I love beer. I’ll drink anything from banquet beers (Keystone most often due to my Colorado roots) to specialty craft beers.

For my first Hoppy Life post, I wanted to talk about my favorite brew of ale, the IPA. Most often characterized for the added hops and higher alcohol percentage, the IPA is an acquired taste. Something in my nature has drawn me to these hoppy ales and I’ll order them if they’re on draft more times than not.

So, being that I began my drinking days in Colorado, this is a tribute to the IPA’s brewed throughout the state. With more than 100  micro-breweries located throughout the state, and with the most breweries per capita in the country, Colorado is always a good place to start, and end.

This list of the top-five IPA’s brewed in Colorado encompasses the artisan beers, the Double IPA’s, and all the other IPA’s I’ve put down. Think there are better ones in the state? Let me know. It’s always good to remember, it’s hard to go wrong with beer in Colorado.

TOP-FIVE: Colorado IPA’s

5. Modus Hoperandi, Ska Brewing Co., Durango, CO. 6.8 % Alc.

This IPA smells much more balanced than it tastes. The floral aroma masks the dark amber color of the beer and its more bitter than refreshing taste. But hey, the reason I like IPA’s is because of the depth the bitterness adds to the taste. One of the few canned IPA’s I would ever drink, Modus Hoperandi comes in fifth on the Colorado list.

4.Mojo IPA. Boulder Beer Company. Boulder, CO. 6.8 % Alc.

The key to a good IPA is a balance of the extra hops, malt, and alcohol. The Mojo IPA, part of the Boulder Beer Company’s Looking Glass series, is a good example of this simple balance. The aroma expectantly smells of hops with a hint of floral accents. It is sharp though, and produces a catch in the throat almost like there is a smokiness to it.

The Amarillo and Centennial hops used in this IPA gives it a sharp ending with a slight citrus finish. My favorite IPA’s don’t leave the mouth tasting like grass, but rather that you smelt wet grass in a breeze and can’t wait till the next breeze comes. The Mojo IPA is just that.

3. Myrcenary Double IPA. Odell Brewing Company, Ft. Collins, CO. 9.6 % Alc.

Like I said, the balance between hop, malt and alcohol makes a good IPA, double all of those ingredients and the chemistry is even harder. Myrcenary has mastered this alchemy. Named after Myrcene, an essential oil from the hop flower, this Double IPA packs a punch, and not just because of its alcohol content.

Smelling the beer is like sticking your nose inside the hop flower. It is fresh, prematurely flavorful, and even fruity. I get hints of pineapple and paradise fruits whenever I simply smell it. With the double hops, it would be easy to think this IPA is more bitter than a fistful of grass, but it’t not. Odell Brewing Company found the perfect, potent balance between all ingredients.

2. India Pale Ale, Odell Brewing Company, Ft. Collins, CO. 7.0% Alc.

Odell Brewing Company brewers must be descendants of the first british travelers to take the pale ale to India because they have got the IPA as close to perfected as possible. Simplify their Double IPA and you have an equally good classic IPA.

It has the same floral aroma but instead of a sense of fruit coming through in the aroma, it is more of a sense of smooth honey. That may also be why this IPA does not have a sharp bitter bite after the swallow. There is not that pine-tree after taste that you can get with an imbalance of hops, but rather an aromatic finish that leaves as soon as the beer hits your stomach, and your tongue is ready for more.

1. India Pale Ale. Avery Brewing Company. Boulder, CO. 6.5% Alc.

The legend of the IPA goes as such: a brewer from Great Britain needed to preserve his ales on the long journey to India, not just for himself but for British troops. The best way to preserve them? Add more hops and alcohol.

 Four hops were added in this case: Columbus, Chinook, Cascade and Centennial. They combine with a hint of caramel to create the smoothest, richest, and most balanced IPA in Colorado. There is not bitter finish to this IPA as the malt takes over on the tail of each tasting. Like the Odell IPA’s, there is a taste and smell of citrus over the hoppy, hoppy aroma.

Mmm… Now this is my hoppy heaven.

Food Pairings for IPA’s:

Most seafood goes great with IPA’s. I suggest Ahi Tuna or scallops. Personally, in sampling each of these great IPA’s, I discovered a secret. Try a dish with a spicy fruit sauce. I ate a roasted chicken with apple slices and along side it a pomegranate chipotle sauce. The kick from the spice, in this case chipotle, is accented and tamed perfectly with the hops in most IPA’s.

Also good with IPA’s are cream sauces such as an alfredo sauce.