Before tasting lots of IPAs let’s get to the bottom of exactly what an IPA is. The India Pale Ale is simply a standard Pale Ale with a higher hop and alcoholipajourney.jpg content, thus higher hop flavor and aroma. It all goes back to England in the early 1700s and a good friend of mine, George Hodgson of the Bow Brewery.
You see, many of the British had gotten quite comfy in India once the British East India Company established itself in the early 1700’s, but one thing was missing. Beer of course! These British-at-heart were craving a natural thing that any man craves. The only problem was, by the time ships brought beer from England, all the way around Africa and the Cape of Good Hope and back up to India, time and temperature had spoiled this sensitive beverage.
Eventually, George Hodgson thought to increase the amount of hops and alcohol in a pale ale. In doing so, the he did 2 things:
1 – The alcohol protected the beer from becoming overcome by unsavory microbes.
2 – The hops prevented the growth of bacteria that soured the beer.
He also found that higher carbonation levels and high attenuation (the addition of sugar during the boil and at casking) helped to preserve the flavor over the long voyage. Eventually when other brewers began to copy Hodgson’s formula, they began to use high-sulfate water as well, which gave the beer a clearer, crisper taste. As we all know, Gerge hit a slam dunk with this formula. Finally, our beer-loving brethren in India could enjoy a nice cold one.
The IPA was king in India for decades, as the first brewery in Asia didn’t start rolling out barrels until the 1820’s, and the style somewhat faded from history. Thanks be to the beer gods that Microbrewers today have come to appreciate all of the amazing flavors that those hops contributed. Nowadays, the IPA is a well-loved style. While somewhat changed from the original style used in the 1700’s because of aging and tastes, the most common American IPA is created with even more bitter flavor to exaggerate the taste. Hey we love to exaggerate here in the US of A!


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