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The best IPA beers to drink in the winter, according to bartenders

Best IPAs for winter

Beer glass

The winter months (and January) are well-known for their porters, stouts, and generally darker, bolder, richer beers. But you can only drink so many barrel-aged stouts and barleywines before looking for something lighter, hoppier, and more thirst-quenching. That’s why we spent the winter months mixing in an IPA here and there.

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Why IPAs?

What’s not to love? Hazy, juicy New England-style IPAs, piney, bitter West Coast IPAs, and every other style of IPA are ideally suited for the colder months. These hoppy brews are like a tropical, dank vacation from the freezing air outside.

Beer pour
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Bartenders favorite IPAs for winter

Sure, you could spend an afternoon perusing the beer cooler at your local grocery store or beer store or scroll through your favorite online retailers for hours on end. But wouldn’t you rather have someone else find these resinous, dank, tropical fruit-forward IPAs for you? Who better than the folks who spend their days pouring pints behind the bar? We asked a few bartenders to tell us the best IPAs for the winter months.

Bell's Two Hearted

Bell’s Two-Hearted

“Bells Two-Hearted is a perfect winter IPA. Hardy, Hoppy, wonderfully bitter, and balanced ABV to keep drinking and stay warm. Dry-hopped with 100% Centennial hops, there’s a reason it’s one of the most popular IPAs in America.” – Brandon Spann, head bartender at Kimpton Gray Hotel in Chicago

Voodoo Ranger Cryo Ranger IPA
Voodoo Ranger

Voodoo Ranger Cryo Ranger IPA

“Voodoo Ranger Cryo Ranger IPA. This 7.8% ABV IPA is brewed with Amarillo, Centennial, Citra, Pahto, Strata, Sabro, and Idaho 7 hops. It’s a nice and fruity IPA bursting full of flavor with a high ABV that will warm you up on the coldest winter day.” – Ana Humphrey, restaurant and theater manager at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Chicago

Lagunitas IPA

Lagunitas IPA

“Lagunitas IPA is a well-rounded, highly drinkable IPA. A bit of caramel malt barley provides the richness that mellows out the twang of the hops. This classic, well-balanced West Coast IPA gets its hop presence from the use of Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, and Simcoe hops.” – Eric Smith, assistant director of restaurant and beverage at the Kimpton Shane Hotel in Atlanta

Bell's Hopslam

Bell’s Hopslam

“Staying true to my Michigan roots here and going with Bell’s Hopslam. It’s not technically labeled a winter IPA, but it’s only available for the winter months, so it’s a given. This beer comes with an ABV warning, which is 10%. It will warm you up with a slightly dry hop with notes of grapefruit and tangerine.” – Tony Edgerton, beverage director for Breva in Minneapolis

Maplewood Son of Juice

Maplewood Son of Juice

“A lot of IPAs suit the winter, so I would lean toward a Hazy (as Chicago does), and the crowned prince in Hazy IPAs is Maplewood’s Son of Juice. It is among the most popular local beers and a personal favorite. The defining character that sets it apart is the tropical fruit notes. That may not sound too wintery, but trust me, this is a beer for all seasons.” – Vince Vecchio, beverage director at Rosebud in Chicago

Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin
Ballast Point

Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin

“Most people think of winter, and they think of rich and hearty beers. A great winter beer doesn’t have to be heavy to work. Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin IPA is a favorite West Coast IPA with just enough hops and bite but doesn’t overdo it. The addition of grapefruit, a winter citrus, gives it just enough lift to be clean and refreshing. “– John Filkins, corporate beverage director for Clyde’s Restaurant Group in Washington, DC

Sierra Nevada
Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada Atomic Torpedo

“Sierra Nevada Atomic Torpedo is a hoppy beer with stone fruit and other lush flavors. This 9.2% imperial IPA is brewed with Honey and Two-row Pale malt to give it a nice malt backbone. It gets its memorable hop aroma and flavor from the addition of Cascade, Centennial, Magnum, and Mosaic hops.” – Daniela Umunnakwe, USBG bartender at DrinkOnDani in Dallas

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Picking the proper IPA for you

If you want to, you can simply purchase one or more of the above IPAs that were picked by talented, beer-loving bartenders. You’ll likely be pretty happy with this decision as all of their picks are flavorful, balanced, hoppy brews. While not all IPA’s taste the exact same, you can still stick to your preferred flavor profile while enjoying some variety here and there.

West Coast IPAs are known for their pine-centric, sometimes aggressively bitter flavor profile. New England IPAs are known for their hazy appearance and juicy, tropical fruit-forward flavor profile. Milkshake IPAs are known for their creamy, fruity flavor. There’s something for every palate. The key is finding the IPA that suits you specifically.

Editors' Recommendations

Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
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