One of the many wonderful things about craft beer is its ability to reinvent. With almost unlimited ingredients, beer has an almost unlimited ability to change. India Pale Ale is the most popular craft beer style today with most breweries having one if not two, three or more versions. Loaded with hoppy goodness, IPA’s are renowned for their flavour packed punch. Many IPAs are defined by intense flavours of grapefruit and citrus, thanks to the diverse fruity character of hops, but adding actual fruit to an IPA is a relatively new process we endorse. Since the first IPA was brewed in the 1800’s, brewers all over the world have taken on those ideas, flavours, and ingredients and done something new with them.
So with all these wonderful variations, we thought we should take you through a few of them to show you what you might have missed, or what could well be your dream IPA, disguised as something else.
So here is our guide to the flavour packed world of IPAs;
The English IPA
The original style of IPA from which the others stem, British IPAs are hoppy golden ales that use exclusively British hops like fuggles and goldings for a grassy, earthy and light citrus character. They are usually around 6-7% and dry as a bone.
The Californication of IPA’s
Well ok, it’s not really called ‘The Californication of IPA’s’ I just couldn’t resist that because I loved the show. It is more broadly known as the West Coast IPA invented in California (naturally), seemingly by a number of craft brewers all chasing the same flavours at the same time, the California’s IPA takes its inspiration from traditional British IPAs and American hops. It’s use of big ballsy American hops – cascade, citra, chinook – give it a huge citrus aroma. These beers are usually a little less dry because they often use crystal malt as opposed to meth.
The Double IPA
As palettes changed and drinkers began to enjoy the high bitterness of modern IPAs, fans started to lose interest in them. In an effort to reignite their interest “more hops” became the catch phrase, as they searched out the driest finishes. Brewers responded by creating stronger, hoppier beers – balancing the sweetness of strong alcohol and lots of malt with the bitter hops. The result is an IPA on roids, that allow brewers to really experiment with hops and push them to the limit.
The Triple IPA
A step up from the Double IPA, the Triple IPA is definitely not for the light-hearted. It’s a beer for the adventurer who likes to push the limits and more, it’s that guy at the BBQ coating his steak in ‘Daves Hot Insanity Sauce’. They are ballsy too – – sometimes pushing 12% or even 13%, these beers are demand respect.
The Session IPA
Because we can’t always sit down and rip into a double or triple IPA, without causing some serious damage to ourselves clever brewers have reined in the hop hit and come up with more flavour infused, fun to drink alternatives. Which is exactly what the session IPA is – they offer a decent whack of hops at no more than 5%. They are cracker dry and dry-hopped to buggery to get the maximum amount of aroma for the minimum amount of bitterness so they are as drinkable but full flavoured as possible.
The Blood Orange IPA
This seasonal beer has become so popular and widespread we think it deserves its own category now. While purists may see it as cheating to get the aroma and flavour from oranges rather than from the hops, they are missing the point. Brewed like an original Californian IPA, but with an abundance of fresh blood orange puree and a twist of citrus hops makes this IPA refreshingly different. We think this will be the next big thing for brewers – watch this space!