Welcome back! There was a slight delay in this as I was in the hospital having my appendix removed. Now I am better and ready to keep this going. So now, for today we talk about IPAs. We will talk a little history (not for too long) and a little about what makes it an IPA. And, for the main event, we will talk about the lines drawn in the sand of love and hate of the beer, and some suggestions for good “gateway IPAs” if you’re looking to give it a try. Let’s discuss IPAs and what started us in the new age of beer, the “Hop” age of beers.
I will start with a history lesson of IPAs, but I can already tell that all of you have stopped reading so we won’t dive too deep. But I will say there are things about it I didn’t know. First of all, IPAs started in England around 1840. It was made in England and was shipped to India. The issue and the reason the IPA was developed was because people needed a beer that could survive the trip from England to India. The extra hops were added to help with the journey there and became a huge hit. It wasn’t until the 1990s when the American IPAs and the IPA revolution really picked up speed. Since then, IPAs have started a new trend in the US….microbreweries.
Ok, everyone come back now, history lesson is over. Now we can start the debate. Hate or love? No other brew type comes close to the devisiness of IPAs. But why, do you ask? The hops. In a traditional American IPA, you have a set of hops that gives a bitterness that some do not like. The hops that are mainly used include simcoe, mosaic, citra, cascade and a few more that give the American IPA its unique taste. But as everyone started making the same beer, others took steps to stand out. A lot add the “fifth ingredient” of beer as my father-in-law would say. They add fruit and other flavors in the brewing process. The most common is citrus like orange, grapefruit, or lemon. And even more recently, two new styles, New England IPAs and Black IPAs, where orange juice and the use of darker malts are used respectively. The question still needs to be asked, with all these options, how can people hate them?
I have come up with two answers. The first can be that most have a style they like and stick to it. The other is that they don’t want to try it. To that, I say to each their own. Now the question you ask is what is a good IPA to try? The best one to try and many claim as the gateway IPA is Two Hearted from Bell’s brewery. You will get the slight bitterness, but it isn’t over powering. And did I mention it is stronger than most of your lagers and ales? Another great gateway to join the “hop” revolution are the New England IPAs. With added juice, the bitterness is also almost null. Sam Adams makes a great version (as they should since they are located in New England) but you can find most microbreweries make something like it or that has tangerine or nectarines to change the flavor enough to be less bitter. I myself make a tangerine IPA that even my father-in-law (who hates the “fifth ingredient”) loves, and he loves Two Hearted and also hunts for IPAs with the highest bitterness.
Thanks again for reading. I hope I inspired you to at least try an IPA that maybe you will enjoy. If you have other gateway IPAs or any more thoughts on them please comment below. See you next time.