IPA is a day to celebrate. It is not a Hallmark holiday designed by breweries to sell more IPA. IPA is the GABF Category with the most entries, it doesn’t really need any help. Instead, IPA Day is a chance to break out and try something hoppy and see what happens when brewers start to paint with these green flowers.
While the release of any new beer is great news, there are some IPAs that show how Florida has changed and how Floridian beer drinkers’ palates have evolved over the years. Some brewers take a unique spin on the classic IPA and some add their own twist to make it one of a kind. Here is a list of ten classic Floridian IPAs to try out for IPA Day this year.
Dunedin Brewery Piper’s Pale Ale: As the oldest craft brewery in the state, Dunedin Brewery had to be included, even though this is technically a pale ale. This light colored beer combines hops to make an approachable pale ale named for Dunedin’s Celtic heritage. As a side note, this one holds a special place in my heart because it is the first hoppy Floridian beer I have ever enjoyed back in 2005.
Tampa Bay Brewing Company Old Elephant Foot IPA: Another iconic brand that helped to build a brewery, this West Coast style IPA puts hop flavor above malt character and asserts itself like a slighted ex-girlfriend. This is Tampa Bay Brewing Company’s best-seller, and the first beer they canned with head brewer David Doble indulging in the first beer off of the canning line.
Cigar City Brewing Jai Alai IPA: The gold standard in citrusy IPA, a beer that many beer enthusiasts can pick out of a blind tasting. Cigar City Brewing’s first bottled beer, the fuel that pushed them to expand, and the brewery’s first beer in cans, Tampa Bay and beyond cannot seem to get enough of this one. Named for the Basque sport of kings that used to be huge in Florida, this beer gives Cigar City Brewing the title of brewery that was built by a 7.5% ABV IPA – a title that few other breweries can claim.
Intuition Ale Works I-10 IPA: Another West Coast style IPA, this one is Jacksonville’s Intuition Ale Work’s workhorse beer. Available in cans and named for the highway that runs from the Atlantic through Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and beyond the state’s western border, this mainstay is almost always on draft.
Due South Brewing Category 3 IPA: One of South Florida’s finest IPAs, this beer has a hurricane of hops in every can yet does its best to maintain the balance of malt sweetness and bitter hoppiness. This is the first beer that Due South owner and former homebrewer Mike Halker ever entered into a contest, and it won an award. Named for the hurricanes that plague Florida in its hottest months, this one is available in cans throughout Florida’s east coast.
Proof Brewing Warpath Imperial IPA: An imperial IPA, but one not to be ignored, Proof Brewing’s Warpath IPA was originally brewed for the Florida State Seminoles’ national championship win in 2014. Since then, this beast of an IPA is one that we have written about before and one that is a joy to behold. Bruising bitterness and a wonderful malt presence, this one lives up to its name as the hops are on the warpath. It is unfortunately draft only and a beer that Proof only releases occasionally, enjoy it while it is here because like all good things, the supply will come to an end.
Fort Myers Brewing OYA IPA: A favorite beer of the Best Florida Beer Competition, Fort Meyers Brewing’s OYA Double IPA is packed to the gills with citrus and tropical fruit character. Characterized by a high alcohol content and a flavor profile to match it, this one will knock you on your back if enjoyed without caution. At just over 9.1% alcohol, this is one to enjoy with moderation while it is here, as it is not around for long once it’s tapped.
Orchid Island Brewing Star Ruby IPA: Part of Orchid Island Brewing’s Grove to Glass project, this IPA utilizes fresh Indian River grapefruit in the beer. Brewer Alden Bing tries to incorporate Florida citrus into every single Orchid Island beer, and this hazy deliciousness is his showpiece. This one has limited distribution and all of it close to Vero Beach, so it may require travel, but proves that good things come to those who wait.
7venth Sun Brewery IPA is Dead and New England Killed It IPA: Part of the great tongue-in-cheek humor that Florida’s craft brewers have, this easy-drinking IPA teases those lovers of hazy so-called New England IPAs. Purposely made to be hazy, this one may make fun of New England but has scorching Florida summer on its mind.
Swamp Head Brewery Big Nose IPA: One of the beers that put Gainesville on the craft beer map, Swamp Head Brewery’s Big Nose IPA was brewer Craig Birkmaier’s awarded homebrew recipe scaled up for everyone to enjoy. Now in cans, Swamp Head may be famous in Gainesville, but is available throughout Florida.
Playalinda Brewing Bring It! IPA: Playalinda Brewing’s Ron Raike knows how to bring it, as he loads this IPA down with Citra and galaxy hops and knocks it out of the park. One of Florida’s newest IPAs from a brewer who got his start in Orlando, this is one of Florida’s most noteworthy and head-turning IPAs, despite its limited presence on the east coast of Florida, available primarily on draft at Playalinda and festivals the brewery pours.
Tomoka Brewing Twist of Cane Double IPA: The Orange Park craft brewery’s double IPA has a unique twist in it with the addition of cane sugar adding to the malty sweetness that’s offset by the hop addition. Big but not overwhelming at 8.5%, this IPA’s sweetness belies the alcohol presence underneath. This DIPA pours well at the Orange Park brewery or is available in canned 4-packs throughout the state.