Food & Drink

The 8 Best IPAs I Drank at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival

Published On 09/25/2015 Published On 09/25/2015

Look, our Editorial Director Ben Robinson wanted to drink all 3,700 beers at this week's Great American Beer Festival and tell you about the best ones, but he couldn't do it. He only drank 3,699. Despite his great failure, he drank all the IPAs that caught his fancy, and now he's going to tell you about the best ones. Some are from breweries you've probably heard of, and some aren't. All of them are worth seeking out. Here are the eight best IPAs Ben drank at the 2015 GABF.

Lee Breslouer/Thrillist

The Brew Kettle Taproom & Smokehouse El Lupulo Libre

Double IPA, 8.8%
Strongville, OH

β€œI don't know what El Lupulo Libre means. Wait, I think it means 'Free Lupulo,' which was a Mexican killer whale freed by a small child. It was a very popular film too. [The beer] is about an 8.5% double IPA, but very drinkable. You can catch the hop fruitiness on the nose.”
 

Wicked Weed Brewing Freak of Nature

Double IPA, 8%
Asheville, NC

β€œThis might sound weird, but this tastes like a session IPA in all the best ways. Somehow none of the negative qualities of a huge double IPA are present in this -- it doesn't taste boozy, it's not too thick. You could easily drink too many of these on a 105-degree afternoon.”
 

Saint Arnold Brewing Co. Endeavour

Double IPA, 8.9%
Houston, TX

β€œThis is absolutely delicious, and they have a guy dressed in a priest costume over here [next to the booth where they pour samples of Saint Arnold's beer]. He kind of looks like the Pope. He's theoretically marrying people, there's a huge line. And if I had a little too much of that beer, and that beer was like, 'Let's go get married,' I might just say yes.”
 

Breakside Brewery Wanderlust

American IPA, 6.6%
Portland, OR

"The trademark Breakside IPA is a wonderful beer too, but this is the superior product right here. Where the regular IPA is straightforward, this is a little more advanced in the flavor. It's piney, and has a little bit of fruit. It tastes like you're drinking the Pacific Northwest, minus the beards.”

Flickr/C.C. Chapman

Lord Hobo Brewing Co. Steal This Can

American IPA, 6.4%
Woburn, MA

"I have infinite respect for a brewery that comes to this festival -- this festival that tests the will of men and breweries -- and only pours three different IPAs. Props to these guys just for their raw gall. And they're all kind of great. Their Consolation Prize beer is anything but. I think the one with the lowest ABV, Steal This Can, is possibly the best of the three, better than Boomsauce and Consolation Prize. Steal This Can had a lot of hops for a 'smaller' IPA, but was also refreshing.”
 

Jack's Abby Brewing Hoponius Union

IPL, 6.7%
Framingham, MA

"They didn't have an IPA. They had an IPL. But we're breaking all the rules and putting them on this list! But what's an IPA, anyways? In a lot of ways, without getting to technical, or perhaps incredibly technical, something with a lot of hops. Yes, this is a lager, but it trumps a bunch of IPAs that will remain unnammed that I've had this evening. This is a helluva beautiful, wonderful-to-drink, hoppy beer. Jack and his Abby are [unintelligible, but definitely something positive].”
 

Austin Beerworks Heavy Machinery

Double IPA, 10%
Austin, TX

"The men that leave factories covered in grease at the end of the day should probably not be picking up a six-pack of this 10% double IPA. They should pick up at least 3.5 of them and drink that. That should be their routine."
 

Societe Brewing Co. The Pupil

American IPA, 7.5%
San Diego, CA

β€œI don't know if you remember the horror movie from back in the day called Apt Pupil. If I was to watch that movie, which I don't believe is very good, I would drink a lot of these and just focus on the beer, because it's wonderful. Also, The Faculty was really good. [Editor's Note: We ask Ben to stop talking about movies and tell us more about the beer.] OK, fine. It's hoppy. It's a classic San Diego IPA with a little bit of an extra rip to it.”

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Lee Breslouer is a senior writer for Thrillist and has never seen Apt Pupil. Follow him to beer samples at: @LeeBreslouer.

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