WARNING: This article is for people that love hops and hoppy beers. Others may find the below descriptions offensive and bitter for their tastes. Proceed with caution.
India Pale Ales, or IPA’s for short, have been a huge part of the nation-wide craft beer movement of the past 10 or so years. IPA’s are a stronger version of pale ale. They are made with more hops and intended to have a higher alcohol (ABV) content. So where does the “India” part come from? Well this style of beer originated in England, but the name stems from its popularity with British troops who were stationed in India in the 19th century. When sending regular pale ales from England to the troops they would tend to arrive spoiled or flat. An abundance of hops and a higher alcohol content was then added to help the ales survive the journey to India and arrive fresher and with more flavor.
Alright, history lesson over. With the new Oklahoma ABLE laws going into affect on October 1st, you can now buy cold high-point beer. For those not familiar with the old Oklahoma law, anything over 3.2% ABV had to be sold at room temperature because… no one knows, it was a dumb law and is now gone. With this new freedom to buy cold craft beers at our leisure I thought I’d share my, very biased, list of the 5 best Oklahoma IPA’s.
1. Broken Tile – Vanessa House
- Double IPA
- 8.4% ABV
Broken Tile from Vanessa House is what all Double IPA’s should aspire to be. It tastes of smooth grapefruit and citrus hops that lead to a floral finish. The key word here is “smooth”. So many IPA’s are too singular with their hops taste and don’t have a rounded enough flavor. It is also a surprisingly juicy IPA, don’t be fooled by the strong hoppy and grapefruit aroma. I’d say the main flavor here that balances out the grapefruit is pineapple, a sweeter and less bitter fruit. Any beer that is 8.5% and is still this drinkable should be considered a masterpiece.
Vanessa House is relatively newer to the Oklahoma beer scene but they have shown some serious skill with their 401k Cream Ale, the Garage Fire pale ale, and this DIPA. I can’t wait for their new tap room to open in Midtown!
2. Astrodog – Stonecloud Brewing Co.
- 7% ABV
The lone standard IPA on the list, the Astrodog from Stonecloud is a superior sipper. It has a hazy color and is pretty heavy up front with the hops flavor but is hard beer to put down once you get started. Not nearly as much caramel or malt as the DIPA’s on this list but does have some orange and grapefruit flavor. Almost comes off as light, making it very drinkable and a beer that pairs well with food.
I’ve had some other great beers and IPA’s at Stonecloud as they frequently change up their taps. Some of the memorable IPA’s have included:
- Cowboys and Angels
- Smoove Moves
2. Alpha Hive – Coop Ale Works
- Double IPA
- 9.1% ABV
Alpha Hive is a Spring seasonal beer from Coop Ale Works. Coop has long been one of the biggest craft breweries in Oklahoma and many people look forward to the release of the Alpha Hive each year. The beer gets it’s name from the bee-crafted orange blossom honey that is infused in it. I remember seeing it in liquor stores this past Spring and hearing comments like “oh yeah, this year’s is even better than the last”. So this ranking is based on the 2018 version since it’s the only one I’ve tried.
The taste starts out pretty strong with hops and is a tad bitter on the front, however, the sweet honey asserts itself and it leads to a taste combination of citrus and malty caramel. It works really well when combined with the bitterness as it adds complexity and softens the finish. Expectations are high for the 2019 version.
Other solid Coop IPA’s:
- Fly Me Away
3. Hoptometrist – Roughtail Brewing Co.
- Double IPA
- 8.96% ABV
The Hoptometrist from Roughtail is the elder statesman on the list as it debuted back in 2013. I’ve heard from a few Oklahomans that it has improved over the years and has never tasted better than it does now. It is a crisp, dry beer with the hops being the main attraction here. There are some hints of citrus and malt that come through and provide a small amount of sweetness but not nearly as much as the two beers above on this list.
The simplest way to describe this beer is that is it very hoppy yet still very drinkable. It is bitter but not too much. A true hop heads delight.
Other solid Roughtail IPA’s:
- Everything Rhymes with Orange
5. Phantasmagoria – Prairie Artisan Ales
- Double IPA
- 8% ABV
Prairie is another one of my favorite brewers in Oklahoma. They are so creative with their beers and are always trying out new and unexpected flavors. And although they are mostly known for their stouts, sours, and farmhouse ales they know their way around an IPA too. Similar to Stonecloud they frequently rotate their taps and have a lot of limited release beers. Despite this, they have had one double IPA that stays on the menu called Phantasmagoria.
The Phantasmagoria is a west coast styled IPA in that it has big, hoppy flavor to it. There is a little bit of malt on the finish but the notes of tropical fruit stand out before then. A really tasty beer.
Other solid Prairie IPA’s:
- OH to OK
- Rainbow Runner
- Wine Snob
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