The India Pale Ale (IPA) beer style is a child of the British Empire, or so the story goes. Traditional British ales couldn’t hold up under the stress of a long ocean voyage to India in the days before refrigeration. To keep them from spoiling, brewers added more hops and increased the alcohol, since both are preservatives. At first people drank IPA out of necessity, but over time they grew to like it, and a new beer style was born. When you look into the history of alcohol, this happens again and again. After all, you don’t drink Gin and Tonic in England because you worry about catching malaria…
Over time (again, so the story goes) the style softened until the English IPA in a typical British pub was lighter and easier to drink than the original IPA. And then, in the 1980’s the American craft brewers adopted the style and either “took IPA back to its roots” or “made it their own”. Either way, American IPAs emerged that were significantly higher in alcohol and far more aggressively hopped than their English counterparts. The first craft brewers to adopt this style were on the west coast, and so it came to be known as West Coast IPA.
We started this flight with Brew Revolution Drop it Like Its Hopped. This beer is very clear in the glass with a lovely mahogany colour. The nose is mild, with overtones of apricot and pine. The taste is initially very smooth, but then a grapefruit bitterness builds along with hints of cinnamon, caramel, and just the faintest suggestion of dried fruit. The aftertaste lingers, leaving a wonderful balance between fruit, bitter, and sweet.
John’s take: I could drink this. (Coming from “Pilsner boy”, this is high praise indeed.)
Next up, we tasted Beau’s Full Time IPA. This was by far the lightest beer in today’s flight with a light yellow colour and a nose of ripe lemon. The taste was surprisingly mild, reminiscent of straw and lemon. It was pleasant enough, but the consensus was that it was rather nondescript.
John’s take: I wouldn’t order another one of these.
The third beer on today’s flight was Brimstone’s Sinister Minister IPA. This beer was noticeably hazier than the others, which isn’t that surprising as it is unfiltered. The colour has a light copper hue and a nose of peaches and navel oranges. The taste starts strong with definite blood orange notes and bitterness at the front of the mouth, but then it “falls off a cliff” quickly fading away.
John’s take: I probably wouldn’t order this again either.
We finished today’s flight with Amsterdam Brewing Company’s Boneshaker IPA. This beer also had a light haze (another unfiltered IPA) with a slightly darker copper colour. We could detect caramel, resin, and fresh cut oranges on the nose. The taste was like fresh orange slices, taking one of us back to the little league games of his youth. This beer tastes just a little sweeter, and a little less bitter, than Drop it Like Its Hopped even though the IBU rating is higher. It seems the sweetness offsets the higher IBUs.
John’s take: I don’t mind it at all. I like it actually.
That’s all for today. What should we taste next?