What's with all the complaining about IPAs? I love them. So much so, I subscribed to three different IPA beer clubs and I've got the dirt on which one is the best.
Hoppy American beers are controversial. Beer writers are worried that hops are giving craft beer a “bad name”. World traveler and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain thinks that craft beer should just be fizzy yellow stuff, and stop telling stories. Some even people go as far as to say that the only reason to like IPAs is to compete for who can drink the hoppiest beer.
Are you crazy to like hoppy beer? No. IPAs are delicious. And amazing.
You see, there are layers to IPAs.
As a homebrewer, I learned that there's a lot to appreciate about hops.
At the basic level, hops added at different stages of the boil (when making beer), contribute bitterness, flavor, or aroma.
Hops added earlier in the boil contribute to bitterness which balances the sweetness of the malt. When added mid-boil, they contribute flavor like mango, guava, and pine. When added late, they contribute volatile aroma which trigger olfactory senses and can remind us of not just food, but memories as well.
IPAs will even add even more stages to hopping, including first wort hopping, hop stands, and multiple stages of dry-hopping. I'll spare you the details, but consider that each option adds a different kind of hoppiness.
On top of all that, individual hops have varying degrees of alpha acids and a variety of essential oils which express themselves in familiar flavors and smells like tropical fruit, citrus, floral, and herbal.
What about dank? Not sure about that one. But I love it too.
Where the hops are grown, including soil and weather conditions, as well as their genetic origin can also contribute influence, just like the grapes that make wine.
Are you bored yet? Sorry. I'm that guy at the party…
Anyway, all of that is to say that IPAs are delicious. They are as complex as you want to make them, but to many people, they are just plain tasty. There's a lot of them to taste, and these three IPA beer clubs are a great way to get access to new and exciting IPA beers every month.
Table of Contents
Best IPA Clubs
Hop Head IPA Club
Monthly Clubs (AKA beermonthclub.com was smart, and they actually named their IPA club…the IPA club. Everything else on this list is basically a roundabout way of getting IPAs through “mixed” beer clubs.
The most obvious thing to like about this IPA month club, is that they actually deliver classic IPAs. What a novel idea, right?
All the other IPA clubs on this list pretty much focus on the hipster trend of juicy or hazy IPAs. Not into the hazy bois? This monthly subscription box of clear beer is what you need.
Actually, I'd say they do a step better, and they send you a variety of hoppy beers, not just the face-melting West Coast lupulin bombs. You get a nice mix of classic IPA, double IPA, American pale ale, hoppy lagers, fruity IPAs, Red IPAs, and other lesser known iterations like XPA, Belgian IPAs, and black IPAs.
There are a lot of ways to use hops in beers, and hoppy-versions of classic beers can taste really good! Personally, I'm a fan of hoppy saisons. Oh and yes, you will get an occasional New England style IPA!
You get 12x 12oz beers for $50, when you count shipping. They often run discounts on the first box though
Get The Hop Head IPA Club! (Discount Link)
I haven't written a full review of the Hop Head beer club yet, but it's on the list and I'll add a link here when it's done.
Tavour started as beer delivery service, where you could choose your own beer to be delivered each month. Actually, they still do that, and it's a pretty damn cool service.
They basically have access to some of the best and most exclusive beers from the newest and most famous breweries around the USA. The send you an app notification to your phone, and you build your box each month.
Recently, they introduced their own “curated beer box”, which ships 6 or 12 beers per month to you. Though the beers are curated for you, in the app, you can choose what styles you want delivered.
This club looks quite a bit more expensive, even with you ship the most frequent, and most beers option. It's $90 for 12x 16oz beers, so compared to the IPA club from above, you're paying 47 cents per ounce instead of 35 cents per ounce.
Keep in mind these are very trendy breweries, and some beers may be one-off brews. The premium price is there, but it just depends on the kind of club you're looking for.
Speaking of what kind of club this is, do they actually deliver good beer? Yes. They do. My first shipment was a mix of lagers and hoppy selections, but next month I'm getting all hoppy stuff to see what the mix is like.
Look at the image below. See what I mean about these being hipster beer selections? I just can't get Anchorage beer anywhere near me, and I live in California. Holy smokes. Parish? I had their triple IPA last month which changed my entire outlook on what a triple IPA could taste like (hint: not like radiator coolant).
