Photos provided

For this edition, we decided to mix things up and not choose just one brewery, but a few that capture the essence of spring in Charleston. At this time of year, the skies are illuminated with the warm glow that lasts just a little bit longer. The chilly wind from the west turns warmer with each passing day. And for some reason, our favorite craft beer gets a tad more hoppy. And so, it is time to celebrate the King of Spring, the India Pale Ale, or IPA for short.

What makes an IPA different from other styles? Generally, it’s the hops. And boy, are there a lot to choose from! With roughly 150 species of hops worldwide, they are the spice of life … when it comes to beer, that is. Let’s look at some styles of IPAs and where to find them in Charleston.

Whether you are an IPA drinker, this style of beer is ever-growing and changing, thus producing fans of even the most skeptical beer drinkers. So before you start to say, “IPAs are too bitter” or “IPAs are too strong,” hear us out.

First, let’s tackle quick vocabulary. Here’s some buzzwords you might hear your beertender say include: 

Session = Low AB
(alcohol by volume)

Imperial = High ABV

Dry-hopped = Hops added during
fermentation; can be
double or triple

Wet-hopped = Moist hops added usually
before fermentation or
during the boiling process

With that out of the way, let’s move on to styles and where HOPS (the magazine) suggests finding them. 

West Coast IPAs 

Tropical fruit notes and a lower IBUs (international bitterness unit) are what defines a West coast-style IPA. Clean with higher carbonation, this style tends to be the introductory IPA. 

HOPS recommends: Coast Brewing, one of the first breweries in Charleston, located on the old Navy Base in North Charleston, is well known for its HopART IPA. First brewed in 2007, HopArt is an IPA staple on the Charleston scene. Brewed with Nugget, Millennium and Cascade hops, this IPA clocks in at a banging 7.7% ABV. 

Sungazer IPA. | Photo provided

New England/East Coast IPAs, aka Hazy IPAs

Perhaps you’ve heard, but New England and Imperial IPAs are currently all the craze. With massive grain bills and a boundless variety of hops, this style led to an IPA revolution. Enter the double (DIPA) and triple IPA. Starting around 8% ABV, these heavy hitters can range up to 11% ABV. A double (DDH) or triple dry-hopped IPA is one that has had double, or triple, the amount of hops added during the fermentation process. So yes, you can have a DDH DIPA. (Double dry hopped double IPA). Phew … that’s a mouthful, literally.

HOPS recommends: Charlestowne Fermentory, with two locations in West Ashley, “the Ferm” as we call it, is crushing the hazy game. Try its Sungazer IPA, brewed with citra and motueka hops. It is soft but dry at 6.8% ABV.

Strawberry Shake IPA | Photo provided

Milkshake IPAs

This is a hazy brew with added lactose (milk sugar) and other adjuncts, such as fruits, candies and even cereals.

HOPS recommends: Westbrook Brewing, located in Mount Pleasant is nationally known for many of its classic cores. And the Strawberry Shake IPA, 7% ABV, is a crowd-pleaser. Creamy and brewed with five different hops and three adjuncts, you suck this down like you’re a kid in a diner. 

Sparkly Princess IPA | Photo provided

Sour IPAs 

Combining two of the hottest styles on the market, the sour IPA is exactly how it sounds, a kettle-soured IPA.

HOPS recommends: Holy City Brewing, an all-encompassing Park Circle destination, offers an ever-evolving menu and rotation of craft brews. Sparkly Princess, brewed for the Charleston City Paper’s 2017 Best of Charleston awards, is tart and juicy-brewed and dry-hopped with El Dorado hops. Easily crushed at 6.6% ABV.

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