India Pale Ale!!

India Pale Aleipa_web

By now, any craft beer lover or average Joe beer drinker knows what is an IPA – India Pale Ale. I recently have a new found love for the IPA, which I wasn’t a fan of in the past. My first encounter with an IPA –goes back about 6 years ago, at a bowling alley in Eagle Rock, Ca. The bartender recommended it. He swings a bottle my way, made by New Belgium Brewing Co – Ranger IPA. My first thought, India makes a beer? I looked up the label and it was brewed in Ft. Collins, CO USA!.…I must say, I was very curious. Continuing with India theme, I’m thinking hot spicy foods and this was the precursor (sure ignorance) to what I thought the beer would taste like, not tantalizing but still curious.   Since it was in a brown bottle, I couldn’t make out the hue of the beer, for all I know, it was an orange curry sauce beer. It had to take some testicular fortitude to drink this mysterious beer…my eyes squint, as I pull the beer to my grill, I hesitated, cause I was thinking curry sauce. What I experienced was crisp and a bitter dry bite at the end, SO bitter, enough to make my eyes water. I said “puke” people drink this junk…and that was the last bout with an IPA, until now. You see, I was in the infancy of my craft beer experience and my taste buds just wasn’t fined tuned back then… my beer muscles have since developed, and I can truly appreciate a well put together craft beer these days. So, I gave the IPA another gander, did some research, scavenged the urban city for a good IPA. But before I rattle off about how much i like IPAs, let’s go down memory lane and see when the IPA hit the beer circuit and run down some interesting facts that makes this beer and that distinguished hoppy notes so great!

Full disclaimer, while doing my research, the IPA’s history is very cloudy, and I am attempting to do my best to point out accurate information. Because I don’t like to make up shit! So here we go…

IPA originally brewed in England and evolved from the Pale Ale, and was created some time during the mid 17th to early 18th centuries. The beer became very popular to British colonists and military personnel. The British East India Co,  began to export this golden froth along the trade route. The IPA shares much with their English Pale Ale cousins ingredients , including the unusual but delectable hoppy bite. The Pale Ale family of beers, was a product of new malting techniques at the start of the 17th century, that used “coke” fire methods vs. “wood” fired kilns and revolutionized the taste and look of the beer. Some also say that the IPA evolved from George Hodgson’s, owner of Bow Brewery, “October beer” not to be confused with Germany’s “Ocktoberfest Beer“, that was popular among the traders of the East India Trading Company in the late 1700’s. East India traders subsequently started trading many of Hodgson’s beers including his October beer, he also had a generous 18 month line of credit, WOW!! With tariff taxes increasing around Russia and the Baltic, English beer breweries jumped and began trade with the mighty East India Trade Co. and the IPA would be traded from India through Asia and Australia. Now that is some global exposure!  The IPA was welled hopped which acted as a natural preservative, and cooler sea temperatures provided ideal storage conditions. Spoilage was minimal and happy beer drinking Brit colonists got there fix with a nice cool crisp golden beer, a perfect remedy to fight off the inferno climates of India and tropical temperatures. With the evolution of the Pale Ale and brewing techniques, Hodgson’s beer & favorable line of credit, increase tariff taxes in Russia, diverting breweries to go East, and the global network of the East India Co, Colonists abroad who loved and missed there homeland beer, the IPA was set for beer lore history and success.

Early Trade Route to the Indies -

Early Trade Route to the Indies – IPA global exposure





Fast forward to today, like the Italian Pizza, we took the English IPA and made it our very own. American beer brewers have manipulated the IPA recipe. Creating a more bold, flavorful and super hoppy minty beer. California has become the Frankenstein for the IPA styles, from Double/Imperial IPAs to Marijuana inspired IPA’s.  Even British brewers are now using American hops to their IPA beers! Hops such as cascade, cenntinnel, and amirillo, grown mostly around the Northwest Pacific regions, are the main reasons why the American IPAs are on the beer map. And California makes some world class IPA’s such as; Russian River Brewing- Pliny The Elder and Pliny The Younger.

That bitter bite, the hoppy bite is what makes the IPA so distinguished. The bitterness is measured, by the IBU = International Bittering Units – the average IPA is about 60-100. Beer’s bitterness range from 1-100. And there are some beers that go over 100, man, that would give me heart burn and clear my sinuses.

My top 3 –  IPA’s are as followed.

1. Propulsion by Kinetic Brewing, Lancaster, Ca. – creamy and citrus notes. This is the beer that got me back into IPAs.

2.Big Barrel Double IPA – Karl Strauss Brewing Company, San Diego, Ca. – Wow, hoppy, very hoppy and it smelled like pineapple/fruit punch. And sneaky, pushing 9%…I want one now!

3. Mongo Port Brewing, San Marcos, Ca, I had a family member recommend this to me and I can’t stop buying it, there is always a bottle in my fridge. Classic bitter dry bite at the end, looks pretty, refreshing, piny citrus notes, very well balanced.

Living in Southern California, my top 3 IPA’s are pretty bias, I had some IPA’s out of state and they didn’t leave a great impression,  but the IPA’s I listed, I really gravitated too.

I drink this stuff year round now, its an all perennial seasonal beer for me! The IPA has a great history and beer brewers around the world concoct new styles of IPA’s, that continue to add to the lore of the IPA. Till next time, cheers!




~ by Golden Foam Notes on February 9, 2015.

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