India Pale Ale (IPA), Noun: Moderately to massively hoppy. Bready, caramelly malt character with fruity and/or nutty flavors. Crisp, bitter finish; originally an exported type of pale ale, generally stronger, paler and hoppier than a pale ale.
The IPA has a rich, but uncertain history dating back to the early 18th century. The true history of the style has been skewed through hundreds of years of storytelling in pubs around the world.
In 2009, Pete Brown, of All About Beer set out on a journey to debunk the myths and set the story straight on the IPA. He cited his own love for the style as the driving force behind his 18,000 mile journey retracing the voyage of the IPA. After spending two and a half years studying IPAs by sifting through archives and old newspapers; I believe it’s safe to call Pete an expert.
Ten IPA Myths Debunked by Pete Brown
- London brewer George Hodgson did not invent the IPA. There are records of ‘Burton and Pale Ale’ being drunk in Madras, India in 1717.
- IPAs did not become popular just because of a shipwreck off the coast of Liverpool.
- IPAs were not drunk at the Great Exposition of 1851, in which a third of the UK population visited. This event was actually dry to prevent rioting.
- IPAs were not the only beers that could survive the journey to India. Porters, which are often just as high in alcohol content and can be heavily hopped, made the journey as well.
- IPAs, even though they were cask conditioned, were commonly filtered. Since casks exploded routinely, filtration lessened the chance for additional fermentation.
- Bad beer was not dumped at the Calcutta docks. It was actually used for “cooking, the basis for ketchup, or even boot polish”.
- Burton IPAs did contain North American hops, suggesting that at least some IPAs resemble modern American version.
- IPAs did not travel to India and back. That’s just plain stupid.
- IPAs were killed off by the cup of tea, not the rise of lagers.
- The original IPA recipe is still yet to be discovered.
For more see All About Beer’s November 2009 edition.
#IPADay: August 4
#IPADay was declared on July 7, 2011 at 10am PST via Twitter in a synchronized announcement via Ashley Rouston, Ryan Ross, and several sponsors. On that day, it was declared that International IPA Day would be August 4, the day before International Beer Day. The goal of this event is to “use social media to strengthen the collective voice of craft beer through the simple celebration of beer itself”. Drinking an IPA on this day is a celebration in itself; just be sure to tweet about it, Facebook it, or even Google + it.
You may find yourself asking, “why the IPA?” Well, why not? IPA is an iconic, diverse style that is celebrated worldwide with different sub-styles and flavors. It’s hard to deny the increasing popularity in America of the style since seven of the top 10 beers in the 2011 Zymurgy Best Beers in America Poll were IPAs, including the top three spots. Fans were excited to see Russian River Brewing Company’s Pliny the Elder Double IPA coming in first for the third straight year. Plus, at the Great American Beer Festival, IPA has been the most entered beer category since 2001.
#IPADay is something everyone of legal drinking age can enjoy. This is also an opportunity for people who choose to drink other beverages, to try an IPA for the first time.
IPAs in the Top 20 in the Zymurgy Best Beers in America Poll
- Racer 5 | Bear Republic Brewing | Healdsburg, CA
- Two Hearted Ale & Hopslam | Bell’s Brewery Inc. | Kalamazoo, MI
- 60 Minute IPA & 90 Minute IPA | Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales | Gaithersburg, MD
- IPA | Odell Brewing Co. | Fort Collins, CO
- Pliney the Elder | Russian River Brewing Co. | Santa Rosa, CA
- Torpedo & Celebration | Sierra Nevada Brewing Company | Chico, CA
- Ruination | Stone Brewing Company | Escondido, CA
- Furious | Surly Brewing Co. | Brooklyn Center, MN
2010 Great American Beer Festival IPA Winners
English Style IPA
Gold: Beech Street Bitter | Pizza Port Carlsbad | Carlsbad, CA
Silver: Illusion Dweller IPA | Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery | Boulder, CO
Bronze: Latitude 48 | Boston Beer Co. | Boston, MA
American Style IPA
Gold: Pseudo” IPA | Pizza Port San Clemente | San Clemente, CA
Silver: Head Hunter IPA | Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon | Cleveland, OH
Bronze: Lumberyard Extra IPA | Lumberyard Brewing Co. | Flagstaff, AZ
Imperial Style IPA
Gold : Doheny Double IPA | Pizza Port San Clemente | San Clemente, CA
Silver: Hop Crisis! | 21st Amendment Brewery | San Francisco, CA
Bronze: Decadence Imperial IPA | Trinity Brewhouse | Providence, RI
What IPA do you always have in your fridge?
Anthony Orig is the current Craft Beer Program Intern at the Brewers Association. He attends the University of Colorado at Boulder and will be graduating in December 2011 with degrees in Environmental Studies and Geography. As an avid outdoor enthusiast, he enjoys craft brews the most after long days of exploring in the mountains. Still new to the craft beer brewing world, he looks forward to learning more about the industry and meeting the people behind the beer. Follow his daily beer and mountain adventures on Twitter.
Last Updated: July 25, 2011