What is an IPA?
To follow up on our previous article on what is Craft Beer, I thought that it would be interesting to start a what is series. The aim is to better understand the various styles by providing more information, or even the history of it. The more we understand something, the less we come to fear it, and may even give you the courage to try a style that you've never tried.
IPAs have been one of the best selling styles here in AMLT. However, once in a while we do get customers that shudder and shun away the moment they hear those 3 magical alphabets. Of course, most of the time it is just personal preferences, but having spoken to a number of craft curious folks, the IPA is usually a style that is too aggressive for them.
What is an IPA?
Generally speaking, it is a style of beer that places emphasis on the hop flavours and aromas. It is strong, bitter and quite often misunderstood. But there are no other styles that represent modern craft brewing excitement quite like the IPA.
The IPA stands for India Pale Ale, and nothing is more interesting than the history behind its name. Many of you seasoned drinkers out there might already know this, but then again, the version that you know of is still debatable even till today. It is commonly believed that the English style pale ale was birthed from the need to feed the British troops and their colonies that were far away from home. However, locally brewed pale ales could not survive the journey to India, and the land was too warm for beer brewing. Therefore, hops were added in large quantities in efforts to preserve the beer, allowing it to reach its thirsty troops fresh and hence, the name India Pale Ale. The increase in hops also provide the IPA with the qualities that they are known for to this day.
But with that said, there were records of other styles of beers such as porters making their way to India and were enjoyed by thirsty soldiers and colonists. Whatever version it is, we can all agree and be thankful for this amazing hop forward style to exist so that hop heads like us can look forward to it at the end of the day.
How does an IPA taste?
Ask anyone who likes this style and more often than not you’ll get the same answer. You can expect a strong and direct hop aroma and flavour. By definition, IPAs are brewed to be hop-forward which means the bitter, fruity and floral goodness are accentuated over other elements of the flavour profile. To get the most out of an IPA, it is best to drink it from a glass (as with every other craft beer), preferably a snifter so that the aromas are concentrated to bombard your olfactory system.
How many types of IPA are there?
Ok, perhaps I got a bit carried away writing this, but there are just too many denominations of the IPA which perhaps I can write on next time. To name a few, there’s the Session IPA, Double or Imperial IPA, Dry Hopped, Double Dry Hopped, West Coast IPA, New England IPA. I name these IPAs because they are popular amongst the AMLT folks, and these are the usual stuff they go for.
What IPA should I start with?
Generally for a start, it really depends on personal preference. However, I usually recommend something light and session-able instead of a Double IPA which can be a bit too aggressive for newbies. But hey, no guts no glory.
Stone Neverending Hazy IPA is a good session-able choice to start with. Using Mosaic and Citra hops, the beer pours a hazy golden orange with a nice tight head. On the palate, you’ll get the intense orange and lime burst followed by oats, lemon, pineapple, star fruit and strawberry preserves. It is medium bodied, tangy, and will leave you with a slight tartness and a refreshed palate.
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