What is an IPA?
India Pale Ales (IPAs) were developed by the British in the 1700s during their long sea voyages to India. They discovered that the strong-hopped beer would be able to survive long sea voyages because more hops equaled stronger, longer lasting beer. As soldiers and sailors returned Great Britain from India, they continued to seek out the hoppier pale ales that they had learned to love. IPAs remained popular through the 1900s before their decline in favor of fancier cocktails. The style saw a resurgence in the 1980s as craft beer came onto the scene. Now IPAs are often the most popular beers at many breweries and have their own categories (i.e the East Coast vs. West Coast debate).
What does this mean to you?
IPAs tend to be very bitter with a dry finish. You see more and more IPAs being flavored with fruit today, as well as fresh-hopped, dry-hopped and brews that use experimental hops. The type of hop sets the tone and taste boundaries for the beer. IPAs also range from session to double or triple the alcohol content. It is important to pay attention to which type of IPA you are drinking, some of the double and triple IPAs are particularly smooth but boast of an alcohol content of 8.5% or more.
What to look for in a good IPA
Visually: IPAs range from clear to cloudy depending on the brew – colors range from a deep gold to a medium amber.
Aromatically: It will be hoppy, often with piney or fruity notes.
Taste: It should be hoppy with a dry finish. While as a human you are not programmed to love bitterness, a good IPA has a strong flavor that you grow to love over time.
ABV: On average around 7% but can range from 4.5% to 14% and above.
Style Variations: IPAs have branched out into so many different options depending on the hops used to brew – East Coast IPAs being the current focus of most beer trends.. Stay tuned this month as we discuss how different hops affect the beer.
Colorado Breweries for IPA Recommendations:
New Belgium Brewery
Great Divide Brewing Company
Crooked Stave Brewery
Fiction Beer Company
Upslope Brewing Company