I don't know what these beers are, so we'll see. Last month, however, I noticed that all the beers were definitely of the hazy nature. In fact, I got two milkshake IPAs, which is a brand new thing where they put vanilla beans in the mix.
It's delicious. I love it. Sure, some people hate on it, but whatever. It's a unique style. Very fruity, juicy, and packed with hop flavor. If you haven't tried a milkshake IPA, it's worth the experience IMO. It's not my go-to style, but I do like them.
If you don't like hazy IPAs, then this might not be the club for you, but I like it. If you're buying a gift for someone, try the IPA gift box. A mix of IPAs for $99.
Sign Up To Tavour Here (free to sign up for an account, then pick your beers or sign up for a monthly box)
Beer Drop focuses exclusively on Colorado Breweries. While that may seem limited compared to the USA-wide selection of previous clubs mentioned, Colorado is one of the hottest spots for craft beer in the USA, so there's a TON of styles and breweries available regardless.
If they don't make a beer there, you won't find it anywhere else. Some of the newest and most creative brewers and breweries are located in Colorado, so it's a good spot to focus on.
In fact, while browsing their beer selection, I realized that there were a few more IPA styles we hadn't seen so far in the clubs: brut IPA, double NE Style IPA, rype IPA, and an actual India Pale Ale (AKA English Style IPA).
Though this company doesn't offer a specific “IPA club” per se, you can basically customize your box so it's all IPA. Here's what that looks like:
For the basic package, you get two beers from 5 microbreweries for $40 plus shipping, so that's 10 beers for $45, or $4.5 per beer (12oz). That's actually a pretty damn good price.
There are upgrade options as well. Each upgrade involves how much “premium” beer you add to to the box and how much control you have. For example the PLUS upgrade, allows you to switch out two beers for special release or taproom only beers. The ULTIMATE upgrade allows you to this with all 5 of your beers.
Both options will include a couple of 16oz cans instead of all 12oz cans.
The trouble with this version of an IPA club is that the vast majority of IPAs you'll receive are hazy. Don't get me wrong, I love hazy IPAs, but there are so many more styles out there! There's only so many “juice bombs” I can drink before they start to taste a little one dimensional.
Of the shipments I've gotten so far, (almost) every single IPA was a hazy one, so keep that in mind. Update: Yes, just one was a double IPA (with no haze!).
Actually, you also have the option to add individual beers to your box as well. There are a LOT of other IPA and hop-focused beers to look through. Those prices look expensive, but keep in mind that's the price for TWO 160z cans.
You can even use the left side menu to search for specific styles of IPAs you want. I'm not sure how adding beers affects shipping rates.
Join Beer Drop Here (add as many IPAs to your box as you like!)
NEW: Half Time Hop Head
I just discovered this one a few minutes ago, so haven't done much research on it. Total $162 for 3-month subscription (minimum), and $600 for a 12 month subscription (that's $50/box).
They don't say how many beers you get, or give any examples of past beers, but they do claim to ship IPAs from around the world. Other clubs mention the number 12, so I assume it's a 12 beer subscription, with mostly USA focused IPAs.
I'm in the middle of a couple reviews of other clubs right now, so will update with pics and reviews when I get around to it.
NEW! Craft Beer Kings IPA Club
Haven't tried this one yet, but another IPA club has popped up. I've ordered individual beers from Craft Beer Kings before, and they were legit. You can choose 6 or 12 cans per month, so subscribing is easy.
I like the way each IPA club on this list emphasizes different aspects of their club. This one comes with a warning that they'll include single, double, or triple IPAs, ranging from 5% to 10%, and no guarantee that you'll get any specific kind of mix. I guess some dork complained about not getting enough high ABV beers to make it worth their money?
IPAs and hoppy beers can be divisive. Some folks love them, some folks hate them. As a craft beer lover, and frequent homebrewer, I think there's an IPA for everyone.
For everyone who tells me they just can't stand the “bitter flavor” of IPAs, I tell them that they just haven't had the right one yet. I mean, come on. Some of those juicy IPAs really taste like a mimosa. Am I right, or what?
Well, your “mimosa IPA” is one step away from a double dry hopped New England style IPA, and that's one step away from a session IPA, and so on. Before you know it, you'll be drinking a fresh hop, double dankenstein, three-wood barrel-aged triple dry hopped face melting West Coast IPA and liking it!
