Why Does IPA Taste Like Grapefruit? (Explaining Hop Flavors)

The ever-popular IPA has many flavors; one of the most common of those is grapefruit. Some find grapefruit to be off-putting while others love it. American IPAs commonly feature grapefruit flavors, but why? What makes an IPA taste like grapefruit?

IPAs can taste like grapefruit because of the types of hops used. Hops varieties such as Centennial, Chinook, Amarillo, Simcoe, Strata, and Chinook can give the IPA a grapefruit flavor. If the beer is brewed with any of these, it may have some grapefruit flavor. However, it is possible to find an IPA that doesn’t taste like grapefruit.

For more information on why IPAs taste like grapefruit and if grapefruit is included in IPA recipes, continue reading. If that’s not your thing, we’ve also included a list of IPAs that don’t taste like grapefruit.

Is IPA beer made with grapefruit?

The grapefruit taste in some IPAs is potent and can lead drinkers to think the beer has fresh-pressed grapefruit in the recipe. However, IPAs aren’t made with grapefruit.

IPA beers are not typically made with grapefruit. IPAs with grapefruit profiles are generally a product of the hop varieties used in the recipe. Some IPAs use grapefruit during brewing, but it is not the standard. Additionally, not all IPAs taste like grapefruit.

If an IPA is made with grapefruit, it will likely say that in the product description or it might even be called a “Grapefruit IPA.” This means that grapefruit was used in the brewing process to impart real grapefruit flavors. Grapefruit IPAs will also use hop varieties that lend grapefruit flavors.

What makes an IPA taste like grapefruit?

IPAs are hoppy and bitter, and a lot of them have notes of grapefruit. In fact, the majority of American IPAs contain grapefruit flavors and aromas. If IPAs aren’t brewed with grapefruit, then where do these characteristics come from? 

The grapefruit flavor in IPAs comes from the hop varieties used. Some hop varieties contain potent grapefruit flavors and aromas and are used during the brewing process to lend these flavors to the beer. IPAs that use such hop varieties taste like grapefruit.

Grapefruit is one of the most common flavors you might see in the tasting notes of IPAs, but they aren’t usually brewed with real grapefruit. Instead, the grapefruit flavors of IPAs come from the hops.

Which hop varieties taste like grapefruit?

It’s no wonder why IPA beers taste so much like grapefruit; the hops that taste like grapefruit are some of the most popular and widely used strands in the world!

The hop varieties that taste like grapefruit include, but are not limited to:

  • Cascade
  • Centennial
  • Amarillo
  • Simcoe
  • Strata
  • Chinook

Each of these strands imparts grapefruit flavors and aromas to the IPAs. Some of these varieties will give the beer a more potent grapefruit flavor than others based on how they are used during brewing.

Other grapefruit flavors of hops include Apollo, Citra, Idaho 7, and Mosaic. Each of these varieties is used to impart bitterness to the IPA while giving it a grapefruit taste and aroma.

Popular IPAs that DON’T taste like grapefruit

Your IPA doesn’t have to taste like grapefruit.

There are several popular beers in the style that don’t have that distinct citrus taste but retain the hoppiness and bitterness. These beers often use different hop varieties and have notes described as piny, resinous, herbal, floral, and so on.

Here is a list of popular IPAs that do not taste like grapefruit:

  • Harpoon IPA
  • Tröegs Nugget Nectar
  • Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing
  • Dogfish Head Hazy-O
  • Sierra Nevada Torpedo
  • Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’
  • Brooklyn East IPA
  • BrewGentlemen General Braddock’s
  • Founder’s Centennial IPA

Want to know more about these beers? Keep reading!

Harpoon IPA

Harpoon IPA has its fair share of citrus notes but contains little to no grapefruit flavors.

It’s a balanced English IPA with refreshing floral notes complemented by a malty backbone. It has a 5.9% ABV with medium bitterness.

Tröegs Nugget Nectar

Tröegs Nugget Nectar is a seasonal fresh hop IPA that features Nugget hops. It’s an imperial amber ale with pine, resin, and mango notes.

It’s made with Munich, Pilsner, and Vienna malts to set the stage for the fresh hops. It has a 7.5% ABV with a sharp bitterness.

Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing

Hazy Little Thing is a hazy IPA made with Citra, Magnum and Comet hops.

It uses Two-row Pale and Munich malts with a blend of oats and wheat for a soft and pillowy mouthfeel. It has a mild bitterness and an easy finish with a 6.7% ABV.

Dogfish Head Hazy-O

Hazy-O from Dogfish Head is another hazy IPA and does not contain notes of grapefruit. Instead, it retains mango and pineapple notes.

It’s brewed with different oats – malted, milled, naked, and milked – and wheat for a silky smooth appearance and mouthfeel. It stands at 7.1% ABV.

Sierra Nevada Torpedo

Torpedo Extra IPA contains aggressive earthy and piny notes. The dank profile of this beer leaves its subtle citrus notes in the back against a minuscule malt backbone.

It’s made with Two-row Pale malt, Citra, Crystal, and Magnum hops. It has a 7.2% ABV.

Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’

Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale from Lagunitas is packed with biscuit and floral notes. It’s incredibly smooth with a clean bitterness.

It’s made with various wheat malts and uses floral hops that offer balanced honeysuckle flavors. It clocks in at 7.5% ABV.

Brooklyn East IPA

Brooklyn East IPA is a balanced, non-grapefruity IPA with notes of bright pine and stone fruit from the East Kent Golding hops.

East IPA is built on a toasty malt foundation with a sweetness derived from the yeast used. It’s a smooth and drinkable IPA with a clean and bitter finish and a 6.9% ABV.

BrewGentlemen General Braddock’s

General Braddock’s is an exceptionally soft, silky-smooth IPA that highlights drinkability and balance. There are no hints of grapefruit in this dank and zesty concoction.

It has a mild bitterness and pours a thick brown-orange color with a 6.8% ABV.

Founder’s Centennial IPA

Founder’s Centennial IPA rounds off our list for anti-grapefruit beer drinkers. This beer is dry-hopped with citrus-forward hops on top of its floral hop foundation.

It’s sweet and balanced with malt undertones and mild bitterness. It has a 7.2% ABV.