While it’s a maxim that “national days” (recently: hot dogs, cheesecake) are mostly ridiculous, at least with this Thursday’s National IPA Day, you have an excuse to drink beer while whining about it. And why shouldn’t IPA be celebrated?
Despite a love-it or hate-it flavor profile that many find off-puttingly bitter, IPA is today’s most popular style of craft beer. IPA Day is a great chance to experiment with the style if you’re not yet a fan, and with the now prodigious beer scene in Los Angeles there are lots of local IPAs to try. And locally-brewed is good when it comes to hoppy beers. Despite the myth that India pale ale were invented to survive a long ocean voyage to the British colonies in India (a myth that’s mostly been debunked, according to prolific beer historian Martyn Cornell), IPA is not a beer that travels very well. The pungent hop aromas and flavors that IPAs are prized for are notoriously transient, and fresh, local IPAs will give you the most flavorful bang for your beer money.
With that in mind, here are the eight essential locally brewed IPAs that make perfect pints to celebrate IPA Day — or, needless to say, any day.
Beachwood BBQ & Brewing — Any and all of them
There are more excellent IPAs pouring in Los Angeles than ever before, but Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach is still the best place to drink them. You really can’t lose when picking a house-brewed hop-bomb from the Long Beach brewery, and there’s always a big crop to choose from. Can’t decide? Try this year’s release of Hopular Mechanics — it features experimental new hops. Money from every pint sold is donated to help fight ALS. 210 E 3rd St., Long Beach, (562) 436-4020, beachwoodbbq.com
El Segundo Brewing Co. — Mayberry IPA
El Segundo Brewing Co. is the place you want to be if you’re a die-hard hop-head. With nearly a dozen different variations on the fresh-and-hoppy theme that rotate through the taps year-round, ESBC is a veritable three-ring circus of hops, and Mayberry IPA is the tentpole. Mosaic hops — tropical and bright with berry aromas — take center stage with a pine-y bitterness underpinning the dry finish. 140 Main St, El Segundo, (310) 529-3882, www.elsegundobrewing.com.
Highland Park Brewery — Good Green
A new IPA from Northeast L.A., Good Green mixes a trio of popular hop varieties into a lighter and highly drinkable ale: Simcoe brings earthy, tropical aromas; Amarillo is peachy with whiffs of cannabis flower; and Citra rounds out the brew with its grassy and citrus-heavy scent. Good Green is on-tap at The Hermosillo bar, and the IPA will be released in cans later in August. 5127 York Blvd, Los Angeles, (323) 739-6459, www.hpb.la.
Smog City Brewing — Hoptonic
Smog City makes a slate of hoppy IPAs, but their understated flagship IPA is founder Jonathan Porter’s favorite. Bursting with relatively subdued bitterness and a complex hop aroma that shifts on the palate from citrus pith to sticky guava to stone fruit, Hoptonic is the kind of IPA that even a hop-hater could learn to love. The brewery still isn’t bottling this IPA though, so you’ll need to find it on draft.1901 Del Amo Blvd., Ste B, Torrance, (310) 320-7664, www.smogcitybrewing.com.
Monkish Brewing — TBD IPA
Ready for a challenge? Harder to score than a rare Pokemon, Monkish IPAs are the newest fad to hit the L.A. beer scene. Hundreds of thirsty fans line up at the Torrance tasting room hours before opening to catch a four-pack of Monkish’s new line of canned IPAs. You gotta follow the brewery’s social media to get the tip on when the brews will drop, or just head to the tasting room and hope one is on-tap. From what we’ve managed to sample, the Monkish take on the IPA is hazy and aromatic, with a softer bitterness and tons of fruity flavors. 20311 S Western Ave, Torrance, (310) 295-2157, www.monkishbrewing.com.
Three Weavers Brewing — Expatriate
The ever-growing Inglewood craft destination is making more beer than ever, but they haven’t expanded their lineup of IPAs much beyond the core Stateside Session IPA and their flagship Expatriate IPA, and they don’t need to. Expat is effortlessly drinkable. The bitterness is in balance with the lean body, and the hop flavors beg to be rolled around the tongue with each sip. It’ the kind of IPA that seems to disappear from your glass, but you don’t even mind because then you have an excuse to order another one. 1031 W. Manchester Blvd., Unit A-B, Inglewood, (310) 400-5830, www.threeweavers.la.
Eagle Rock Brewery — Populist
An early example of a brewed-in-L.A. IPA, Eagle Rock Brewery’s Populist might not be hip or flashy, but it is solid and better than ever. Populist has evolved; the brewers tweaked the recipe to boost the hop character and enhance the drinkability. If it’s been awhile since your last pint of the bright and citrusy IPA, it’s worth another taste, and Populist is now available in 16-ounce cans from the tasting room. 3056 Roswell Blvd., (323) 257-7866, www.eaglerockbrewery.com.
Claremont Craft Ales — Jacaranda Rye IPA
Way off on the eastern edge of the county is the small-but-excellent Claremont Craft Ales where some of L.A.’s best IPAs have quietly been developed. While the brewery has recently delved into fruit additions and bold, boozy double IPAs, Jacaranda Rye IPA is still the stand-out offering. The punchy floral and citrusy hop assault of the ruddy ale is tempered with the piquant flavor of rye grains. You can usually find cans of the brew at Sunset Beer Co. or other craft beer retailers, but a visit to the Claremont brewery is the best way to taste all their great IPAs. 1420 N Claremont Blvd #204c, Claremont, (909) 625-5350, www.claremontcraftales.com.