Jordan Smith says
This is the 4th year in a row my family has gotten this for me for Father’s Day and IPA Beer of the Month has never disappointed. I try my hardest to buy beers that I’ve never had before and every shipment I get is a beer I’ve never had so it’s really worth getting this present
Wow. Four years in a row? Definitely a fan of hops!
Do they buy you a full year subscription each time?
This is a very interesting article. I learned a lot about IPA’s but I was happy to learn about the 3 IPA clubs. I enjoy any beer, but certainly am not knowledgeable. I just drink it. However, my son-in-law has a radio program in Santa Cruz about beer and music. I am going to get him a subscription to Beer Drop through you site. I think this is the best option because he will enjoy choosing his own beer. Your article is just in time for Christmas. I am going to send my son-in-law the link.
Yeah, what can you do about beer nerds, huh. Sometimes, choosing your own beer is best for a guy who knows what he likes.
For me, I really like red IPAs and double hazys. Not a huge fan of the Black IPAs. I do like a Belgian every once in a while, but it’s not a daily drinker.
Anyway, so I get what you mean that it might be better to just pick what you like.
Still, it’s nice to get a surprise each month too, like with Beer of the Month Club, and that way you get to try more breweries from around the USA.
I haven’t tried any of IPA beers yet, but judging by your article here, I might soon. I don’t believe those naysayers. You seem to have a lot of knowledge on this topic since you brew your own beer (respect!). There are a lot of choices here to make and I’m not sure which one to take. Might as well take them all, but it would be too much. LOL
Which one do you recommend the most?
You’re missing out Ivan!
If you’ve never had an IPA, I recommend looking for the style called “Hazy IPA”. It’s very beginner friendly. Not to bitter, and you get lots of hop flavor. It can taste almost like orange juice sometimes.
You can also try a Sierra Nevada Pale ale. It’s not an IPA, but it’s a Pale Ale, and still pretty hoppy.
If you ever get a chance, the best IPA in the world is called Pliney The Elder. It’s made in California, but in-demand, so pretty hard to get unless you go to the brewery (Russian River). It’s won Best Beer In America something like six years in a row.
And PtE is NOT hazy! 🙂
Sure, PtE is not hazy, but it’s the best beer in the world! Worth trying for anyone new to IPAs IMO
I like beer a lot, and I always like to read some new information, but I have to be honest, I am jealous at you, not as you in person, but in my country (Croatia, EU), there is no any beer month clubs, there is no plenty beers to choose from, I hope that in future we will get some of those..
IPA beers are “unknown” here, in the last few years more and more companies are making beer, so the future is bright I think haha 🙂
all in all, great post, and great site. I’ll have to try some of your recipes for home made beers. Cheers
Yeah, Europe still has some catching up to do with American style IPA beers, but there’s definitely some good beer history from Germany, Belgium, and England. Sounds like the modern craft beer landscape in Croatia is pretty barren, but maybe you can get some good German or Belgian imports. They make some really good beers too, although they tend to not be very hoppy.
Learning so much about IPA is really massive and I must say that though, I have heard quite somethings about it, it has not been this much massive as you have presented it to be in here right now. I learnt everything including the 3clubs of it. I love taking beers especially new ones. This is great to see here
This is such a great point to hit at right around the holidays. I can see some people in my family would love these as a gift. I guess I may have missed it but is that for just a month and then you have to reorder for the next month or even skip a month. My cousin is really into IPA beers and even goes around the state to find some different beer creators to try. I can’t drink beer which sucks I used to love beer but have found out that I have Celiacs which means I can’t have gluten. But I will be sending some of these to a relative or two this year. I like your site and will be saving it for more birthday gift ideas. Thank you very much.
They actually make Gluten Free beer, but I don’t think there are any gluten free beer of the month clubs! Actually, there are more types of gluten free beer than ever now, since people are more aware of Celiacs disease and just gluten free lifestyles in general.
Tell your cousin to check out one of these clubs. It’ll save him the trip of driving around! Though I guess that’s kind of the fun of it, so go to the actual taproom and get fresh beer directly from the maker 🙂
Awesome article! I wish I could get some of these beer clubs in Canada. We have a couple up here but aren’t as good. I was a member of one from when it started, but I gave it up because they were sending a lot of things I could just get at my local specialty liquor store.
I’m a big fan of West Coast IPAs and the Black IPAs. I love the complexity of the hops flavours.
