Larry Koestler

Who is the Palest of Them All?

Posted in Craft Beer by Third Rail Beer on August 13, 2013

Photo credit: me

Back at the beginning of the year I took a look at The Top-Rated Beer Advocate American Double/Imperial IPAs by State, The Top-Rated Beer Advocate American IPAs by State and The Top-Rated Beer Advocate American Pale Ales by State (and then further broke those down into New York and Texas lists). As noted in those posts, I selected those styles for my data set because they are the three I gravitate toward most frequently.

Fast forward to six months later and those lists are a bit out of date. However, rather than relive that nightmarish process again, this time I identified the top IIPAs, IPAs and APAs from each of the 10 regional Top 50 lists Beer Advocate tracks — New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont), Mid-Atlantic (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C.), South (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee), Great Lakes (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin), Pacific (California, Hawaii), Midwest (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota), Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas), Mountain (Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming), South-Atlantic (Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia) and Northwest (Alaska, Oregon, Washington) – as well as what percentage of the Top 50 for each region the IIPAs/IPAs/APAs grouping was responsible for. The data yielded 129 total beers, though it is important to note that this is not a set of the 129-highest-rated overall IIPAs/IPAs/APAs on Beer Advocate, but rather a cross-section of the top-rated beers in those categories limited to the regional Top 50s [spreadsheet available here].


Interestingly, despite the West Coast’s development of and reputation for world-class double IPAs, the East Coast no longer plays second fiddle and hasn’t for some time. Of New England’s Top 50 beers, a region-leading 48% are either DIPAs, IPAs or APAs, followed by the Mid-Atlantic region, with 32%. The Pacific region doesn’t check in until 5th out of 10, with 30% of its list comprised of the pale ale triumvirate. Granted, there are a handful of factors at play here — in New England’s case it’s being almost singlehandedly propelled by Vermont, which is of course home to the highest-ranked double IPA (and overall beer) in the world in The Alchemist’s Heady Topper as well as Hill Farmstead, which boasts a brewery-high 7 DIPAs on the New England Top 50 (and 6 of which are among the Top 20 American Double/Imperial IPAs that comprise this 129-beer sample). That said, New England Brewing Company has also established itself as one of the finest brewers of hoppy ales on the East Coast, with its Coriolis Double IPA (22nd in New England, 32nd in the overall 129-sample list), Gandhi-Bot Double IPA (46th in New England, 70th overall), Fuzzy Baby Ducks IPA (7th in New England and currently the highest-rated IPA in the world right now) and Supernaut IPA (44th in New England, 67th overall) all in New England’s Top 50. Another factor is that in addition to myriad outstanding DIPAs, the Pacific is also home to some of the beer world’s most highly regarded Imperial Stouts and Wild Ales, which is partially why the Pacific Top 50′s percentage of IIPAs/IPAs/APAs isn’t higher than 30%.


This chart shows the shares of the 129-beer sample by region, and basically tells the same story as the previous graph. Given Colorado’s and Oregon’s substantial contributions to beer culture, it’s surprising to me that there aren’t more highly-rated DIPAs/IPAs/APAs hailing from the Mountain (7%) and Northwest (3.9%) regions. The Mountain region doesn’t check in until #74 on the overall list, with Odell’s Myrcenary DIPA; though the Northwest does have two of the Top 20 DIPAs in Boneyard’s Notorious Triple IPA and Hop Venom.


And the above pie chart is another chart that shows just how much Vermont (a state-high 13.2%) is dominating the hoppy ale segment, though California is of course the only other double-digit state, at 11.6%.

Some stray observations:

- It’s been an amazing year for Peekskill, which deservedly earned the Governor’s Cup for Best Craft Beer in New York State at the TAP New York Craft Beer & Food Festival back in April for its Higher Standard Imperial IPA. Higher Standard checks in at #32 on the Mid-Atlantic list (86th in the overall sample), but more importantly for New Yorkers, that ranking makes it the highest-rated double IPA brewed in New York state. Those familiar with Peekskill’s superb offerings won’t be surprised to learn that head brewer Jeff O’Neill is also responsible for the best-rated American Pale Ale brewed in the state, with Amazeballs coming in at 21st on the Mid-Atlantic list, and 77th overall. And another O’Neill creation still reigns as the Top American IPA in New York State, Ithaca’s Flower Power IPA (though it wouldn’t surprise me to see O’Neill eventually best himself in this category and earn Peekskill the NY state IIPA/IPA/APA triple crown with the tremendous Eastern Standard IPA).

- Ocean, New Jersey’s Kane Brewing Co. has emerged as among the top breweries in the Garden State, with three entries on the Mid-Atlantic list (not to mention the only entries from New Jersey): Head High (#23), Double Dry-Hopped Galaxy Head High (#18) and Overhead (#30).

- Moving south to my adopted homestate of Texas, it’s exciting to see 8 beers making the Southwest Top 50, with Karbach’s Hop Delusion (#12 on the Southwest list) and Austin Beerworks’ Heavy Machinery DIPA (#15) coming in as the top two American Double/Imperial IPAs brewed in both the state of Texas and the Southwest region (and 98th and 100th on the overall list, respectively). Lone Pint’s Pioneer Yellow Rose has unsurprisingly become the best-rated IPA brewed in the state of Texas, though top IPA in the Southwest region belongs to La Cumbre’s phenomenal Elevated IPA (#3 in the Southwest). (512)’s IPA also made the list, coming in at #39 on the Southwest Top 50.

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2 Responses

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  1. enosarris said, on August 13, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    We do our regions a little different (NY and NJ in a NorthEast package), but this is well done. The replacement level for pale ales in my calculation was highest in… the upper midwest!

  2. […] Salado Kriek and Drie Fonteinen Oude Kriek 2011 immediately spring to mind — but the APA/IPA/DIPA family is where my passion lies. All photos are mine, as beertography became my other […]

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