Whenever I am in a bar or a store with a good selection and I am dithering over what to drink, I usually end up getting an IPA. India Pale Ales generally have the right combination of flavors to please your taste buds and are usually low in enough in ABV that you can have a few and slake your thirst. IPAs have become the standard bearers for most American craft brewers, and with good reason. They are usually drinkable enough for the casual beer drinker to enjoy, yet still interesting enough for the beer dork to sniff, swirl and text their impressions to other beer dorks.
There are several elements I associate with IPAs. First, IPAs are more aggressively hopped than other beers that do not have ‘imperial’ in their name. Second, the malt profile is elevated a bit due to the aggressive hopping. Third, there is usually some wood, generally oak, in the aroma and the flavor. Fourth, IPAs tend to be among the more affordable offerings for any given brewer. My guess is that IPA sales are the bread and butter business of most craft brewers and those sales finance the more exotic offerings that many craft brewers produce.
The Fire Island Red Wagon IPA is a decent example of an IPA. It poured a dark amber, with a nice head. The hops were earthy and fruity, but not as bitter as I normally like my IPAs. There was nothing outstanding or particularly memorable about this beer, yet I can easily see myself polishing off a six pack over the course of an evening. That is one of the wonders of IPAs. Even if they are not great examples of the genre, you can still pound them back. The Red Wagon IPA gets a 6/10.
I have extolled the virtues of Dogfish Head before, and I am going to do so again right now. The 60 Minute IPA is pale amber and slightly cloudy with some grassy hops aroma immediately apparent, and some light citrus notes on the back end. The light caramel malts bring some sweetness to the bitterness of the hops. This is an excellent beer, as enjoyable as they come, 8/10. My only complaint is that at nearly twelve bucks a six pack, this is pricey for an IPA, especially when you get other IPAs which are almost as good for well under ten dollars.