I will be back to your site now that I’ve found it for sure. Ever think of doing more brewery articles? It’s always been one of my favourite things to do is check out all the breweries I can when travelling.
I might do more brewery articles in the future. The ones I’ve done were kind of difficult because it took me away from the brewery “experience”. It’s hard to enjoy beer when you’re taking notes and pictures! I just have to figure out a way to do it though, to balance the content as well as the experience.
I’m doing some research now about beer clubs in Canada, so I’ll have to get back to you on that one. I don’t know if any exist, but they are popular in the USA, so I would think that there are some up there for you guys too.
We have some weird legal restrictions on shipping alcohol between provinces.
Canada Craft Club was the one I joined, when it first started my mom got me a 3 month membership, which I renewed for about a year and a half, but after a few months of beers that are so easy to come by in Vancouver I cancelled.
I haven’t really looked at others yet.
I agree that IPAs are delicious and more often than not amazing too. What’s amazing too is how quickly craft beer has taken off in recent years. Good to know about when to add hops. I’ve has home brewing on the back burner for some time and I feel like it’s about time to get into it, since the price of retail beer seems to be climbing by the day. I’ve been through Denver and can say that they do have an interesting craft beer industry. As such I’m particularly interested in Beer Drop, and I’m looking forward to checking it out further through your link here. Thanks for a great recommendation!
LOL seriously. When you’re paying $8 per can, you can save a lot of money brewing beer at home. Trouble is, you have to practice a lot to make quality beer that good, but with time you can do it. Actually, considering all the work that goes into brewing, beer is pretty cheap.
Feji ben says
Wow I must say I am backward I haven’t tried out any IPA beer before…. although I love beer but I am not particular about the beer I drink or what is written on the Bootle I just drink.but I would like to ask can I get some these beer clubs in Canada?
I don’t think these clubs ship to Canada, but there are some Canadian beer of the month clubs out there.
My friends like beer very much during trips. So it awesome to know about IPA. During our last trip in July 2019 they took IPA beers. Now it is very easy to get IPA beer in my country. One more think It also comes in different flavors. You can choose according to your own choice. I found my favorite one from your post.
If you are a beer lover, it is a great idea to join up with clubs like these. It is a great way to experiment with different types of beer and also get them at a discounted price.
I like that you have the option on Beer Drop to add individual choices of beer to your hamper, as let’s face it, we don’t all have the same tastes and we all have favourites. Being one of the newer clubs, is it a good thing to join up right now or wait and see if they last I wonder?
Thanks for all the information on these clubs, but with so many good things to say about them all, I am going to have a hard time picking only one to join.
I really like the ability to try new beers as well. When I shop at the same stores locally all the time, I tend to cycle through the same brands consistently as well. A beer club is good at forcing myself to try new stuff.
I haven’t tried any of IPA but your article definitely very interesting and the timing couldn’t be better. Right before Christmas when I’m looking for the gifts. I must to admit I am not knowledgeable but always open to try something new. I believe it’s the same thing with my friends and relatives. So, other than Hazy IPA you recommended to Ivan, any other you can recommend for the IPA beginner to try (or as a Christmas gift)?
Well the club is a good choice because you get a variety of things. I also think a hoppy lager, or some pale ales are good for beginners. West Coast IPAs can be very bitter, or double IPAs too strong, so if you are not a huge fan of hops, I would try those beers later.
I really enjoyed reading your review of IPA Beer Clubs. It seems you can get nearly anything on a monthly subscription these days. I especially like the idea of the Hop Head IPA Club. Not bad value and some good variety. Thanks again for a really informative article. Regards, Andrew
Yeah, if you like regular IPAs, then that’s the club to go with. None of the crazy brut IPA or hazy IPA stuff. You do get some good variety in that pack too, but they are more traditional styles, from both east and west coast, not just the craft beer centers like San Diego and Denver.
Always a beauty to learn about the beers from those who brew themselves. It shows that they really know all about brewing and they know their beer really well. I have a friend who is a big drinker of IPA so whatever people say about it is hardly believable especially when the comments are negative. You have written this well. Great stuff
Brewing a couple IPAs over the years has definitely taught me a lot about the beers I drink. After doing a Pliney the Elder clone and adding 6+ hop additions, I realized there were a lot of hops going into these beers! That’s why some of the triple dry hopped IPAs or hop-forward beers can cost more. They take more ingredients!
