This Thursday, August 7th, is International IPA Day. Now most beer styles don’t get their own day, but there’s just something about the IPA that grabs hold of beer geeks and won’t let go. For them (us), every day is IPA Day, so this week I will be bringing you entirely IPA-themed content. Look out for ramblings and reviews on the wonderful India Pale Ale, starting with this: five reasons why beer geeks are in love with the IPA (specifically the American version).
1. Big, bold flavours
If you ever go on RateBeer.com, you’ll notice that light lagers and blonde ales tend to not be among the highest scoring beers. This isn’t because there aren’t five-star examples of these delicate styles. It”s just that they dont stick in your memory when you’re telling your friends/the world about the latest beer you tasted. Just as people remember a curry with an extra zing, or a piece of blue cheese so pungent you could smell it with the fridge door shut, people remember the heavily hopped, fruity, fresh bitterness of the IPA.
You get hopheads, but you don’t hear much about yeast beasts or..malt maniacs (???) Why the humble humulus has its own special fanclub I’m not entirely sure – does it have anything to do with the fact that its first cousin is marijuana? Surely not. But whether its about the heavenly aroma of a heavily-hopped IPA, the fresh flavour or the palate-cleansing bitterness, the American IPA is the beer style that best showcases what a hop can do and for that, we salute it!
3. Just the right amount of booze
The American IPA tends to range from about 5.5-7.5% alcohol. It’s enough of a kick that you can get what you want from a pint (come on now, hops are great, but you don’t go seeking hop-flavoured tea now do you?) but not so much that you can’t manage a second.
4. An acquired taste
I really think that a big part of the cult around the IPA is the fact that not everyone enjoys the hop-heavy flavours and decided bitterness. It’s not a ‘gateway’ beer, it’s not a ‘beginners’ beer’. For many it’s an acquired taste (I often hear comments along the lines of “it’s not a beer you could drink it all night” – a comment I wholeheartedly disagree with and regularly prove wrong) and I suspect that those who have acquired said taste feel a slight sense of superiority over the IBU-wusses* around them.
* – International Bittering Units
5. Beer with a backstory
It doesn’t just taste great – the IPA has history! It’s a beer shrouded in myths and legends and lies. It even has its own quirky and very well-written biography. Does that make it taste any better? Not at all, but then since it tastes so damn awesome to begin with, it doesn’t need to – and it’s nice to have something to chat about while you’re sipping.
What do you think? Why are beer geeks in love with the American IPA? Are you a hophead? Do you rub citra pellets behind your ears before a hot date? Do you prefer the more subtle English version to the big brash American take? Or are you a hop-wuss who doesn’t get the whole IPA cult? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.