Head to any bar in the United States, and you’ll almost certainly find an IPA on tap. This hoppy, bold and bitter brew has experienced tremendous growth in popularity and dominated the craft beer industry through the 21st century.
How has the humble IPA, originally designed for long voyages across the British colonial empire, expanded and re-branded into the craft brew heavyweight it is today?
What is an IPA?
Since beer has a pretty simple ingredient list: water, a starch, yeast and hops – how is an IPA different from pale ales? The answer is hops. The IPA beer style is more heavily hopped than their predecessor though otherwise have similar qualities.
A Quick History
The story goes, the traditional English beers didn’t export well to the ever-expanding British colonies around the globe. India, in particular, was a six-month voyage by sea; the beer would often sour, and the heavy porters were unappealing to the tropical tastes.
The India Pale Ale, a hop-forward ale with high alcohol content, was based on a British brew that was meant to age like wine. So, during the long trip to India, the IPA maintained its fresh yet complex flavor.
The American IPA began emerging in the late 20th century, largely in the Pacific Northwest thanks to the hop-friendly climate. Over 90% of hops grown in the United States can be traced to Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Here are a couple of our favorites to get you started.
This well-rounded IPA gets its drinkability from bits of caramel malt barley for a mellow sip with a hoppy twang.
While this Michigan craft beer only clocks in at 4.7% ABV, Founders’ is made with an array of malts, grains, and hops that add a uniquely complex flavor.
A fan favorite, this bold and fresh unfiltered 6.7% ABV beer defines fruit-forward hoppiness.
Tropical and bitter, this Florida bred, 7.5% ABV beer is light enough to sip during those beloved backyard summer parties.
Big fan of hops? Step right up. Super hoppy and malty, this 5.7% ABV beer pairs perfectly with salted meats. What doesn’t though, right?
Citrusy, strong, and bitter with overtones of peach, Space Dust clocks in on the heavier side with an 8.2% ABV that might just knock your socks off.
Santilli is a 6% ABV that takes its namesake from the beloved street the brewery resides in Everett, Mass. A full circle moment – ya love to see it.
A best seller from Dogfish Head, this piney IPA has notes of hop, malt and pine with a 6% ABV.
Dogfish Head created an icon when they made the 90 Minute IPA. Regarded by some as one of the best IPAs in America, this malty little number clocks in at 9% ABV.
A winner of multiple beer awards, this brew has bright flavors, citrusy aromas and some dang crispiness thanks to the hops. Serve this 7% ABV beer with pretty much anything that has a hint of tropical flavor.
If you’ve avoided IPAs in the past due to their rumored bitterness and high ABV, it’s time to dip your toes back in the hoppy pool.