The Best IPAs on Campus

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by Niko Ivanovic

From casual drinkers to beer addicts like myself, the India Pale Ale represents everything that is great about that perfect combination of hops, barley and yeast. From the smooth and sessionable, to the blatantly excessive bitter bombs of grapefruit and citrus, American hop-crazed brewers have elevated the IPA to the forefront of the craft beer revolution. With bright, refreshing hops and a balanced malt backbone, the style is both bitter and sweet, high in alcohol, and simply put, everything that a beer should be. My love for IPAs brings me to this week’s article, highlighting the very best that Madison has to offer.

1. Bell’s Hopslam

This beer is pretty much perfect. Like Two Hearted Ale on steroids, Bell’s Hopslam will punch your tongue to submission with giant tropical fruit hops and earthy pine flavors. Brewed with honey, the beer does an incredible job of balancing the intense citrus bitterness with a light and sweet backbone. The result is one of the freshest and simply best double IPAs in the world. Sadly, the beer is a seasonal, and you’ll have to wait until around February before it becomes readily available.

2. Three Floyd’s Dreadnaught

Unlike Hopslam, you can walk over to Riley’s and pick up a bomber (22 oz bottle) of Dreadnaught right now. Considered by many to be the best brewery in the world, Three Floyd’s, located in Munster, Indiana, makes a handful of different IPAs year round. With an incredibly unique flavor profile of pineapple, mango and tangerine, Dreadnaught is probably the brightest and most fruit-forward IPA out there.

3. Founder’s Double Trouble

Though Founders is better known for their phenomenal coffee and barrel aged stouts, the brewery out of Grand Rapids, Michigan makes a few great IPAs, and Double Trouble is no exception. The straw colored ale is reminiscent of Dreadnaught with bright tropical fruit dominating the palate.

4. Tyranena Hop Whore

I am convinced that Hop Whore is Wisconsin’s best kept secret. Located in nearby Lake Mills, Wisconsin, Tyranena really doesn’t get the attention that it deserves, considering the excellent quality of their Brewers Gone Wild series. Highlighting the series of bold and adventurous brews is Hop Whore, a perfectly balanced IPA with an amazing floral aroma and flavor profile.

5. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale

This is probably the most readily available beer in the list, but that certainly doesn’t make it any less amazing. Whether you’re sharing a pitcher at the Union terrace or picking up a six-pack, you really can’t go wrong with this standard for the style.

6. Founder’s Devil Dancer

The only so called “Triple IPA” on the list, Devil Dancer is not for the inexperienced or faint of heart. Coming in at 12% alcohol, the beer is very bitter and very sweet, with considerable alcohol heat creeping up your throat in the aftertaste as the beer warms.

7. Hoppin’ Frog Mean Manalishi

Though Mean Manalishi may not have as much pure concentrated booze swirling through its body as Dirty Dancer, it makes up for it with an astounding onslaught of bright and bitter hops. The beer weighs in at 168 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). To give that number some perspective, the human threshold for tasting bitterness is supposed to be about 100, so this is pretty much as bitter as it gets. If however, you are like me and can’t get enough hops in your life, this beer is truly fantastic.

8. Bear Republic Racer 5

The only brewer on the list to not hail from the Midwest, the California-based Bear Republic’s trademark beer is their west coast style IPA Racer 5. Not nearly as intense as the last two on the list, Racer 5’s strength lies in its balance and drinkability while still retaining full flavor.

9. Three Floyd’s Apocalypse Cow

Occasionally brewers will use lactose (milk) sugars in addition to the barley grains to be fermented by the yeast into alcohol. The result is a sweet and creamy “milkiness” that is popular in many stouts; in fact, so much so that the technique gave rise to the milk stout style. Apocalypse Cow is the only IPA I’ve ever heard of to use lactose sugars, and somewhat surprisingly, the result is a really good beer. Thick and sweet, yet bitter and juicy, the beer is definitely worth a try.

10. New Glarus IIPA

I can’t really talk Madison beer without mentioning New Glarus at least once. And despite its popularity, you’re probably never going to hear me talking about Spotted Cow. Instead I’ll focus my attention on their beers that taste considerably better. For example, take IIPA, arguably Wisconsin’s best representation of the style.

Honorable Mention: Ale Asylum Hopalicious and Bedlam, Central Waters Illumination, Three Floyd’s Arctic Panzer Wolf, Leinenkugel Big Eddy IPA

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MODA Magazine and the WUD Publications Committee do not endorse underage or irresponsible drinking. This article is intended for informative culinary purposes, and these beverages should be consumed in moderation by those of the legal drinking age.


3 Replies to “The Best IPAs on Campus”

  1. You, good sir, have excellent choice in IPAs. New Glarus IIPA continues to be my favorite. Too bad you can’t find any Dogfish Head on campus. 90 minute IPA = heaven!

    1. Thank you I’m glad you liked the column! I’ve had Dogfish Head 90 minute a couple times out in San Francisco and Denver (not sure why a brewery in Delaware can ship all the way across the country but can’t send a steady supply our way). Regardless, the beer is definitely incredible – huge boozy caramel malt notes with bright orange, tangerine, pineapple, and grapefruit from what i remember. Needless to say, if we could find it here, 90 minute would have easily made the upper half of this list. It’s worth mentioning that Riley’s on Gorham will get some Dogfish Head stuff, though I have yet to see 90 minute, but maybe one day they’ll get it?


  2. Dogfish Head left Wisconsin in 2011. Stone Brewing did the same in 2010. We’ve got so many good craft breweries in Wisconsin, but these two are some of the best in the nation…it’s a shame they left. I’ve had to resort to buying them from out of state!

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