You can love them, you can hate them, you can pour them, you can make them, but there
is no denying the fact that Indian pale ales have become America’s most popular beer style. In 1978, Congress passed a law that legalized home brewing in the United States. This law brought American brewing into a renaissance, allowing Indian pale ales into the hearts and mouths of main stream America.
The origins of the style dates back to the 1700s. Back then, English colonies in India were heavily influenced by the East Indian Company. The imports they collected from trade were the colonists main supply line. A small brewery named Bow Brewery, on the most western edge of London, was credited with the widespread awareness of the style. Due more to the convenience rather than the craftsmanship, the EIC began trading with the small brewery. The style became popular with the colonists of India because of its lighter consistency and higher alcohol content. The Englishmen were used to drinking porters and the Pale Ale was a refreshing replacement. With approval of the Eastern Indian Colonists, the EIC was able to bring this style of beer across the Indian subcontinent, eventually coining the term “Indian Pale Ale”.
Indian Pale Ales require pale malts and a strong hop influence. This style is typically higher in alcohol content (6-7% ABV) as appose to the tradition ales (4-5% ABV). With a variety of different hops in America there is no wonder American IPA became its own style. American IPA is considerably a whole different evolution from the English IPA. American IPA is generally drier and higher in alcohol where English IPA is malty. American hops causes the beer to be bitter and can give a collection of different flavors such as floral, citrus, and earthy characteristics. English hops are often fruity and give an herbal taste.
The obsession with hops in our IPAs have given rise to an arms race in the field of IPAs. The development of the Imperial IPA or the Double IPA was a direct result. They typically have an alcohol content of 7.5% or higher. Claims have been made that the recipe originated in Santa Rosa, CA, in 1994 at the Russian River Brewing Company. The style is beloved by craft beer drinkers in San Diego with such a passion that some refer to the Double IPA as, “San Diego Pale Ale”. The beer is extremely hoppy in flavor, but that is not even the hoppiest, my friends. Somewhere in America there must be some non-descript building inhabiting an evil genius and their laboratory whose sole purposes is to develop the hoppiest beer known to man. The Triple IPA has been on the shelves of liquor stores for quite some time, but only the strong of heart dare to drink them. With the classification as nothing lower than 10% ABV, Triple IPAs are the most full flavored and bitterest of the IPAs known to date. But don’t worry, the same evil geniuses have developed a beer that is far less complex. The newest development to the Indian Pale Ales is not an ale at all, it is actually a Lager. The Indian Pale Lager (IPL) tends to be hopped as an IPA but values bottom-fermenting yeast which gives a lager its signature. An easier drink, the IPL has a lighter, cleaner body and the hops are more subtle.
From England to India then to its rightful home, America. IPAs have developed and evolved through history and will continue as long as there are creative brewers and enthusiastic drinkers. So next time your at the bar with your buddies and someone asks, “Where do IPAs come from?” You can shut down the know it all who says, “It’s an Indian Beer”. Be sure to tell them the true story, where IPAs are from and where they are going. Until text time Keep Laughing ,Keep Drinking, and Keep Living!!!!!!