Unless you’ve been under a rock, you know the craft beer market in the USA is exploding, with dramatic gains of 19% in 2013. IPAs or India Pale Ales are at the forefront of this burgeoning craft beer market, growing 44% in 2013 to sales of $349 million! As the number of craft breweries in the USA surpasses 2500, many are switching to distribution in cans.
The stigma many attach to beer in cans as being inferior or mass-produced swill, is rapidly being eroded as more and more craft brewers switch to cans. Cans offer many advantages over bottles such as zero light transmission, which can degrade the beer. Cans are lighter and cost less to ship and are more recyclable; a triple-play for Mother Earth. Personally, I like them because they fit better with my active lifestyle. I can throw them in a backpack for a hike, in my Camelbak for a ride or trip to the beach without worrying about broken glass or a backpack full of clinking bottles.
Given these trends, I thought it would be appropriate to review three popular IPAs from across the USA that are sold in cans. I chose to compare Snake Dog IPA from Flying Dog Brewery in Maryland, Deviant Dale’s IPA from Oskar Blues Brewery in Colorado and Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing in San Diego. These beers are pretty widely available in most parts of the country, so they shouldn’t require alot of effort to track down. They are all quite tasty and stand on their own merits. I suggest trying them all and finding your own favorite!
Pours a hazy golden amber with a thick creamy white head. Somewhat unimpressive but not unpleasant aroma of hoppy resins and slight floral notes. Dry and malty, with a moderate hop backbone and coppery metallic notes. I would consider this what I call an “East Coast IPA.” It is much maltier than “West Coast” IPAs which tend to be more hop forward with citrus and floral notes. Not by any means a typical “hop bomb” but more subtly enjoyable. A straight forward IPA that would be pleasing to most IPA drinkers, but probably not their favorite.
Pours a reddish, coppery color with an off-white creamy head that lasts and lasts and has excellent lacing. Wonderful fruity, almost sweet aroma with notes of pine. This beer presents itself as crisp and hoppy on the first sip, with strong resinous hop notes balanced with a solid but unobtrusive malt backbone. Slight alcohol taste is present as this beer straddles the line of being a double IPA. Overall a very drinkable and enjoyable IPA leaning a little more toward the sweet side. Extra bonus: sold in pint cans as opposed to 12oz cans.
Pours a clear, light, golden amber with a bright white creamy head. Smell is pleasing with citrus, pine and floral notes. Initial taste is crisp, fruity, hoppy and refreshing with notes of grapefruit. Much lighter mouthfeel than the previous two beers reviewed. More of an astringent, bitter taste with then flows into sweeter notes with subtle biscuit malt and spruce notes, finishing with balanced tartness and caramel sweetness. If you like hoppy “West Coast” IPAs, you can’t go wrong with Sculpin. An outstanding complex “hob bomb” destined to be the favorite IPA of many.
Tasting notes were made using the 33 Bottles of Beer Tasting Notebook available here for $4.95. If you are a hiker or cyclist, I also recommend picking up a Port-A-Pint Folding Beer Glass. A great compact way to pour yourself a drink anywhere.