The best hoppy beers? An expert shares 4 of his favorite IPAs

Two glasses of beer, clinking in a toast

Known for their bold flavors and hoppy bite, IPAs come in many profiles.

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Grabbing a post-round beer is a deep-rooted golf tradition, but it hasn’t always offered a lot of options. For generations, clubhouse choices — in the bottle and on draft — pretty much boiled down to the big-name brands that advertise during NFL games.

Times have changed.

In a brave new world of microbreweries and other craft productions,19th holes now brim with an array of beers in myriad styles, none more popular than IPAs, or India Pale Ales. With origins that trace at least as far back as the 1800s, as England ramped up exports of its ales to India, IPAs are typically higher in alcohol content than ordinary beers, a trait that helped them stay fresh during long those shipping voyages. They are also known for being high in hops.

That’s a broad description for a beer category that itself comes in a dizzying variety of profiles. So how do you pick one that suits your palate?

Max Goodman is the general manager at Quarterdeck, a bustling restaurant at Sea Pines Resort, in Hilton Head, S.C., where hoppy beers — and other tempting beverages — flow freely. We tapped him for four of his favorite IPAs, in four styles.

Bell’s Two-Hearted IPA

When beer-lovers mention “traditional” IPAs, they are often speaking of West Coast-style IPAs, which, Goodman says, are known for their full flavor and robust, hoppy bite. This label, out of Michigan, fits that profile and earns high marks from Goodman for its consistency and dependability. “It’s a great year-round beer for a traditional-IPA drinker,” he says.

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Creature Comforts, Tropicalia

If you often pick up fruity notes in your IPAs, you’re not hallucinating. Hops themselves can give off that impression. But many brewers also add fruit puree to intensify those flavors. In the case of Tropicalia, which is brewed in Athens, Ga., those flavors include hints of citrus and passion fruit. Goodman describes it as a “juicy” IPA, with “well-rounded flavor that hits all the right notes.”

Voodoo Ranger, Juicy Haze

‘Hazy’ IPAs, which get their cloudy character from hops oils and fruity adds, are also known for their smooth texture and fruit-forward flavors. Voodoo Ranger, which was born in Colorado but now supplies the East Coast from a branch in Asheville, N.C., brews this IPA along “hazy lines,” Goodman says. Its citrus notes, he says, make for “easy drinking on a warm summer afternoon.”

Maine Brewing Company, Lunch

“Great for winter, or year-round,” Goodman says of this American-style IPA, which he describes as his “absolute favorite.” As versatile as it is delicious, it offers “the perfect balance of hops and flavor” and complements food without overpowering it. To Goodman’s palate, it pairs beautifully with dishes ranging from “roasted shrimp to a cheeseburger.”

Josh Sens Editor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.