The growth of craft beer over the past decade or more is partly due to the popularity of IPA. The demand for fruity and citrus-forward IPAs has led to experimentation and innovation, including the addition of fruit to IPAs. It seems logical: if the hops in IPA smell like oranges, pineapple, or grapefruit, why not try using the real thing? When Ballast Point Brewing first released its Grapefruit Sculpin IPA, craft beer drinkers loved it. Today, dozens, if not hundreds of breweries make a fruit-based IPA, and the results are delicious.
Here’s a list of nine IPAs, each made with a different fruit, that are well worth trying.
Tangerine Soul Style has a cloudy, glowing orange color. The aroma has characteristics of fresh citrus, tangerine peel, and sweet tangerine flesh. Drinking this beer reminds me of picking tangerines out of my family’s tree in the yard. The flavor is mostly dry with just a hint of sweetness to accentuate the fruity aroma. The bitterness is what you would expect from an IPA but with a pith-like bitterness. This is a wonderful example of what can be done when fruit is combined with IPA.
Grapefruit Solis has bold orange color. Its aroma has strong notes from all parts of the grapefruit: peel, pith, and meat. Some grapefruit beers have a ruby red variety aroma, but this one comes off more like a yellow grapefruit. It also has a slight candy-like sweetness — like orange blossoms. The flavor has some malty sweetness and is not dry. The bitterness is partly spicy and partly pithy. Mike Hess Brewing did a great job to create an IPA that balances the fruit with the beer style without compromising either.
This beer has a dark orange cloudy color with a thick frothy white head. The aroma has strong notes of fresh cut pineapple, some grapefruit, and orange peel. The flavor is malty but only slightly sweet with a smooth but muted bitterness. The lower bitterness of this beer helps accentuate the pineapple, citrus, and summer-y characteristics of the beer. Goin’ Coastal is quite a refreshing fruit IPA.
Golden Guava has a distinct tropical fruit aroma, like fresh cut guava, coupled with floral and dank qualities from the hops. Even though the aroma seems sweet, the flavor is not sweet and it is what you would expect from a moderately bitter IPA. It has noticeable bitterness, which is balanced by the malt and fruity aromas. Even though this beer is tropical and fruit-forward, it maintains its IPA identity.
This beer has a slight pink hue from the addition of blackberries. The aroma has hints of fresh blackberries, plus earthy, herbal hops, and just a hint of pine. The flavor has a little sweetness and an herbal bitterness complemented by the dark berry flavors. Anchor managed to craft a well-balanced berry IPA that is not cloying or over the top.
21st Amendment makes this beer with blood oranges and then dry hops it with citrusy hops. The result is an IPA with a fruit-forward aroma with notes of fresh blood oranges and grapefruit. The flavor has a pleasant malty sweetness and a bitterness that is not overly intense. The sweet flavors complement the citrus aromas to create a delicious fruit IPA.
This double IPA is made with two types of fruit — habanero pepper and mango. The aroma starts with the qualities of a hoppy double IPA: citrus, grapefruit, dank, and a little pine. Chili pepper and a hint of mango follow, with a smell akin to cutting into a fresh jalapeño. The flavor has a delicate balance of sweet, spicy, and balanced bitterness. The combination of the mango, sweet malt, and habanero remind me of the flavors in dried chili-spiced mangos like one might find in Hawaii.
This beer is part of Upslope’s limited Tap Room Series, which comes in tall 19.2-ounce cans. The beer starts with strong aromas of peppermint and hops followed by a subtle hint of fresh strawberries. The earthy quality of the mint plays nicely with the strawberries, almost like you are pulling the leaves off the berry. The flavor is malty and a little sweet from the strawberries, which become more noticeable as the beer warms. Despite the sweet berries in this beer, it is not sugary and candy-like and has plenty of earthy hop bitterness.
Even though Ballast Point is better known for its Grapefruit Sculpin IPA, this beer deserves a mention because it is a session IPA made with mangoes. This beer has a nice combination of fruity, floral, and citrusy hops plus a big dose of mango fruit. The mango aroma is like dried, candied mangoes. The flavor is dry, not sweet, refreshing, and has a noticeable hop bitterness.
Nine beers don’t even scratch the surface for this style. Please feel free to share your favorite fruit IPAs in the comments or on Twitter.
Special thanks to SweetWater Brewing, Anchor Brewing, Upslope Brewing, and Starr Hill Brewing for the samples.
Finally, if IPA is not your favorite style, I’ve compiled a list on Beer47 of other great fruit beers that are worth trying.
Dave Jensen is based out of San Francisco and is the primary writer and photographer for Beer 47, a blog focused on craft beer, beer events, brewery tours, cooking with beer, and home brewing. By day, Dave continues his work in the beer world as a software developer and founder of BrewOps.