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Beer Lovers! Do You Know What IPA Means?


National IPA Day on the first Thursday in August celebrates the beer known as India Pale Ale Beer.

  • The IPA seems to have developed out of an idea from the 1700s. When shipping ale to India, adding hops to the beer increased the longevity of the brew. Brewers thought that hops preserved the beer for long voyages to hot climates. One London brewer gained attention for his ability to brew this particular style of beer. George Hodgson shipped many casks of pale ales to India from London. However, no one knows for sure when or who coined the name India Pale Ale.
  • Brewers ferment barley to make India Pale Ales. Depending on the length of fermentation, the tannins may cause some bitterness in the beer, even after adding the hops. While IPAs have a reputation of being bitter and hoppy, not all are. They also tend to be crisper than other beers.
  • While it’s true that IPAs were incredibly popular in India with the Brits, it was not a beer that was specifically invented for the market or to survive the journey as discussed above. In fact, pale ales have been in existence since at least the 17th century. And those who enjoyed these beers weren’t the troops in the British Army, but the upper classes from England and the rest of Europe who had chosen to settle in India. The British troops actually preferred porter.
  • While Australia is not the first place to brew an IPA, they were the first place to call it one. The name East India Pale Ale appeared in an 1829 ad printed in the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser but the ad didn’t mention the brewery that was making it.
  • When Vinnie Cilurzo was the brewmaster of The Blind Pig Brewing Co., his first batch of beer had to count. But since he was making beer on old second-hand equipment, he wasn’t sure he could be nuanced with his flavors, so he just decided to add as many hops to the brew as possible. The result was the first commercial Double IPA.
  • As of 2016, there are more than 5,000 craft breweries in the country, and India pale ale, or IPA, is one of the industry’s most popular varieties.
  • IPA fell out of favor for lager in the late 19th century but reemerged in California microbreweries in the 1970s. Many brewers adopted historic techniques, and San Francisco-based Anchor Brewery’s Liberty Ale is cited as the first American version of modern IPA.
  • Since the 1700’s, brewers have gotten quite creative in the craft of IPAs! Today there are four main styles (and several sub-styles). Berghoff’s Beer Blogbreaks them down by their differentiating characteristics:
    • English-Style IPA The English IPA is what started it all. The English variety tends to be less hoppy in flavor than American IPAs, with medium to strong hop bitterness and flavor. You may notice moderate to very strong fruit flavors and a gold to copper color when you pour. English IPAs can have anywhere from 4.5% to 7.1% ABV. They tend to be crisp and dry, making for a very refreshing brew.
    • American-Style IPA Americans revived the withering English IPA style with huge flavors. Hop flavors are strong, with high bitterness, big citrus and/or herbal character and a stable malt backbone. Pine, sulfur and/or floral flavors are common. American IPAs tend to have moderate to very strong fruit flavors. When you pour, you may notice a gold to copper color along with a distinct hop haze. ABVs range from 6.3% to 7.6%.
    • Imperial (Double) IPA If you think American-style IPAs are intense, Imperial IPAs will take your tastebuds to the next level. Hop bitterness and flavor are very high, but should still be pleasing and not harsh. You should also notice strong fruit flavors. The point of this type of beer is to show off the fresh and flavorful characters of the hops. There should be a nice alcoholic kick, with ABVs ranging from 7.6% all the way to 10.6%.
    • Session IPA Since IPAs are so refreshing, it’s no surprise that brewers started crafting ones that have a low ABV. This way, you can sip on them all day under the sun without getting drunk out of your mind. Sessions can be much less intense than their American-style counterparts, with a medium to high hop bitterness, but strong hop flavor. Fruit flavors are low to moderate along with a low to medium maltiness. Session IPAs pour a gold or copper color and may feature a hop haze. ABVs are kept low, from 3.7% to 5%.
  • Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head and Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada collaborated in the design of a special glass just for IPAs. Sold on Crate & Barrel’s website for $10.95 each, the Spiegelau IPA Glass is the new standard for sipping this beloved brew.


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