“India Pale Ale”
Ahhhhhh! The ever famous IPA. Until about a year ago I had no idea what that three letter acronym stood for, I just drank a lot of it. I decided to broaden my very small craft beer mind and explore the dirty details about this delicious brew.
The IPA style is over 175 years old. When the original lager couldn’t sustain the high temperatures on the boat over to the British Empire, the IPA was born. Around 1976 the Americans became one with the art and new found love of brewing IPA’s. These IPA’s were packed with flavor, hops, and lots of alcohol. Alright, good facts, good facts, but I wanted to learn something I could contribute to conversation.
Let me lay it out. IPA comes sub-styled into three different categories
First and foremost…
American Style IPA
These IPA’s are made with high mineral content water resulting in the crisp, dry flavor. The medium to high hop bitterness taste is paired with the medium to high alcohol levels. Despite the high alcohol and hop bitterness these IPA’s are still fruity and floral with hints of citrus. Pictured above is by far my favorite American Style IPA, perfect for camping in the U.P. Two Hearted Ale is brewed by Bell’s Brewing Company and provides a crisp taste with high alcohol content to help you relax.
English Style IPA
These IPA’s also have a medium to high “hoppy” bitterness taste. Most fall in love with this style because of its earthy and herbal personality. This unique herbal personality is from the different hops used that originate from all over the world. This beer is usually fruity with a medium to high flowery taste. English style is almost always a pale to deep copper color. Blind Faith pictured above is brewed by Magic Hat Brewing Co. Well balanced between a deep malty flavor and refreshing hop bitterness.
Last But Not Least…
Imperial or Double Style IPA
If you are looking for a beer that you can taste, this style is for you. Usually using a whole cone hop brewing technique, this style has a deep “hoppy” bitterness matching the deep aroma and flavor. This style offers the most variety when choosing the types of hops to use (which explains the deep flavor). Despite the deep flavor this style still stays true to IPA character and keeps the flavor balanced with other unique alcohol flavors. Color varies from deep golden to a light copper. (These are my personal favorite). Pictured above is a beer called Hoptimum brewed by Sierra Nevada Company. This beer has strong hints of rose, grapefruit and most obvious to me, cedar.
—–Okay, so I’m not a complete beer aficionado yet, but hopefully this helps me hold my own when the next bystander at the bar asks me about that IPA I’m drinking.