16 Jan 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Here are all the beers we gathered together for the write up, in no particular order:
- 8th Wonder – Hopston
- Brazos Valley Brewing – The Cause IPA
- Brazos Valley Brewing – Mama Tried IPA
- Copperhead Brewery – Striker IPA
- Galveston Island Brewing – Citra Mellow
- Karbach Hopadillo
- Lone Pint – Yellow Rose
- Lone Pint – 667, Neighbor of the Beast
- No Label – 11 Amp IPA
- Running Walker – Texas Reserve IPA
- Saint Arnold – Art Car IPA
- Saint Arnold – Elissa IPA
- Southern Star – Conspiracy Theory IPA
- SpindleTap – Hop Gusher
- Texas Beer Refinery – Mexican IPA
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
A mention has to go out to Karbach Hopadillo. Duh. After the buyout, this is probably the highest selling Houston IPA in the US. Tony received a Karbach variety 12 pack as a Christmas gift, and according to him, “Hopadillo’s still pretty good,” he shared with the team. Head to head, it came in at 8th place beneath a three way tie for 7th – not bad.
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.
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.