How is it possible that we’ve yet to feature a write-up on one of the BEST “gateway beer” styles on the planet? Shame on us… So here you go, hop-heads – in partial celebration of the timely release of Hop the movie, we bring you the American IPA… enjoy!
Stemming from the English IPA which originated back in the early 1800’s, the India Pale Ale got its name from a style of beer that was brewed strong and hoppy in order to survive the long voyage for English troops stationed in India… a barren wasteland for beer (still today, if we do say so ourselves). But fast-forward to today, and the English IPA is actually quite timid, relative to most Americanized versions – which generally come to bear with a fuller, sharper, more pronounced hop aroma and flavors, yet balanced well with a prominent coating of malty sweetness.
Let’s start by clearing this up – the American IPA is NOT the American Intellectual Property Abstract. While also dry, that thing is also terribly boring… and the American India Pale Ale is anything but… featuring hop varieties that present the aromas & flavors of any/all of the following: citrus, pine, resin, floral, perfume, bubble gum, or tropical fruits. And when you factor in a sweet, clean malty balance, it’s no wonder this style is such an eye-opening gateway beer for so many.
Here’s the Gateway Beers profile of the typical characteristics you can expect from a typical American IPA, on a 1-5 bar scale:
For a more thorough description of the style, check in with our friends from the Beer Judge Certification Program, and/or the Brewers Association.
The American IPA is definitely stronger than your average beer, but not so much so that you can’t enjoy a couple full-sized nonic pint glasses full without losing your lunch, dog. It should be served warmer than your typical light lager to let the inviting aromas and flavors really shine through… i.e. NO FROSTED MUGS.
The American IPA’s flavor profile plays well with your spicier food pairings such as Cajun, Thai, Mexican, and our favorite – the All-American Buffalo Wing… bring on the hot sauce! Of course, you can always make a burger or pizza pair up well with the right toppings, too, so get creative people. Think pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, or any of the above-mentioned styles of food draped on a pizza (Buffalo Chicken pizza, anyone?).
Where do we even start with this one… The American IPA is one of the most frequently brewed styles in the world, and here in PA there are over 100 varieties you can sample. But let us start you off with some ‘relatively’ easy ones to find which we (and a few thousand others) think are great representations of the style:
– Stone IPA, 6.9% ABV (Escondido, CA)
– Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, 7% ABV (Kalamazoo, MI)
– Cigar City Jai Alai, 7.5% ABV (Tampa, FL)
There are so many others to choose from, may we suggest starting with the American IPA Beer Selector page on Gateway Beers … we’re pretty sure you’ll find some nice selections to satiate your lust for the hop. And connect with us on FACEBOOK for daily recommendations over the next week. Cheers!