Indian Pale Ale (IPA) is a light malt beer produced by top fermentation, with a characteristic bitterness due to the increased concentration of hops. This style belongs to the broader category of light ales, and appeared in the early 19th century during the time of the East India Company, after the Essex brewery Bow Brewery began exporting its products to the East Indies. Over time, India Pale Ale has also become popular in Canada and the United States.
Initially, the term “light ale” referred to beer brewed from light malt. At the beginning of the XVIII century, these drinks had a slight hop bitterness and significantly differed from the modern version. Over time, the beer became stronger and stronger, and the content of hops in it – all the higher.
However, this was not yet an IPA beer – just an October seasonal variety of increased strength. It became an Indian ale in the XIX century, when the Allsopp brewery developed a special brand based on Bow Brewery recipes for export to India. At the same time, tsarist Russia banned the import of beer, as a result, English brewers had to look for new markets, and India became an ideal option. Bass and Salt breweries soon followed Allsopp’s lead. So there was a real Indian Light Ale, in which the high content of hops was a preservative that promotes transport over long distances and storage.
There is also a more romantic version of the origin of the IPA. When Britain became a metropolis “over which the sun never sets,” its faithful sons, thousands of miles away, longed for the familiar beer. In colonial India, this drink was not brewed at all, respectively, it was there that it was most needed.
There is a myth that IPA has become the only beer style that can withstand long sea voyages. This is not so: the high concentration of hops, of course, allowed the drink to stay fresh longer and insured traders from losses, but in the same way porters and even low-alcohol varieties reached India safely. Just this beer was to the taste of the participants of the East India company, besides the sweet brands did not go well with the local climate.
In the XX century, the slow but sure decline of the India Pale Ale style began. Many factors contributed to this: World Wars, Prohibition in the United States and the transition to a conveyor system of production. Indian ales require expensive technology, careful selection of components. In the age of watery lagers, their production has become simply unprofitable, especially since consumer tastes have changed, and complex bouquets are no longer popular.
The strength of the variety fell catastrophically and eventually reached a ridiculous 2.9% (IPA from Youngers). The style was losing its individuality. The revival of the IPA is due primarily to Fritz Meitag, who with hard work and incessant experiments achieved the desired taste, and in 1975 his Anchor brewery released the Indian Light Ale Liberty Ale.
Today, this variety belongs to the craft, it can not be said that it is insanely popular, but every self-respecting brewery strives to include IPA in its product line. Well-known manufacturers include Brewdog, dogfishhead, Thornbridge, Oakham, Fullers. The average alcohol content is 5-8%.
The main and main feature of IPA beer is additional hopping. If it is carried out at the beginning of the process, then the drink turns out to be bitter and “dry”, if at the end – a fragrant beer with minimal bitterness comes out. The type and amount of hops used depends on the brewer, the style is characterized by 60-80 units of bitterness according to the International Bitterness Scale IBU (International Bitterness Units).
Sometimes on the label you can find the numbers 60, 70, 80, if there is an IBU marking next to them, then these are units of bitterness (the concentration of bitter acids in beer). The higher the value, the greater the bitterness of the beer. Among the producers, there is even a joke: “You don’t know what to do with spoiled ale – add more hops to it!”.
Natural hop drinks are quickly exhausted, so you need to drink them as quickly as possible. In the days when IPAs were exported to India, immediately after bottling, Indian light ales were so bitter that they were not of gastronomic value, but towards the end of the trip the taste was softened to the desired level.
Types of Indian Light Ales
According to taste, the following categories are distinguished:
- Extremely bitter. The name speaks for itself.
- Fragrant. It is distinguished by an exquisite hop bouquet.
- Experimental. Various craft variations – can be sour, sweet, yeast, etc.
There are three main types of IPAs based on geography:
- British. It is brewed on the basis of British hops, but not necessarily in the country itself. Famous brands: Green King, Burton, Fullers.
- American. The basis is American hops, the strength rarely exceeds 7%. It has a balanced taste and citrus notes in the bouquet. Famous brands: Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA, Stone IPA Brewdog Punk. A subspecies of this category can be considered Double IPA (“double”), its strength only starts at 7%. For example, Stone Enjoy By IPA. Even stronger is the Imperial subtype – the alcohol content in it is 11% or more. A well-known brand is Alpine Exponential Hoppiness.
- Belgian. Very young type, he is no more than 10-15 years old. Brands: Stone Cali-Belgian IPA, Flying Dog Raging Bitch Belgian Style IPA, Duvel Triple Hop.
- Black IPA is a beer based on dark malt with a double hop content.
- Session-a more “moderate” drink, with a strength of no more than 5%.
- Monopolies – one kind of hops.
- Savegeometry (Fresh hop). It is cooked in the autumn after harvesting on fresh hop cones. The finished drink is distinguished by notes of greenery and resin in the bouquet.
How to drink IPA beer
Indian Light Ale has its own beer glass-narrow at the bottom and tulip-shaped at the top.