Beverage site VinePair names two CT beers to '25 Most Important IPAs' list

Two Connecticut beers made it to VinePair's recent ranked list of "The 25 Most Important IPAs Right Now," which features selections from some of the country's top breweries.

Athletic Brewing and Two Roads Brewing, both of which began in Stratford, earned nods for their versions of IPAs along nationally-renowned names like Dogfish Head, Sierra Nevada, Hill-Farmstead, Cigar City, Firestone Walker, The Alchemist and Tree House Brewing Co.

"The IPA is craft beer and to select the 25 most important IPAs in America right now is a balancing act of determining the beers whose impact on the industry is still indelible while not ignoring those modern marvels that define and sometimes redefine the category," VinePair's Aaron Goldfarb wrote. "Yet these are the 25 IPAs that remain as important as ever — or at least until next year when I rewrite the list again."

Athletic, the rapidly-expanding Connecticut-based non-alcoholic brewery, came in at No. 24 for its Free Wave hazy IPA. This year, Inc. Magazine ranked it the 26th fastest-growing company in the United States, making it the lone Connecticut company to crack the top 100 of the Inc. 5000.

"If NA drinking is going to remain red hot, if we’re going to count this sober outfit as a craft brewery — and the 27th biggest in the country at that — then their IPA must be inherently important," Goldfarb wrote.

Athletic opened a flagship location in Milford in June and also has a West Coast brewery in San Diego. The company recently received a $50 million investment from Keurig Dr. Pepper.

Two Roads Brewing made the list at No. 18 for its Two Juicy hazy DIPA, which the brewery describes as "unfiltered" and "cloudy" with "notes of grapefruit, pine, lychee, orange and tangerine." Goldfarb noted a category of "supermarket hazies" — IPAs readily found in grocery stores.

"For now, however, the ease of finding New England hop juice in any grocer in actual New England is hard to deny," he wrote. "This Nutmeg State powerhouse has recently released a 'juicy' variety 6-pack as well, which includes two cans each of Two Juicy, Lil’ Juicy, and Mega Juicy, their imperial hazy IPA."

Two Roads opened in 2012 and has grown rapidly in the decade since, becoming the state's largest brewery. In 2017, Paste Magazine named it one of the country's top 10 breweries. Two Roads introduced its Area Two brewing facility in 2019, a space for small-batch product development and experimental brews, and the product line has expanded to include hard seltzers and canned vodka cocktails.

Two Roads is taking over the former PizzaCo restaurant space across the street from the Stratford Avenue brewery campus, opening a new food hall early next year. The new 70-seat venue will offer three "craft casual" restaurant concepts, a full bar and an outdoor patio.  

Massachusetts' Tree House Brewing Co., with locations in Charlton, Deerfield, Sandwich and Tewksbury, topped the list at No. 1 for its Julius IPA. Tree House also has a cidery in Woodstock