Tuesday, March 11, 2008
India Pale Ale, otherwise known as an IPA, is a distinct style of beer and is characterized as a sparkling pale ale with a slightly higher level of alcohol and hops than a typical Pale Ale; the hops lend it a distinct bitterness.
The IPA came about in the mid 1700's as a way for British brewers to ship unspoiled beer to India. The increase in hops and alcohol prevented the beer from spoiling and made for a rather strong tasty brew.
Characteristics of this beer can, as with other styles, vary somewhat, but an IPA will always exhibit the alcohol and hopping that distinguished the original. English brewers designed their IPAs with original gravities of 1070 and above, which translates to alcohol levels of a whopping 7.5 to 8%. Modern recipes usually attain a more modest level of 1050 to 1060 OG, for a subdued, yet still noticeable strength of 5.5 to 7%. Specialty malt additions of carapils and crystal contributes to the deep copper\amber color and provides an undertone of faint but perceptible caramel. Conditioning favors the mild end of the spectrum but at times might be considered quite lively when compared with other English ales.
In general, a traditional IPA will possess a nose of perfumey alcohol, fruitiness, and malt, although newer versions frequently overshadow the malt with strong hops. English brewers typically use hop varieties of Goldings and Fuggles, while American renditions of IPA employ Northern Brewer, Cascade, and Chinook, which project notes of citric or grapefruit-like flavors.