The explosion of IPAs (Indian Pale Ales) in the US market at the moment in causing nothing less than a taste sensation within the real ale world. According to beer experts the good US IPAs are amongst the worlds very best, surpassing the UK market, where they were originally invented.
But what exactly is an IPA and where did it come from?
Britain’s colonisation of India in the 1700’s created a problem of beer transportation, as standard beers simply could not survive the long voyage from the UK to India, the beer would arrive flat, stale and of no use. The problem was the long journeys into a very hot county was simply too much for the beer to take. It was not until George Hodgson came upon the idea of dramatically increasing the hops used and increasing the alcohol level, that a beer could survive the challenges of travel to a harsh environment. The resulting beer was given the title IPA and was greatly enjoyed; a new type beer had been invented.
What makes the IPA so invigorating is its pure golden flavour and rich distinctive hoppy aroma that lingers on the palette. The true IPA also possesses stronger alcohol content, that can belie its bitter taste. But the IPA or Indian Pale Ale also has an interesting past, it was a beer built for a particular purpose and saved British colonists a fate worst than the yellow fever – no beer.
When it was no longer necessary to export beer to India, production of the drink in the UK began to decline. It took about a year to fully mature which originally would have happened on board during its journey, but when this ceased to be, storing the beer became costly. This together with increased taxation on higher alcohol levels led to beers springing up with the IPA title, but were only a “pale” imitation of the original IPA.
So it is thanks to these small micro-breweries in the UK, but especially in the US, who have taken the drink closer to what the original beers would have tasted like. Although the large company Ballantine, deserve some credit as their Ballantine IPA was a good example of a genuine IPA produced in the early 20th century.
The American breweries also make what is sometimes called the double IPAs and are extreme examples of the IPA style being brewed with even more hops and an alcohol level topping 7% ABV. Such beers are almost exclusive products of the American market and it is these drinks that are actually the closest thing to the original strength of the first IPAs as drunk by the British troops in the hot Indian climate. Strangely enough there are also no breweries in India who brew IPA today, and so if you wish to taste a true IPA it is not Indian or Britain where you need to turn to, but America.
For more information on American IPAs and where you can get them then visit the following web site: