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Top 5 Best IPAs in Houston (Phase 1)

 

Top 5 Best IPAs in Houston (Phase 1)

Houston we have a problem delicious IPAs! We went to great lengths to do this write up. It was one of the most fun things we’ve been able to do so far and the post that almost never happened.

It all began with Chris and I passing time in traffic one day. He started with the usual, “Hey man, I had another cool idea for a post.” (We have tons of ideas that don’t see the light of day, but more on that another time.) He continued, “Since IPAs are the most sought after style in craft, why not write a special post dedicated specifically to the best IPAs in Houston, and we crown a couple of winners based on a blind tasting?”

Genius, I thought… Initially.

Then, as per usual, my strategic side kicks in and I instantly begin shooting holes in the idea simply based on logistics. “We can’t do a Best IPAs in Houston post! Houston’s too big. There are 30-some-odd freaking breweries. It’ll cost too much. We’ll need to buy a bunch of growlers – then, what about freshness? The list goes on and on. No way, dude.”

Chris, ever the optimist, suggested we break it up into phases. Phase 1 being all year-round canned/bottled IPAs in town with phases 2 and 3 to follow. We looped Tam and Nick into the convo and each of them offered their insight as we began planning.

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After listing out all the IPAs, we began categorizing them – seasonal, year-round, distributed, on-tap at brewery only, special (i.e. Red, Rye, Black,) etc. Just when we thought we were finished, our wives waiting with bottle openers in hands, we found out that Galveston Island Brewing began canning their mainstay IPA, Citra Mellow.

Soooooooo guys, who’s driving to Galveston for a six pack so we can do this top 5 IPAs in Houston write up justice?

*Crickets*

After a few weeks of gathering beer from all over town, and one long ass drive to Galveston Island, we did it. We had them all. We met up at Tam’s with a few other friends for a potluck meal just before Thanksgiving, and the Top 5 Best IPAs in Houston was born. Each of us brought a handful of the beers we scored, a few tasting glasses, and our own dishes for the potluck.

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Tam made us some beer butt chicken with one of his favorite beers as well as some bomb Brussel sprouts. Everybody else brought a dish or two and much of it was heating up while we did the tasting.

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Note: None of us are official BJCP judges or cicerones (yet), as you may have read elsewhere on the site, but here’s our take as consumers – just regular dudes that like good beer.

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Here are all the beers we gathered together for the write up, in no particular order:

 

We kept Karbach Hopadillo in the mix for this one reason: Although they sold out to AB, Chris still had a few cans in his beer fridge that we knew were untainted so we figured give them a shot.

Our wonderful wives gathered up the beer in Tam’s kitchen while we waited anxiously in the living room. They labelled and numbered each beer and brought each of us a few ounces as we sipped and jotted down notes. When we write any reviews on here or on Untappd, we always try and remain unbiased and discard any brand loyalty. That said, there are a few from the list that each of us know we enjoy and a few from the list that we thought we didn’t like as much.

We gave each of them grades on taste, aroma, overall, etc. and we had small tasting glasses with 2oz max, to ensure we weren’t wasted by the time we got to the end of the list.

It was 100% blind tasting so the best IPAs in Houston began rising to the top fairly easily after tasting just a few. The results were a bit surprising though!

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Top 5 Best IPAs in Houston, #5 – Saint Arnold Art Car IPA

Saint Arnold Art Car IPA is an approachable, fruity IPA that tiptoes the line between light and heavy. It’s something just bold enough that a true hop-head would love it; meanwhile, it’s light and easygoing. We averaged together all of our scores, but this one made it into everybody’s top 5 individually. Read an in-depth review on Saint Arnold Art Car IPA here.

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Top 5 Best IPAs in Houston, #4 – Texas Beer Refinery Mexican IPA

Texas Beer Refinery Mexican IPA is a citrusy, refreshing beer that has a picturesque creamy mouthfeel and lace. Again, it tiptoes the line between heavy and light. Heavy on the mouthfeel, but the citrus makes it refreshing. The bitterness is well balanced and everyone’s notes eluded to something about smoothness. Read an in-depth review on Texas Beer Refinery Mexican IPA here.

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Top 5 Best IPAs in Houston, #3 – Copperhead Brewery Striker IPA

Copperhead Brewery Striker IPA came in at number three, and according to the notes we all took, it was one of the more dank IPAs, but there’s some nice fruity notes too. This one being in the top 5 surprised all four of us. I’ve never had anything bad from these guys, but I guess, in my head, they’d fall somewhere in the middle. We’ve all said it before and we’ll keep on saying it: we’re more than happy to be proven wrong! Read an in-depth review on Copperhead Striker IPA here.

