Get your learn on with a guest post by Brian M. Brian is the founder of CraftBeerAcademy.Com, a site dedicated to craft beer knowledge and information, as well as informing the masses about everything craft beer related. Follow him on twitter at @craftbeeracad and Facebook at Facebook.com/craftbeeracad
If you ask a craft beer fan what their favorite style of beer is, more often than not the answer is IPA. While this is a very common style of beer, many people are not quite sure of what IPA stands for, and what it really is. Here’s a brief history of the IPA, or India Pale Ale.
The IPA originated in the 1700s in England. The British have always been known for their fondness of beer, even requiring it in their military rations and to be shipped wherever in the world they were. The IPA actually came from this love of beer, and the need to ship to the British that lived in India during its British colonization. Beer would be shipped in wooden barrels from England, but the long sea journey and leaky barrels led to the beer souring before it got to the thirsty British.
Today we know that hops have an antibacterial quality to them that staves off bad bacteria. This was not known at the time, but it was known that hops helped beer to stay fresh longer. The British brewers used this information to help their beer stay fresh and endure the 5 month long ship journey to India. The brewers actually paired the higher hop content with higher alcohol levels to create a unique beer that would stay fresh and be enjoyed at the end of its journey. This beer, designated India Pale Ale, was an offshoot of the standard British style pale ales that were very common in the 1700s, which is why the hopper, higher alcohol version was called India Pale Ale, so that it didn’t get mixed up with the standard pale ale. The journey and higher alcohol would mellow the higher hop content and allow it to get closer to the standard bitterness of regular pale ale by the time it was consumed. It wasn’t until British started to drink this beer fresh that the unique hoppy and bitter character was discovered to be a desirable trait and not just a requirement.
Fast forward to today and the IPA is one of the most popular beer styles with many of it’s own offshoots including the Black IPA, American IPA, British IPA, and Rye IPA to name a few. This is a great example of how a sub-style can actually become a major style with it’s own unique sub categories. This goes to show how the craft beer world is always growing and changing. Styles can be updated with new information and new styles are always popping up.
Today, hops drive the character of IPAs, and the many different varieties of hops help to give uniqueness to each IPA brewed today. Follow this link for some notable IPAs available today.