There are a lot of great stories in the world of beer, but my favorite deals with the history of IPA. Legend has it that British troops in India weren’t crazy about the water, but unfortunately beer being shipped to them was going bad during the voyage. So more hops and more alcohol were added to keep the beer from spoiling and India Pale Ale was born. (Some say this is myth, but I’m sticking with it.)
Craft beer drinkers tend to love the bitternes that hops impart, and IPAs have become one of the most common and popular styles. At the 2012 Great American Beer Festival, the most entered style category was the American-Style India Pale Ale with 203 entries, according to www.craftbeer.com, with Imperial IPA second.
For awhile, the game among brewers was to see how high they could move the needle on international bitterness unit, or IBU, on their IPAs. Dogfish Head has two imperial IPAs: 120 Minute and 90 Minute, which have IBUs of 120 and 90, respectively. More typical would be Stone IPA at 77 and Latitude IPA at 60.
One of the most popular IPAs in this part of the country is brewed by Harpoon, which comes in at a relatively low 42 IBUs. It’s the balance between the sweetness of the malt and the bitterness of the hops that makes this beer more drinkable to more people. In an interview I had with Charlie Buffum at Cottrell Brewing he talked about how his goal was to make Mystic Bridge IPA an entry-level IPA.
You often find columbus and/or cascade hops in an IPA -- some are used for flavor, others for aroma -- but I recently had a delicous Shipyard Monkey Fist IPA that had one of my favorite hops -- fuggles.
I mention all this because today happens to be “IPA Day.” So tell us what’s your favorite IPA, and then pop one open.