India Pale Ales or IPA’s have been the favorite style of Craft Beer lovers for many years now and this style shows no sign of giving up 1st place. With so many different beer styles it’s amazing that IPA’s are consistently the top selling beer style year after year!
In basic terms, IPA’S are brewed with pale malt, have a strong hop profile, sometimes quite a bit of bitterness, and higher alcohol compared to other styles. IPA’s today really put the emphasis on the hops and the many different flavor and aroma qualities of these hops. There are many different types of hops (the flowering cones of a perennial vine) and each hop type is unique in its contributions to the beer. Some of the many profiles of different hop varieties are citrus, pine, tropical, herbal, and melon just to name a few. Most IPA’s are dry-hopped (adding hops to the beer after fermentation) to extract even more intense flavor and aroma.
The great thing about the Craft Beer scene today is that creative brewers are pushing the boundaries of IPA’s and have created unique versions of India Pale Ales. There are Double or Imperial IPA’s, White IPA’s, Black IPA’s, Red IPA’s, Rye IPA’s along with many more variations. The big reason I feel that IPA has become the most popular beer style comes down to their extreme amount of flavor. The newest version or style of Craft IPA is the “Hazy IPA” sometimes called New England-Style IPA as this style originated there. These Hazy Beers do not have a lot of bitterness but focus on bringing out the maximum in hop flavor, often with “juicy” citrus or tropical hop varieties. They are brewed with oats and wheat which helps to give them a “soft” mouth feel and causes them to be cloudy or “hazy”. Unique yeast strains will also contribute to the hazy profile.
Craft Brewers are a rebellious bunch and their IPA’s are a testament to why Craft Beer is so popular. IPA’s are unique, bold, and very flavorful beers which have taken the country by storm! Cheers!
Rob McFerren is the owner of Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Co.