If you are a beer lover, there’s no way you would not have heard of IPA beer. IPA is an acronym that stands for India Pale Ale. This is, in fact, one of the most evolved hopped beer styles amongst many others. Bitter and robust flavour notes are the key to fall in love with the drink IPA. Although India is not the country that brewed it first, India did play an important role.
When George Hodgson of Bow Brewery started exporting porters and pale ales from London to India. Sailing with perishable beers, exporting was getting difficult from London. So, he invented a strong pale ale with more hops and at higher alcohol levels. With a refreshing hop and exceptional quality, IPA soon became a favourite for many. You either like them or you not, there’s no mid-way with IPA beer.
There are several classification and styles under IPAs. A change in ingredient or a slight difference in the brewing process will give a variety of flavours or even colour appearance to the beer.
The British IPA is where it all started. While transporting the beer from Britain to India, the beer lost all its fruity flavour due to the long travel. The drink was further tweaked to be more maltier with higher alcohol content and with a greater number of hops as preservatives. British IPAs have an earthy, floral English hop character to it that is admired by every beer lover.
WEST COAST IPA
This is the style of beer where the fruity hop explosion began. West Coast IPA is yet another bitter drink but with tropical fruit notes. The brewers add as many hops as possible while brewing this specific type of beer and have minimal malt character.
NEW ENGLAND STYLE IPA
From the blends of hops and fruity flavour, this particular style of IPA is low on bitterness. They look very similar to orange juice and has fruit salad aroma. In the process of brewing this specific type of beer, they are often dry-hopped and fermented for lower carbonation.
EAST COAST IPA
Ok, so we agree this isn’t an official IPA beer style; nevertheless, it is the flavour that needs a special mention. With an emphasis on piney hop flavour as well as solid malt backbone, this drink is a blend of British and West coast IPA. The character of East coast IPA is slightly more complex in nature.
IPAs that are brewed with flaked oats are incredibly mild. Often when creating oats IPA, brewers also add fruity hop flavours to the drink.
Lactose IPA is also popularly known as cream IPAs or milkshake IPAs. Although there’s no milk content in the beer, it does have a certain sweetness the milk sugar adds. You’ll also notice that when lactose IPAs are served, fruit or vanilla extracts are added to the mix. This super the smooth drink is lighter in both flavour as well as colour.
Belgian yeast is the leading source of flavour for the Belgian IPA. This particular yeast provides a sweet, bready and warm note to the beer. Belgian IPA tastes very similar to British IPA when blended with Belgian Tripel.
With this version of IPA, the fruit flavour is intensified by adding fruit purée that has citrus character into the beer.
This specific style of IPA has an equal split of tart, juicy, and fruity. A sour IPA is also called dry-hopped sour beer. Hudson Valley Brewing Company blends one of the best sour ales in the market. Sour IPA is generally light in flavour.
Brettanomyces is a yeast strain that is added during the first phase of fermentation of the beer. It gives melon or fruity quality and aroma to the beer. The drink finishes off with a pleasant bitterness and tropical fruit flavour.
TIPS ON BREWING IPA
The dominating flavour of the Indian Pale Ale is led by hops. To brew the traditional English IPA, typical English hops like Fuggles, Goldings, Northdown, and target are used. The most crucial part of brewing the best IPA is to ensure the hop used and the quantity of it. Magnum, Nugget, or Galena creates alpha acids which adds bitterness to the brew.
One of the biggest mistakes a brewer can do is to expose your beer to oxygen once the yeast refrains from converting. It will break down hop oils and spoil the drink itself. It is highly recommended by the experts to add the hops right at the end of boiling and into your fermenters. Since hops are the most crucial ingredient of the drink, the selection of the fresh hops matters the most too. If hops are purchased from homebrew stores, ensure they are appropriately stored under the desired cold temperature in a vacuum-sealed bag which helps keep the oxygen out.
Beer brewing experts suggest keeping the crystal malts at 5% or lower level. If you are looking for more colour addition, its best to add Munich malt or lightly-roasted malt. To brew the best version of IPA, it needs to be reasonably dry, as it allows the hops to shine. Brewing beer at home is not an impossible task but not an easy one too. It’s all in the right measurement, guidelines and the style itself.
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