establish themselves as both a local haven for surrounding residents as well as a destination brewery in a town full of destination breweries. Edgewater IPA is probably one of the closest clones to a traditional “West Coast IPA” in Denver. It’s aggressively hop-forward, thanks to a ton of Apollo, Chinook, and Amarillo hops in this bad boy.
19. Mockery Red Session IPA
Session beers became the flavor of the year in the craft beer world in 2014. Low ABV but still flavorful?? Sign me up! This Red Session IPA from RiNo’s newest brewery, Mockery Brewing, uses the elusive Nelson Sauvin hops along with some Cascade to give this session beer its hoppy kick. The CaraRed malt balances the hops nicely for a refreshingly light IPA.
18. Copper Kettle Naja Imperial Red IPA
What’s better than a session IPA you ask? Well an IMPERIAL one, duh! Clocking in at 110 IBU and 9% ABV, this beer from Copper Kettle is big on flavor. Tons of malt combine with nicely with the deluge of hops to create a well balanced IPA. A big beer with a big mouthfeel, this is a great IPA alternative to traditional winter beers.
17. Lowdown IPA
One of the few brewpubs in Denver, Lowdown Brewery boasts a great menu as well as a quality line-up of house brews. Their IPA is a bit on the fruitier side, with grapefruit and tangerine flavors really coming through. More piney than malty, this is a classic American IPA.
16. Vine St. Pub Illusion Dweller IPA
On the flip side, Illusion Dweller IPA from Vine Street Pub is about as classic of a British IPA as you’ll find. Made with toasted malts and a heap of East Kent Golding hops, this IPA will get you through a long Eastern voyage, or at least tide you over until your next IPA.
15. Strange Breakfast Grapefruit IPA
IPA for breakfast? You had me at breakfast…
But for reals, a citrusy IPA is the perfect beer to pair with a good breakfast. Strange Craft uses a ton of Citra and Amarillo hops to concoct this unique brew. You can really taste the grapefruit peel, and while I generally steer clear of fruity wheat beers, the fruit pairs really nicely with the hops for a crisp and refreshing IPA.
14. Wit’s End Green Man Ale
Denver’s one-time smallest brewery has had the Green Man Ale on tap since the beginning. A Northwest-style IPA, this beer has just enough Northwest hops to be considered an IPA, but a ton of caramel and toffee flavor comes through from the malt. Wit’s End has become well known for their Jean-Claude Van Blonde, but it’s this hoppy delight that keeps me coming back.
13. Dry Dock Hop Abomination IPA
Hop Abomination IPA from Dry Dock Brewing is a true hop bomb. Five types of hops are used for this behemoth -Chinook, CTZ, Centennial, Galena and Amarillo. Tack on 5 lbs. of hops for dry-hopping, and the bitterness in this beer just won’t quite.
12. Bull & Bush MAN Beer
Bull & Bush Brewery has been supplying Denver with great brews, British pub vittles, and cracking atmosphere since 1971. They’ve only recently started bottling their beers, and of course started with their most decorated beer, Man Beer. Not for the faint of heart, Man Beer was voted the best IPA in the world at the 2012 World Beer Cup, confirming what Denver already knew – that this is a damn good IPA.
11. Dry Dock Double IPA
How do you up the ante after producing Hop Abomination? MORE HOPS. Instead of 5 varieties, Dry Dock’s Double India Pale Ale has 7 – Chinook, Cascade, Columbus, Centennial, Crystal, Challenger, and Citra. Making this beer even more unique, the brewery uses 100% Simpson’s Golden Promise from Scotland, which adds a ton of sweet malt to balance out the hops. Easy drinking at 9%? It sure is.
10. Great Divide Titan
Titan might be Denver’s most famous IPA, from arguably Denver’s most famous brewery – Great Divide Brewing Co. This classic American IPA artfully combines everything that’s great about an IPA. It’s zesty, piney, fruity, and malty, with a nice mouthfeel that finishes dry. It’s easy to see why Titan IPA has become an American classic.
