Arlington, VA

Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway)

By the time you read this, the second annual IPA Day will have already come and gone. Started last year, the idea of IPA Day is that every August 2nd, craft beer lovers everywhere get together and celebrate the humble hop flower and all the joy it brings us through its use in the venerable India Pale Ale style. Since this column runs the day after IPA Day and because it’s a relatively new event, I’m going to go ahead and say take the weekend to enjoy your favorite hophead treats. If you need a few suggestions, I’ve got some right here:

Bell’s Two Hearted Ale: Besides being one of the most popular craft beers around, Two Hearted is a finely balanced IPA that even appeals to those who think they don’t like ‘really hoppy’ beers. Bell’s fruity yeast strain plays exceptionally well with highly-hopped Ales, and helps give Two Hearted a combination of hop character and balance that isn’t seen as often as I’d like.

Dogfish Head 60, 90, 120 Minute: Pick one, pick them all—just make sure someone’s around to take care of you, ‘cause you’re going to need some help if you’re throwing back some of these bruisers. I’ve always been a 90 Minute fan myself, but I do occasionally enjoy a well-aged 120 (at 15-20% ABV, it takes a few years for the sugars in 120 to mellow out). All three have distinct characteristics and their own fan bases: 60 in some ways is the most assertive of the bunch, with 90 having a heavy malt element and 120 being so sweet in its youth due to its high alcohol level. These are the beers that put Dogfish Head on the map nationally, and they hold up all these years later.

Heavy Seas Loose Cannon: Straight out of Baltimore, Loose Cannon is one of the most versatile beers on the market. It also happens to be a heavily-hopped take on IPA. There’s an element of crispness to Loose Cannon that at once accentuates and gives focus to the hops used, and the careful consideration taken in making it pays off with a hoppy Ale that can sit with you at nearly any dinner table.

Uinta Hop Notch: Hop Notch has had a big year in our area. Where only a few months ago I’d see but a case or two at a time, now I’m regularly displaying case-stacks at Arrowine and selling through them quickly. Hop Notch plays on the citrusier, grapefruity aspects of the hop which serves to make it feel less strong than its 7.5% would have you think. Compared to, say, Two Hearted Ale, Hop Notch has less of a malty streak, which dials down the earthiness and punches up the ‘juicy’ notes. This is a very cool beer that many are just discovering.

Troeg’s Perpetual: The only non-IPA on this list is, in fact, an IPA. In this case however, IPA stands for “Imperial Pale Ale”. Now based out of Hershey, PA, Troeg’s put out this beer in 2011 intending for it to be a once-per-year specialty. It ended up being so popular that they decided to bring it back for 2012 as a year-round addition to their great lineup. At 7.5% and 85 IBU, the numbers suggest Perpetual is as big as or bigger than many traditional IPAs. But it’s all in how the beer is made: Perpetual really does sit in-between the bigger, earthier American Pale Ales and the uber-hoppy India Pales. The hops in Perpetual are more than enough to satisfy anyone looking for them, while the feel of the beer lends itself to easy enjoyment.

Regardless of which IPA you end up with, make sure you take the time to raise a glass with your friends this weekend and think of the humble flower of the hop vine, which has given us so much enjoyment over the years. Until next time.

Cheers!

Nick Anderson maintains a blog at www.beermonger.net, and can be found on Twitter at @The_Beermonger. Sign up for Arrowine’s money saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings at www.arrowine.com/mailing-list-signup.aspx. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

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