It is almost mandatory nowadays that each West Coast brewery produces a West Coast IPA, pale ale, or Double/Imperial IPA of some sort. Somehow, the Best Coast has become known for a bold, hoppy flavor, and our Orange County brewers know how to make us proud. Compiled for you are the ten most sensationally hoptastic brews in the county.
10. Humulus Lager -- The Bruery (Placentia) The boys over at The Bruery swore to never make an IPA, and to them, Humulus Lager is the next best thing. The "India Pale Lager" (IPL), mimics the IPA with that aromatic, hop punch but, true to the lager style mellows out in overall flavor. Brewed with rice to offset the hoppy bite, Humulus makes for an even tasting brew reminiscent of an Imperial Pilsner. Brisk and enjoyable, this beer is worth tracking down during its occasional release.
9. Holy Jim Falls -- Cismontane Brewing Co. (Rancho Santa Margarita) Not many dabble in the art of the Extra Pale Ale but the guys over at Cismontane do. One of their staple beers, Holy Jim Falls, kicks it up a notch on the hop spectrum to make for surprising, yet interesting, take on the pale ale. Although light in body, this beer does not disappoint in the ways of taste. Crisp, well carbonated, and flavorful throughout, Holy Jim Falls is more than your average pale ale.
8. Seaward Pale Ale -- TAPS Fish House and Brewery (Brea) Made solely with flowery Cascade hops, the Seaward Pale Ale from TAPS showcases the beauty of the single hop brew. Pale ales can be described as the safety nets of the craft beer world. They're reliable, mild on the hops, and just easy to drink. They're what you expect from beer and the Seaward Pale Ale, with its accents of pineapple and apricot, is just wonderful. There are hardly any bells or whistles, but the Seaward Pale Ale, like many of TAPS' beers, are just so well made you never want to put them down.
7. The Double IPA "Showers" Series -- Noble Ale Works (Anaheim) While TAPS may occasionally produce a beer brewed with one type of hops, Noble Ale Works has made an entire series of beers that showcase single varietal. The "Showers" series has produced a number of single hop beers, including Citra Showers, Simcoe Showers, Nelson Showers, and Amarillo Showers. Adding a variety of spices and fruits, Noble showcases each beer's distinct hop characteristics while producing a series of DIPAs for any devout hophead.
6. Ponto Session IPA -- Pizza Port Brewing Co. (San Clemente) Those who like to argue that session IPAs and pale ales are the same thing get lost in the semantics and forget the most important thing -- they taste good regardless of what they're called. Laid back bars (and beers) transform any drinking experience from decent to pure bliss. Pizza Port serves Ponto regularly on draft and even provides them in cans for your drinking pleasure. Pool parties and BBQs of the future would be smart to ditch the big names and throw some Ponto SIPA in the cooler instead.
5. Jericho Imperial IPA -- Valiant Brewing Co. (Orange) Hops, hops, and more hops in this bitter big boy DIPA from Valiant Brewing Co. If you have a bad taste in your mouth, it'll disappear with one sip of Jericho (As well as most other tastes). Citrus fruits, like orange and tangerine, burst out of this beer in a flurry of flavor. Ending with a sweet maltiness on the back of the palate, this brew has everything you expect from a DIPA. Oh...and did I mention the hops? 4. Rustic Rye IPA -- Bootlegger's Brewery (Fullerton) "Drinkability" can often be difficult to find in the world of IPAs. More often than not, they're primary tasting note is just "bitter." Bootlegger's Rustic Rye IPA deviatesfrom the norm, offering a charming caramel character that follows a muted, yet alert, hop presence. The maltier IPA, served year-round, lends a nice change of pace from the "all hops, all the time" IPA flavor profile.
3. Double Actuator -- Bottle Logic Brewing (Anaheim) Not only does "double" or "imperial" mean you IPA will be higher in alcohol content, but it also means a more predominant bitter taste. The hops pack quite the punch, and one glass will get you buzzing. Yeah, there are Double IPAs are getting more and more normal, especially for hopheads, but Bottle Logic's Double Actuator fills the nose with citrus and tropical fruit while going down with a refreshing crisp that make your lips pucker and smile at the same time.
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2. Big Whig IPA -- Noble Ale Works (Anaheim) If Noble Ale Works is known for anything, it's their incredibly bold beer. Naughty Sauce, their golden coffee milk stout, may be on t-shirts but their flagship Big Whig IPA deserves a medal. From its color to its balance in taste, Big Whig stands as one of the best representations of a good ol' American IPA. Orange County should count its lucky stars.
And the big winner is... 1. All of their IPAs -- Beachwood BBQ (Long Beach, Seal Beach) These guys must take the crowning #1 because they don't only make a wide variety of IPAs, they make a wide variety of world-class IPAs. While their fast-selling Thrillseeker, Hop Ninja, and Laurel IPAs rotate on a special release schedule, their perfectly balanced Melrose IPA quenches any hop-lover's thirst. A bright citrus and tropical fruit aroma with similar tasting notes accented by a dry, yet delightful, pine finish is any beer-lover's dream. Go drink all of them.