The Mtbr Best Beer Guide

Buyer's Guides

Citrus. Pine. Dank. Bitter. These are all words that describe the hophead’s favorite beers – Pale ales and IPAs. The below list showcases some of the best hoppy beers available.

The Alchemist Heady Topper

One of the highest-rated Double/Imperial IPAs on the planet with a reputation matched only by its taste, Heady Topper is the one beer that all hopheads must try. Brewed by The Alchemist Brewery in Waterbury, VT, Heady Topper is an 8% ABV Double IPA that drinks unbelievably well, showing a very restrained bitterness profile that is very contradictory to the hoppy beers of the last 10 years, many of which had the uncanny ability to destroy the drinker’s palate. It tastes of rich oranges, tropical fruit, pineapple and pink grapefruit, finishing with a mild pine spice. With minimal malt presence and a focus on hop complexity, Heady is a dangerously drinkable beer that many people liken to “pure hop fruit juice.” Heady is available in cans, unfiltered, with limited distribution in the Northeast. Remember to “Drink from the can!”

Alpine Nelson

In an industry absolutely dominated by IPAs, Alpine Nelson is a beer that has very few rivals at the top. Brewed at a tiny brewpub in Alpine, CA (30 minutes east of San Diego), Nelson is a 7.1% ABV IPA featuring Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand and a malt backbone fortified by European Rye. It features a unique flavor of grapefruit rind, pineapple, earthy pine and crisp white wine with a light, yet distinct spiciness from the rye in the malt. It has a thin body and a bitter profile that doesn’t linger, but instead leaves the tongue dry and searching for more. Nelson shares the spotlight with Alpine’s other world-class IPA, Duet, which is a perfect execution of more traditional IPA flavors (sweet malt backbone with solid bitterness and a hop profile consisting of citrus, tropical fruit and piney resin). A handful of Alpine’s beers including Nelson see very limited distribution in San Diego, so your best bet is to head directly to the brewery itself.

Three Floyds Zombie Dust

The only single-hop beer on this list, Zombie Dust from Three Floyds Brewing in Munster, IN showcases Citra hops better than just about any other beer in production. Although labeled a Pale Ale, at 6.4% and 60 IBU Zombie Dust qualifies as an IPA and has the punch to prove it. It’s a perfect example of when a brewery focuses most of their hopping effort on aroma. Zombie Dust features flavors of sweet toasted bread in the malt and a surprisingly powerful aroma of orange and pineapple from the Citra hops. It finishes with perfect carbonation and a solid bitter punch. Renowned for its refreshing flavor and drinkability, Zombie Dust absolutely dominates every other American Pale Ale out there and is available year-round with limited distribution in the Midwest.

Boneyard Hop Venom

Although they’re a relatively young brewery from Bend, OR (a town with one of the highest breweries per capita), Boneyard Beer Company sets the new standard for West Coast Double IPAs. Hop Venom is their 8.9% ABV creation that has quickly become many a hophead’s favorite beer. It features tremendous fruity notes of tangerine, orange zest, floral peach and pine, with a malt base that allows it to showcase huge flavors but remain unbelievably balanced. Hop Venom leads the new style of IPAs and Double IPAs by featuring a complexity that is not dominated by malt or bitterness, but instead focuses on hop aromas from late hop additions and dry hopping. With bright, bold flavors and an unmatched mouthfeel, Hop Venom is a must-try for any hophead. It’s draft-only, so your best bet is to head to Bend or Portland, OR to try this beauty on tap.

Hill Farmstead Abner

What do you get when you mix artisan well water, masterful brewing technique, impeccable hop additions and one of the most isolated breweries in the states? Hill Farmstead’s Abner, of course! Hill Farmstead is a small production brewery and tasting room outside the rural, isolated town of Greensboro Bend, VT. It has a reputation of producing high quality, best-in-class beers on a very small scale, and with almost nonexistent distribution (available only in Vermont), the only way most people are able to try their beer is by visiting the brewery itself. Their most popular Double IPA, Abner, is a testament to the impeccable craft of Hill Farmstead. It’s bursting with floral and fruity notes of mango, orange and grapefruit rind. The clean, simple malt background takes a backseat to the symphony of hops and the strong bitter finish. One of the most renowned aspects of this beer is the mouthfeel; it’s creamy and full-bodied with perfect carbonation that is rarely found in the Double IPA category. This beer is worth making a pilgrimage to the brewery.

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.

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  • Mike says:

    I like the Stone Enjoy by and the Ninkasi Tricera Hop. Cute pick of all the boys in the tub.

