Beer & Wine

South Florida's Ten Best IPAs

The Shadow Walker DIPA from Devour Brewing Company in Boynton Beach.
The Shadow Walker DIPA from Devour Brewing Company in Boynton Beach. Photo by Nicole Danna
This Thursday, August 3, beer lovers across the nation will honor National IPA Day, an official cheers to one of craft beer's most iconic styles.

Founded in 2011, IPA Day is a global celebration of hoppy beer made famous for its resiliency during long sea voyages by ship from England to India, hence the term IPA, short for "India pale ale." Today the holiday has expanded into a worldwide celebration boasting thousands of international IPA-themed events.

The Brewers Association recognizes only two types of IPA, the flagship style of the American craft beer movement: American IPA and imperial IPA (or double IPA, abbreviated DIPA), each brewed with American-grown hops known for their citrusy, bitter, piney aromas. But what makes a good IPA? Like so many beer styles, it's a matter of personal preference for most. Overall, however, it's generally a balance of hop-forward bitterness and malty sweetness supported by a strong hop aroma.
In South Florida, a number of breweries offer their own version of the IPA. Most recently, some brewers are also developing varieties infused with tropical fruits and flavors to reflect the regional climate.

Here are the ten most interesting IPAs from Miami-Dade to Palm Beach County.
click to enlarge Pink Froyd - NICOLE DANNA
Pink Froyd
Nicole Danna
1. Pink Froyd, Holy Mackerel Brewing and Descarga Brewing Company. Rans of the Miami-based Descarga Brewing Company can get a taste of the soon-to-open brewery's beers at the Pompano Beach-based Holy Mackerel. For the next few months, locals can find Descarga head brewer Manny Jannes brewing alongside Holy Mackerel's Bobby Gordash. The two are creating some interesting riffs on a number of styles, including their most recent addition: a fruity pink IPA they've dubbed Pink Froyd. The IPA boasts a ton of citrus notes that scream ruby red grapefruit but, surprisingly, is really a combination of Cascade, El Dorado, and Citra hops (dry-hopped with even more Citra, Mosaic, and Chinook), giving the beer its flavor profile and zesty nose, while the blush of vibrant pink comes courtesy of ripe dragon fruit. 3260 NW 23rd Ave., Suite 400, Pompano Beach; 954-532-0196;
click to enlarge The El Farito IPA from Miami's Tank Brewing Company. - PHOTO BY NICOLE DANNA
The El Farito IPA from Miami's Tank Brewing Company.
Photo by Nicole Danna
2. El Farito, the Tank Brewing Company. When the Tank opened in April, brewer Moh Saaded debuted the brewery's core brands, from his La Finca Belgian wheat saison to the Freedom Tower amber ale. The launch also included his El Farito American IPA, named for Key Biscayne’s Cape Florida lighthouse, better known to locals as El Farito. The Tank crew dubs the brew a light-bodied, easy-drinking Southeast American-style IPA that offers an intense hoppy nose of citrus and tropical fruit courtesy of Cascade, Blanc, and Sterling hops. 5100 NW 72nd Ave., Bay A-1, Miami; 786-801-1554;
click to enlarge The Northeast-style Frank White IPA with pineapple from J. Wakefield Brewing in Wynwood. - PHOTO COURTESY OF J. WAKEFIELD BREWING
The Northeast-style Frank White IPA with pineapple from J. Wakefield Brewing in Wynwood.
Photo courtesy of J. Wakefield Brewing
3.  Frank White IPA, J. Wakefield Brewing. J. Wakefield Brewing in Wynwood might be best known for its adjunct-filled stouts and fruited Berliners, but that doesn't mean head brewer and founder Jonathan Wakefield doesn't know a thing or two about IPAs. Though the brewery's Hop for Teacher IPA can be found on tap year-round and out in local distribution, it's his one-off Frank White Northeast-style IPA with pineapple that best embodies the recent South Florida approach to the popular style. Canned twice now, it was first brewed for (and in collaboration with) the Hawthorne Bottle Shoppe in St. Petersburg. 120 NW 24th St., Miami; 786-254-7779;