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Top 5 Best IPAs in Houston, #2 – 8th Wonder Hopston

8th Wonder Hopston was one of the very first write ups I posted on this site, (and I probably need to go back and revise it). It’s a bit more bold in flavor than those before it, but it has some floral, citrusy notes that seem to be a common thread amongst these favorites. This one was funny because Nick mentioned there’s quite a bit of trash-talk about Hopston in town. Sure fooled us!

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Top 5 Best IPAs in Houston, Honorable Mentions

Individually, every one of these it probably a 3 star beer or better, (and we’re working on reviewing each of them individually to confirm/deny it). Drinking them one after another – really evaluating each of them against one another – it helped a few climb to the top and it helped a few fall to the bottom despite the fact that they’re all good beers. SpindleTap Hop Gusher (In-depth review here) tied for 6th, and it was close, so we figured we’d give them a shout out too. Also, we wanted to build the suspense a little as you waited to get to #1!

Top 5 Best IPAs in Houston, Dishonorable Mention

Dishonorable mention goes to Karbach Hopadillo. Duh. No photo, either. Double-duh. I have to come clean, though. Tony received a Karbach variety 12 pack as a Christmas gift and only, ONLY, in the interest of the blog, he drank some of them. “Hopadillo’s still pretty good even though I won’t buy it,” he shared with the team. Head to head, it came in at 8th place beneath a three way tie for 7th – not bad. There are still 9 more beers waiting in the fridge to dole out to guests that wouldn’t care either way, but he drank those Hopadillos and guiltily enjoyed them.

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Top 5 Best IPAs in Houston, Biggest Surprise – Running Walker Texas Reserve IPA

Running Walker Texas Reserve IPA was the other tie at 6th place, which came to all of us as sort of a surprise. Of all their offerings, we’ve only tried a few accumulatively, but none of them were top-five-worthy, so this IPA was a bit unexpected. We had to drink a few more after this, so we could review it officially. Read an in-depth review on Running Walker Texas Reserve IPA here.

 

*DRUM ROLL…*

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Top 5 Best IPAs in Houston, #1 – Lone Pint Yellow Rose

Was it really any surprise? Going into this thing, we challenged one another to see if we could identify which was which as we were taking notes. Nobody got a single one right except for Lone Pint Yellow Rose. The fruity, citrusy notes of Yellow Rose prevailed and it was almost unanimously voted #1. You can read a few in depth reviews on Yellow Rose here and here.

Phase 2 will happen one day, and we’ll head out to try all the ones that aren’t in cans/bottles yet. Or maybe Phase 2 will be all the special IPAs that are canned/bottled? We haven’t decided yet, but this is something you should expect to see again one day.

Sooo, this one’s sure to stir some controversy. Let’s hear it. You think we’re full of it or we’re spot on? Let us know in the comments section below. And as always, Beers to you, Houston.

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Beer Chronicle Team
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8 Comments
  • Kent Bray
    Posted at 13:22h, 16 January

    You should take a couple growlers out to Back Pew Brewing in Porter for Hopostle (American IPA), and 9th Circle (black IPA), as they’re not canning or bottling them yet. They should definitely be a part of this. 🙂

  • Gary Greeson
    Posted at 18:16h, 16 January

    Don’t forget the DL double IPA at the Whole Foods brewery!

  • Chad Price
    Posted at 21:21h, 16 January

    The fact that you didn’t have Eureka Heights in your list of beers to try is why I can’t respect your results. Their Space Train IPA is top notch. So is their recently released Business Time IPA is great too.

  • McP
    Posted at 10:17h, 18 January

    Please consider Business Time frim Eureka Heights in phase 2. It is up there with Yellow Rose for sure.

  • Beer Chronicle
    Posted at 12:43h, 18 January

    Back Pew doesn’t do growlers (see here), but at least two of our authors have had both of those, and those are the kind of beers that’ll be in subsequent phases.

  • Beer Chronicle
    Posted at 12:44h, 18 January

    Gary, you bet! That’s the kinda stuff we’ll be looking to cover in future phases. However, this gets tough to manage!

  • Beer Chronicle
    Posted at 12:47h, 18 January

    Yeah, for sure, McP. That’s the kind of stuff we’ll be checking for.

  • Beer Chronicle
    Posted at 12:49h, 18 January

    You know what they say about respect: it’s earned. Make sure you read the whole post, though. In this phase, we only covered IPAs that were year-round and canned/bottled. Next phases we’ll do special ones (Reds, blacks, doubles, rye, etc.) and stuff that’s brewery release only. If we tried them all in one go, we’d be too broke to afford the site, and too drunk to write!

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