Wisconsin Brews Didn’t Make the List of 50 Best American IPAs

Determining the best IPAs in America is no small task, but Draft Magazine took it on. In related news, in early August Wisconsin brewers will find out who makes the best IPAs in the state.

Draft Magazine Ranked the Top 50 IPAs

Last week, Draft Magazine released its list of the top 50 IPAs in America. The good folks at the respected magazine tasted their way through 386 IPAs submitted by brewers across the country, found their best 50, and let the debate ensue.

The process is by no means flawless. It’s nearly impossible to ask for submissions from every brewery in the country, and Draft Magazine couldn’t ensure that every brewer who was asked sent in a beer for sampling. For example, The Alchemist Focal Banger is notably absent, but only because Draft didn’t receive it as a submission.

The results from the 2015 Great Wisconsin IPA Taste Test. Photos by Adam Ryan Morris.
Changing Tastes

Regardless, it’s still an amazingly comprehensive look at outstanding IPAs and it provided some takeaways. For one, there are a ton of really good IPAs that I still need to try. And, it’s clear how IPA tastes have shifted. Big, fruity brews faired well, while a classic like Ballast Point Sculpin—a perfect balancing act between bitterness and malt that not long ago was considered the gold standard for IPAs—didn’t break the top 50. (Full disclosure, my tastes have swung the same way and I’ve enthusiastically boarded the New England IPA bandwagon.)

The Best IPAs in Wisconsin

Sadly, Wisconsin entries were noticeably absent. Two years ago, Milwaukee Magazine hosted the informal Great Wisconsin IPA Taste Test, where a small panel of judges crowned Ale Asylum Velveteen Habit as the best in the state.

There are a lot more IPAs to choose from now, and thanks to the Milwaukee Craft Brewery League, local beer lovers can soon put together their own list of the top IPAs in Wisconsin. The MCBL hosts the Wisconsin IPA Fest on Saturday, August 5 at Third Space Brewing (1505 W. St. Paul Ave.) from noon to 5 p.m. The league has asked all of the breweries and brewpubs in Wisconsin to submit their best IPAs for judging.

According to Third Space brewmaster Kevin Wright, as of now there are more than 30 participants from across Wisconsin. The only rule for submissions is that they need to be between 5.5 and 7.9 percent ABV. The interpretation of the style is up to each brewer.

“IPA is the most popular craft beer style in the country and something that many brewers and beer lovers are very passionate about,” explained Wright. “Often times people look to the West Coast or East Coast for great IPAs but we feel there are amazing examples of the style being brewed in Wisconsin and we want to recognize that. Fest goers will get a rare chance to sample awesome IPAs from all over the state in one spot and brewers and other industry folks will come together to crown an overall Wisconsin IPA champion. We are huge fans of IPAs at Third Space and we are excited to host hopefully the first of an ongoing annual IPA celebration and friendly competition.”



Dan Murphy has been reviewing bars for Milwaukee Magazine for roughly 15 years. He’s been doing his own independent research in them for close to 25.