click to enlarge The Neon white IPA from MIA Beer Company in Doral. - PHOTO BY NICOLE DANNA
The Neon white IPA from MIA Beer Company in Doral.
Photo by Nicole Danna
4. Neon White IPA, MIA Beer Company. Neon was first brewed in September 2016 by Mike Demetrus, MIA Beer Company’s head brewer. Not many people know the recipe was inspired by another MIA beer, El Cuco, what began as a lighter version of today's stronger Neon, which clocks in at 7.5 percent ABV. This cloudy and citrusy wheat beer is brewed with Pilsner malt and white wheat, officially classifying it as a white IPA. The addition of the wheat gives the beer its cloudy haze. MIA founder Eddie Leon describes this specialty-style beer, which he recently began canning, as "juicy but without any juice." It's thanks to the use of only Citra hops, employed for both bittering and aroma and develops into a smooth, floral, and citrusy flavor. 10400 NW 33rd St., Doral; 305-567-5550;
click to enlarge The Shadow Walker DIPA from Devour Brewing Company in Boynton Beach. - PHOTO BY NICOLE DANNA
The Shadow Walker DIPA from Devour Brewing Company in Boynton Beach.
Photo by Nicole Danna
5. Shadow Walker DIPA, Devour Brewing Company. In Palm Beach County, Devour Brewing Company head brewer and owner Chip Breighner is producing a trio of Northeast-style IPAs that has hop heads flocking to his Boynton Beach taproom come release day. The lineup currently includes his Woolbright Pale Ale, Visual Chaos IPA, and Shadow Walker double IPA, each one an excellent example of an India pale ale. What sets Devour IPAs apart from others is Breighner's frequent use of hop varieties not often seen in the area's regional styles. That includes the 007 hops he uses in his longtime favorite, Mosaic to My Ears, a 70 IBU and 7 percent ABV IPA that gives IPA lovers an alternative to his Northeast lineup. You'll also find Belma and Vic Secret in his Visual Chaos, while the Shadow Walker DIPA packs the most punch, brewed with a combination of CTZ, Amarillo, Azacca, and Idaho hops, which deliver a full-bodied mouthfeel, beautiful golden haze, fragrant hop aroma, and a well-balanced bitter-to-malty backbone. 1500 SW 30th Ave., #4, Boynton Beach; 561-806-6011;
click to enlarge The Humble Noble IPA from Caribbean Craft Legacy Brewers in Opa Locka. - PHOTO BY NICOLE DANNA
The Humble Noble IPA from Caribbean Craft Legacy Brewers in Opa Locka.
Photo by Nicole Danna
6. Humble Noble IPA, Legacy Caribbean Craft Brewery. Legacy partners Ismael and Hector Fernandez have been serving their Humble Noble IPA since their homebrewing days. The Opa-locka brewery is best known for crafting everything by hand and in small batches, from cultivating their own yeast to roasting their own grains. Known for its use of only Noble hops, another name for traditional European hops, the brewery's core IPA is considered a "gateway" India pale ale for its nonbitter, fruity flavor profile. The recipe is an homage to Ismael's grandfather — a professional brewer from the Dominican Republic — who taught him an old technique for crushing and blending whole leaf hops. Today the recipe calls for four varieties that Ismael says packs a punch of tropical aroma and flavor without a ton of hop bite. 13416 NW 38th Ct., Opa-locka; 786-681-6572;
click to enlarge IPA1A from 26 Degrees Brewing Company in Pompano Beach. - PHOTO BY NICOLE DANNA
IPA1A from 26 Degrees Brewing Company in Pompano Beach.
Photo by Nicole Danna
