Thursday, August 04, 2011

National IPA Day

August 4th isn't just President Obama's birthday (happy 50th, Barry!) It's also been chosen by a grassroots movement of beer lovers to be National I.P.A. Day.

India Pale Ale tends to be a rich amber
I.P.A., in case you were wondering, is a style of pale ale originally brewed in England during the 18th century, intended to be shipped overseas to the Indian colonies.

Because of the rigors of months of sea shipping, the beer needed to be very strong in alcohol, to preserve it, and rich in hops to maintain its flavor.

This light, but strong and flavorful beer soon found such favor in Britain that it never actually made it to its intended destination!

There are many India Pale Ales produced in England, but as I outlined in my controversial post Why American Beer is Superior to British Beer, its a style of brewing the yanks have truly made their own.

American I.P.A.s are brewed to appeal to an American palette - which requires a lighter, fizzier, more vibrant style of beer (closer to a lager than a bitter.) It's much easier and more enjoyable to drink.

In addition, because American beers tend to be served significantly colder (often only just above freezing) the amount of hops in the brew tend to be significantly higher so the flavor can penetrate the chill.

It gives brewers the opportunity to really create their own distinctive flavors and taste - from dry varieties like Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, to fresher, sweeter and more rounded ales like my personal favorite, Samuel Adams Latitude 48.

One popular brand is Stones Ruination IPA, so called because it "ruins" your palette for other beers. While this is true for Ruination, it's also pretty much the best way to describe anybody's experience of drinking American IPA. Once you've acquired a taste for this hoppy variety, any other beer seems kind of limp by comparison.

So happy (or hoppy) IPA Day! If you can, make sure you lift a glass of India Pale Ale in celebration!

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