9. Renegade Redacted Rye IPA
Rye beers have steadily become a standard in my beer drinking line-ups, and Renegade Brewing Company‘s flagship beer Redacted Rye IPA is one of them. Rye malt imparts a slightly nutty, slightly spicy flavor that does wonders when added to the grain bill. Renegade was one of the first to add rye wholeheartedly to an IPA, and makes for a thoroughly drinkable IPA.
8. Jagged Mountain Brett Bagger White IPA
This Jagged Mountain collaboration with Dragonmead and Kuhnhenn breweries is a bit of a cheat for the list. A barrel-aged IPA with Brettanomyces? Seems unfair… The Brett sourness plays nicely with the over-abundance of hops in this super light, super dry IPA. The New York Post agrees, as they named Brett Bagger one of “The 9 best sour beer breweries in Colorado”.
7. Coda Covalent IIPA
Coda Brewing Co. burst onto the Denver beer scene in 2014, nabbing a GABF Silver Medal in their first try with a Passion Fruit Kolsch. They also boast a “Fermentation Scientist” behind the scenes running the show, which definitely accounts for their high quality lineup. The Covalent IIPA is a big beer – 9.8% ABV, over 100 IBUs, and an abundance of Citra hops. The best part of this Imperial IPA is the hint of mango flavor that comes from the hop mix.
6. Epic Brainless IPA
Epic Brewing‘s Brainless series usually pairs their delicious Brainless Belgian Golden Ale with a bevvy of different fruits. But this time, they’ve gone and made a Belgian-style IPA that piques the senses. The Belgian yeast works very well with the additional hops, and adds some different fruit notes than the traditional IPA.
5. Renegade Elevation Triple IPA
Renegade one-upped their Redacted Rye IPA with a Triple IPA for the ages. The catch to Elevation (E3) is that they only use a single hop – Summit. According to Renegade, “This beer is a great example of how complex a single-hopped beer can be. Summit hops are extremely diverse containing flavors of grapefruit, pine, and sweet onion. Our brewers are careful to add the hops at specific times in the boil to bring out each unique flavor.” I’ve had my fair share of single-hopped beers, and E3 is by far and away the most interesting.
4. River North Hoppenberg Uncertainty Principle
I’m a little partial on this one, as River North‘s house Belgian yeast is one of my favorites in Colorado. And while the brewery has really been killing it lately with their barrel aged beers, it’s their original Double IPA that really shines. The West Coast hop varieties, the Belgian yeast, and the extra malt create a very nice balance.
3. Comrade Superpower IPA
Comrade Brewing Co. is another newcomer who found success at GABF, winning a silver medal for a Fresh Hop version of this very beer. Industry veterans started Comrade Brewing, and brought with them some very tasty recipes. This West coast style IPA has loads of pacific northwest hops, and is fairly light on the malt character.
2. Black Shirt Red Evelyn
Imperial? Check. Rye? Check. Red?? Well of course, it’s from Black Shirt Brewing Co.! Tasty additions like Belgian candi syrup and Colorado wildflower honey? You know it. Throw in a shit ton of hops – (Simcoe, Willamette, Zythos, and Centennial to be exact), and you’ve got a really big beer that doesn’t skimp on flavor. Red Evelyn is definitely one of the most flavorful IPAs on the market today.
1. Great Divide Rumble
Is choosing an Oak Aged IPA cheating? I don’t care. It’s so freaking delicious! Rumble IPA takes a heavy hand of Pacific Northwest hops, and then gets aged on French and American oak. We all know what barrel ageing does to sour beers and dark beers, but what does it do to an IPA? Well, it makes it awesome, of course. The hops are still there in the forefront, but release to a smooth finish when the sweet, caramel, and vanilla flavors from the oak take over. Only available seasonally, Rumble IPA is a must-find when it releases, and Denver’s best IPA.