Still, it’s amazing that you can buy a basic IPA, or even some double IPAs for relatively the same price as a porter or lager. They use much fewer ingredients, so cost less to make.
Thanks for sharing an article to read to learn more about IPA beer, as a cook and a beer fan, I love to learn about something new, I’m always curious about craft beers, I wonder if the IPA beer month clubs you mentioned on your article ship also to Canada.
I think my husband’s two sons will love to have a month membership as a Christmas present
These clubs don’t ship to Canada unfortunately.
I haven’t done much cooking with beer, but I wonder what you could cook with IPAs. I know IPAs pair well with spicy food, or maybe even some fruity dishes if you have a more tropical, fruity IPA, but I wonder if you could cook with them too! Hops aren’t the best ingredient for food, but I do know there are some recipes out there.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge on IPAs! My father in law loves IPAs and I was struggling trying to figure out what to get him for Christmas this year! He lives in Eastern Montana where there are not a lot of choices for beer – everyone drinks Bud Light – so he would love getting to try new and different things!
Eastern Montana sounds like Bud Light country, for sure! An IPA club is definitely a good gift idea. There are many places in the USA that are very rural, and won’t get much more than a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, or Lagunitas IPA. Any one of these clubs will really impress your father in law IMO.
Wow, I had no idea how many variables were possible depending on not only when the hops are added to the boil, but also the weather conditions and soil they are grown in! It’s amazing to me how changing the timing just a tiny bit can dramatically change the whole outcome in the flavor.
I would love to try out new brews and subscribing to a club might be just the way to get a great variety in the mix. Do you have a favorite club of the 3 you have listed? Thanks so much for your input!
Yeah, hops are pretty amazing. They’re always breeding new hop varieties now, so you really get a broad spectrum of flavors and aromas. I brewed a single-hop pale ale with a variety of neomexicanus hop called “Medusa” that turned out pretty awesome.
It’s hard to say what my favorite is of the clubs. I haven’t gotten my beer drop yet (still waiting on the delivery), but there are pros and cons to the Hop Head club and Tavour. With Tavour, you have more control, and can add other beers, plus try more exotic, in-demand beers. With the Hop Heads club however, you get reliably good beer, solid IPAs, so they make a better gift IMO.
My dad is a huge fan of beer 🍺… I think he’d love these clubs. But sadly, they don’t ship to my country! Sounds like I might have to check out some homebrew recipes and start making my own IPAs! What do you think the best starter kit is for newbies?
Hm, I haven’t got a good starter kit recommendation right now. There are many. Northern Brewer has some good ones, but I’m not sure if they ship to your country, and it might be expensive. If you aren’t in the US, I’d look up a local shop in your area and they can probably hook you up. I think people brew beer around the world!
Then you can look up American craft beer recipes online.
Jack rabbit slim says
Being a hoppy beer lover too . I’m always looking for a new brew . I think what I like the most about hoppy beer is that I can have 1 or 2 and enjoy the flavors. The same with thicker beers also . It really saves me from going overboard at social events and get togethers . I learned quite a bit from this article, I thank you for the information and the thoroughness of your research . I knew about wine clubs, but never considered a beer club. Something to look into . Thanks and “Cheers for the Beers”…
Same with me. It’d rather have 1-2 really good beers and enjoy them, then pound though a case of Coors or Bud.
Wow, I’m having a l’earn something new every day’ moment on your site! I don’t drink at all so I thought I might learn something and boy did I! I have so many questions, I knew there were wine clubs but I had no idea there were beer clubs too. I also didn’t realise beer was so involved! I’m amazed you can get so many different flavours in one beer.
You’re going to hate me for my first question – does IPA stand for something or is it just a type of beer? I thought some of them were quite expensive but I find alcohol in general quite pricey and I suppose it’s what you’re prepared to spend your money on.
I noticed someone asking about gluten free beer only to be told that it exists! Again wow, I’m bowled over by the choices available and your knowledge is epic, good job!
Thank for the beer lesson, I love some of the names ‘More dodge, less ram’ what does that even mean! Very enlightening, krs PurpleLioness
IPA stands for “India Pale Ale”. It originated in England, with the addition of lots of hops to help preserve beer that was sent to India.
These days, India Pale Ale still refers to the English style, which is way more subdued than the newer, American version, “IPA” now refers to the American version, which is much heavier on hops, and tends to use more new world hops that have a more citrus, bright flavor/aroma versus earthy, floral aromas of English style hops.