The Thirsty Scholar: India Pale Ale Features Hops
by mimivanderhaven.com on 08/17/2012 - 01:01 pm
Category: Smart Living
By Matt Lasher
Of the four main ingredients in beer—water, yeast, malted grain, and hops—none elicits a range of emotions from its consumers quite like the hop. This love-it or hate-it (or for me border-line-obsessed-with-it) flowery product of the Humulus lupulus plant gives beer its characteristic bitterness and flowery aroma and taste.
The style of beer best known for its utilization of this remarkable flower is the India Pale Ale, or IPA for short. There are three main types of IPAs—the English, the American, and the Belgian.
A traditional English IPA tends to be blatantly bitter. During the English occupation of India, massive amounts of hops were used to preserve the English ales during long voyages. When the soldiers came home, they had acquired a taste for the heavily-hopped, bitter beer, and its popularity soared. The hops used in an English IPA have a higher concentration of bitter alpha acids and a floral aroma and taste.
The American IPA tends to be more balanced and the hops used give the style a distinct citrus flavor and smell (think grapefruit). And the American ale yeast gives the beer a comparably sweeter finish than other IPAs.
Finally the Belgian IPA, in many ways, is a compromise between the American and English IPA, but differs with its unique candi sugar and Belgian yeast—lending a very distinctive flavor, usually of clove and plum. The Belgian yeast stays suspended in the beer, giving it a cloudy appearance.
What to try:
- For the Beginner: (English IPA) Goose Island India Pale Ale (Goose Island)
With assertive bitterness (though not as bitter as most English IPAs) and a floral aroma, this beer has a dry but crisp and refreshing taste—a perfect summer IPA.
- For the Beer Snob: (Belgian IPA) Stone Cali-Belgique (Stone Brewing Co.)
Stone’s Belgian IPA is a complex brew with distinctive Belgian yeast flavors and spicy hops, together creating a interesting combination of bitterness and sweetness.
- For a Local Favorite: (American IPA) Head Hunter IPA (Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon)
Fat Head’s Head Hunter IPA was recently featured at Blues & Brews at Akron’s Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens. It features a huge hop presence and a distinctive spice.
Cheers (with beers)!
Matt Lasher is a local amateur brewer and beer geek. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.