Ahh the almighty Indian Pale Ale… More commonly known as an IPA, it’s one of the most popular beer styles in the world. In fact we’d hazard a guess that you’d be hard pressed trying to find a pub, bar or tap room that doesn’t have at least one IPA sat proudly on the bar amongst their real ales, stouts, lagers and pilsners.
The beer itself stands out as a hoppy beer which falls under the wider category of pale ale. However there are a few different types.
With a lower alcohol content (below 5% ABV), these beers are brewed with the intention that you can drink a few in the same ‘session’.
These IPAs have a much higher hop concentration, meaning often more malt is used to balance the ‘hoppiness’ of the beer, which creates a higher ABV.
In the process of brewing this IPA, the hops are added to the beer during fermentation, rather than when the liquid is boiling. This makes the beer have a stronger aroma without adding extra bitterness.
As the name would suggest, these IPAs are brewed exclusively with one hop where normally a combination of multiple different hops would be used.
Along with there being a multitude of variations (there are probably hundreds!) you can also find regional contrasts – from British IPAs to West Coasts, New England to Belgian and South Coast, they all have their own quirks and twists.
The origins of the first IPA are a smidge confusing and there have been various questions raised over time. However, it is believed that the first official IPA was brewed by a London brewer called Hodgson. October Ale was a strong, heavily hopped beer that aged like wine and improved in flavour the longer it was left and became the beer the British Empire exported across the world in India. Not only did October Ale survive the gruelling 6-month journey, but it still tasted good when it reached foreign shores.
Following the success from Hodgson’s beer, other bigger breweries in Britain started to imitate the beverage but with little success, ultimately turning the style into a weaker, plain old ale… Then the Americans came!
With their rediscovered love for brewing, they went full steam ahead recreating a multitude of British beer styles including the Indian Pale Ale. Within a very short time the beer was back on British soil and IPAs started to build their reputation within the UK brewing industry to the peak it has found itself at today.
Despite it’s seemingly tumultuous journey, one thing we can say is the Indian Pale Ale is a cracking beer style – so good that we even brewed our own, you can try Goram now. Long live the IPA!