Expanding Your Beer Palate – IPAs
The term pale ale originally came from ales brewed from pale malts, which makes a great deal of sense. However, per the Stone Brewing site, when they needed to ship fine British ales to colonists in India, they needed to preserve the ales better, and that meant adding hops, hops and more hops. The result was the delicious concoction that we know today as an IPA, as all of those hops have made a great tasting beer that often has hints of different citrus flavors that make it smooth for drinking in the summer while still hardy enough to enjoy in the winter.
To explore the different IPAs, first, I figured examples from my favorite breweries would be the best way to start. Stone IPA has 6.9% alcohol by volume and its sister Ruination IPA has 7.7% alcohol by volume. Beautifully, both are available year round and can be found across the U.S.
Since I have friends that live in Oregon, I think it is by law they serve me Deschutes Brewery beers when I go visit and in particular, I will often enjoy an Inversion IPA. Its citrus hints are orange and grapefruit.
Sierra Nevada beers are pretty much available everywhere, so keep an eye out for Torpedo Extra IPA. Like good gins, you’ll find hints of pine in this brew.
Back in my Midwest roots, I often enjoyed Boulevard Brewing Company’s Double-Wide IPA. Since I enjoy caramel and toffee flavors, this beer fell right into my wheel house, and the fact that it is a corked beer, just made it even more enjoyable to drink.
Of course, there are also IPAs beyond these bigger, smaller breweries. (You won’t see a Miller, Anheuser Busch or Coors IPA, at least that I know about.) Looking to the Great American Beer Festival for guidance, I found the gold medal winner of the American-Style IPA, “Pseudo” IPA from Pizza Port San Clemente right down the highway in San Clemente, CA. Unfortunately, they’re out of “Pseudo” right now, but they have El Camino IPA and Doheny Double IPA (winner in Imperial India Pale Ale category) on tap, so you might not get the gold medal winner, but you’ll get a very nice substitute to go with your pizza.
Fat Head’s Brewery won the silver medal for its Head Hunter IPA. With tastes of grapefruit, tangerine and pineapple in this IPA, I might have to take a trip to Pittsburgh or Cleveland just to sample this beer. It would give me a good reason to go see a Cleveland Indians or Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game, since continually rebuilding baseball just isn’t that interesting.
Third place went to Lumberyard Brewing Co. of Flagstaff, Arizona and its Lumberyard Extra IPA. I know next time I make it over to Arizona, I’m going to try to find a tap or a six-pack of this IPA just to sample. Now, I just have to get to Arizona.
In patrolling around to look for other IPAs to try, I happened onto this list of the top 25 beers of 2009 and the American IPA from Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Union Jack. It won the previous two years at the Great American Beer Festival, and is not that far away in San Luis Obispo (a great place to stop if you’re going to Hearst Castle), but even better, it’s offered literally right down the street at Bev Mo!
Then I found this. A magical bracket containing 128 different IPAs. Well, I know what I’ll be drinking for the next five months. I suggest picking up an IPA wherever you are and joining me for a few of these flavorful beers.
About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."