  • HEMIjer says:

    Devils Backbone brewery in VA is a great bike supporter and has an eight point IPA worth trying ood stuff. Always can go to the old reliable which you have to keep stocked in the garage for post ride clean up, Sierra Nevada Torpedo.

  • JB says:

    The AA comment in one of the photo captions is probably wrong. That said, I’m not offended.

  • klurejr says:

    Why is this Josh’s list and the about the author is says Francois???

    • Mtbr says:


      Francis is the one who the entire compilation article is “published by” so it automatically shows his bio at the bottom on every page. There’s an “Editor’s Note” at the beginning of Josh’s guide and an intro on the first page about who our other beer reviewers are for this article. This article has guides written by Francis, Josh and Peter. Sorry for the confusion!

  • Kevin Woodward says:

    Hop Venom FTW! Nice to see 831 on the radar, too.

  • Thomas says:

    I’m from belgium if you like belgian beer you should most def try
    My top 5
    - Grimbergen (Optimo Bruno)
    - Sint Bernardus (abt 12)
    - Kasteelbier (tripple)
    - Westmalle (tripple)
    - Samaranth Urtel

    • Alex says:

      I loved Grimbergen Optimo Bruno when I had it in Amsterdam, but sadly I don’t think it makes it over to the States.

      I would add to that list Chimay White and Tripel Karmeliet – my top 3 Tripels along with Westmalle – and La Trappe Quad.

  • Bearcat Sandor says:

    For those of us who must go gluten-free because of celiac disease or other reasons, i heartily recommend Green’s “Endeavor” beer. They don’t replace the hops with rice flour or some other thing they just filter the hell out of it so it’s safe for us. It’s picey but it tastes like a Guinness and enables me to enjoy a beer once in a while. They also have a blond variety too. Check ‘em out:

  • roger says:

    You don’t know jack about beers! Lagunitas is undrikable, Pliny is over rated! Good thing not everyone has your taste buds!

  • DMFT says:

    What!!?? No mention (until now) of…………..
    Lost Coast – Indica IPA
    Green Flash Brewing – Green Bullet or Palate Wrecker
    Deschutes – Hop Henge Experimental IPA
    Drakes – Hopocalypse or Aromacoma

    Or possibly the most underated brewery & true OG’s
    Mendocino Brewing Co. – Talon

    Ok. The list is now more-complete. Rant-Over!

    Happy Holiday’s Ya’ll!!

  • M. Meteer says:

    I live and ride in South Korea. I find that the best beers are those that you brew yourself! My ‘brew club’ of five brew 5 gallons per week of tastie ales, porters, and stouts.

  • Wilks says:

    I just stumbled on this I think DHF 90 and Southern Tier 2X IPA’s are much better than Sculpin. Not sure why there are so many sculpin fans.

  • Crotchety Old Man says:

    Very nice list put together. Thanks! Now I have some new ones to hunt down. I feign at any mention of any Ninkasi beers. Not a fan one bit. But I agree with lots here about La Cumbre. I wish we got that as well as Santa Fe’s Happy Camper IPA in the Northwet.

    By this point in time Pliny has run its course. It’s overpriced and been overtaken. I’ll take Hop Venom any day rather than pay for the aura of Pliny. Not saying it sucks. There’s just stiff competition in the IIPA realm. That Deschutes Fresh Squeezed is really really tasty as well.

  • J. Green says:

    Ithaca Brewing’s Flower Power, Ithaca, N.Y. Always load up on the way to Windham.

  • Sheryl says:

    oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils with a Ten Fidy topper…

  • Madpixl says:

    Even the Heady Topper boys were said they were thrilled with Ghandi Bot at a race in Vt this summer… But you have to know someone to even get it ouside the brewery… so im not surpised you overlooked it.

  • ndinh says:

    ‘Don’t be a douche’ is right. There are way too many Mr. opinionated I know the best beer-beer geek everywhere I go nowadays. There are tons of great beers and just because you don’t like a certain beer or style doesn’t make it ‘over rated or bad’…i.e. Roger from above. Grow up buddy and keep an open mind and keep it fun.

  • Pope says:

    Come on down to Oklahoma and try some Coop Ale. Several different brews–Native Amber, Horny Toad, Spare Rib, DNR…they’re all good!

  • Shawn says:

    You mean, no Bud? Haha! The Goose Isalnd Bourbon Stout is the best stuff made!

  • Jon says:

    I’m from Philippines, the best beer in the country is San Mig Light

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