As IPApril came to a close I have to admit, I was a bit sad. IPA has long been my nemesis beer but after spending a month focusing on that particular style I have grown a bit fond of IPA. Over the last month my I have grown to enjoy the flavor of IPA’s a bit more, especially British IPA’s. I’m still not a huge fan of high IBU, “blow your head off” IPA’s but I do have a better appreciation for them.
For those new to craft beer, here’s a bit of info…
HISTORY: There is some debate regarding the history of how IPA came about and who was the first brewer to create it. Legend has it that George Hodgson of the Bow Brewery in London was the first person to create IPA. But it’s just that…a legend. Though Bow Brewery’s “pale ale for India” was the top seller there is no evidence proving that he was the first to brew IPA.
The short story that most beer geeks agree with is that IPA was first created in England in the 1700’s. Beer shipped to British troops in India would often not survive the voyage to India and would spoil. Brewers discovered that adding more hops helped preserve the beer during the voyage. And viola….India Pale Ale was born.
CHARACTERISTICS: IPA’s of today are a bit different from the IPA’s of days gone by. Americans were drawn to the crisp, citrus notes the hops added and decided to blow the flavor out of the water. A typical American IPA is going to be extremely high in grapefruit aroma and flavor whereas English IPA tends to more on the sweeter, malty side.
IBU: “International Bittering Units” is a very important tool of measurement for IPA’s. Basically, it is a scale used to measure the bitterness of the beer once the hops are added. The higher the IBU’s the more bitter taste is created. IPA’s with high IBU’s are going to have a very strong grapefruit flavor and aroma. Many IPA drinkers in the PNW prefer their IPA’s to have at least 80 IBU’s. I lovingly refer to these folks as “hop heads.”
I tasted many IPA’s during the month of April and enjoyed a majority of them. Others, not so much. So below is a list of my favorites. You can find the complete list of IPA’s I sampled on my Facebook page.
Boneyard Brewing RPM IPA (7% ABV, 50 IBU’s) – sunny orange color, floral aroma. Subtle hop character w/orange sweetness. Crisp, sparkly. Well-balanced, medium body.
The Pike Brewing Space Needle Golden Anniversary 2012 Vintage IPA (6.5% ABV, 58 IBU’s) – Sticky/resin body. Cloudy. Candy-like aroma. Full-bodied, sweet, malty, with loads of honey character. Smooth, English-style IPA.
Alameda Brewing El Torero IPA (7.2% ABV, 88 IBU’s) – THICK! Unfiltered. Clover honey aroma, full-bodied, lots of sediment. Complex hops but they don’t dominate. One of my favorites!
Mad River Brewing Jamaica Sunset IPA (7% ABV, IBU unavailable) – Spicy, nutty, dry hops. Crisp, clean finish. Quite tasty!
Lagunitas IPA (6.2% ABV, 45.6 IBU’s) – Very hoppy! Malty with floral notes. Very crisp. Nice hop finish.
Deschutes Hop Henge IPA (10.6% ABV, 95 IBU’s) – Hoppy aroma. Honey/vanilla sweetness. Nice hop finish without the bitterness. Malty and well-balanced.
For those of you just starting out in the craft beer scene, I would NOT start with an IPA. This is the stronger of the beer styles and may be too hoppy and bitter for beginners. Start slow and work your way to it.
What’s on tap for May? How about fruit and flavored beers? I shall call it “The Flavors of May.”