7. IPA1A, 26 Degree Brewing Company. In Pompano Beach, Greg Lieberman's IPA1A is 26 Degree Brewing Company's flagship IPA. The name and recipe are thanks to Lieberman's longtime friend and homebrewer, Chris "Huck" Hatcher, who created the beer several years ago. It's also the first beer the brewery began canning this past April and is one you can always find at the Pompano Beach taproom. Lieberman says he concentrates just as much on his grain and malt profile for the beer as he does the hops, something that gives his IPA its deep amber hue and sweet, malty flavor. While brewing, IPA1A calls for nothing but Citra hops, he adds; tons of it is added to the boil but for less time, a way to impart more flavor with less bitterness, making it an easy-drinking, supersmooth IPA. 2600 E. Atlantic Blvd., Pompano Beach; 954-532-6964;
click to enlarge The new Stegosaurus Pants IPA from Due South Brewing in Boynton Beach. - PHOTO BY NICOLE DANNA
The new Stegosaurus Pants IPA from Due South Brewing in Boynton Beach.
Photo by Nicole Danna
8. Stegosaurus Pants, Due South Brewing Co. Head brewer Joel Kodner recently stepped outside Due South's well-known Category IPA series to produce his first take on a New England-style IPA, dubbed Stegosaurus Pants. Brewed with Citra, Mosaic, and El Dorado hops, it pours a hazy golden hue and boasts a beautiful dank hop aroma. At 6.5 percent ABV, this is one IPA that perfectly walks the line between bitter and smooth, offering a medium-bodied mouthfeel with a hop bite that doesn't linger and rounds out with an almost creamy, mellow finish. A ten-barrel batch will soon be available on tap at the brewery. 2900 High Ridge Rd., Boynton Beach; 561-463-2337;
click to enlarge The barrel-aged Double D IPA anniversary bottle release from LauderAle in Fort Lauderdale. - PHOTO BY NICOLE DANNA
The barrel-aged Double D IPA anniversary bottle release from LauderAle in Fort Lauderdale.
Photo by Nicole Danna
9. Barrel-Aged Double D IPA, LauderAle Brewery. LauderAle head brewer Mike White has brewed a boozy beer bomb with this barrel-aged DIPA, one of two bottles released during the brewery's recent third anniversary. LauderAle's double IPA, Double D, which is brewed with Cascade, Simcoe, Centennial, and Chinook hops, is always always on tap. To celebrate the brewery's three-year milestone, White went the unconventional route and aged the already strong beer six months in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels to create a boozy imperial IPA that packs a punch with 119 IBUs and 10.2 percent ABV. Find both the regular Double D and barrel-aged version on tap at the Fort Lauderdale-based tasting room. 3305 SW 14th Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-653-9711;
click to enlarge IPAs from Civil Society in Jupiter. - PHOTO BY NICOLE DANNA
IPAs from Civil Society in Jupiter.
Photo by Nicole Danna
10. Juice, Civil Society Brewing Company. Any self-respecting South Florida hop head knows where to find the region's best IPAs: Civil Society Brewing Company in Jupiter. Though the brewery is best known for its flagship IPA, Fresh, fans most covet its one-offs, such as the brewery's experimental Subject Series and its frequent collaborations with both local and nationally recognized brewers. For those who want something a little more accessible, however, try Juice. Head brewer Karl Volstad says he's been making Juice since his early homebrew days, and not much has changed since then. Brewing its IPA with flaked oats for a hazy body and a combination of Colombus, Amarillo, and Mosaic hops, the Civil team has changed the recipe only once by adding lupulin powder — a purified concentration of the resin compounds and aromatic oils in whole hop flowers — to create a more complex flavor profile. Just don't categorize these beers as being in any one style: Volstad and business partner Evan Miller refuse to classify their beer as Northeast or West Coast. "It's just an IPA, plain and simple," Volstad says. 1200 Town Center Dr., #101, Jupiter; 561-855-6680;
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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna