India Pale Ale (IPA) is one of the fastest growing beer stlyes, and in my opinion, one of the tastiest. The only problem is that IPAs have an actual learning curve. The bitter hop flavor is a quick turn off to the casual domestic (Bud, Coors, Miller) drinker. Many-a-time I have made the mistake of bringing assorted IPAs to a party only to find I’m the only one drinking them because regular folk can’t quite stomach it. So, I decided to write this little number in an attempt to guide those who wish to try something new in the right direction. Hopefully when you reach the end of this process you will find at least one beer that you will enjoy, and perhaps have a new appreciation for this fantastic style of brewing.
If you want to know more about the history of IPAs, the IPA Wiki is pretty good.
I would also like to take a moment to define a few terms that you may not know. ABV stands for Alcohol By Volume. This figure means a lot more than just the amount of alcohol in a given beverage. The ABV also tells you how malty a drink will be. Since yeast requires sugar to produce alcohol, more fermentable sugars must be extracted from the malted grains to give a higher ABV percentage. These sugars makes the drink sweeter.
On the flip side, IBUs, or International Bitterness Units, are a scale from 1 to 120 of how bitter a beer is. This is achieved by adding hops to a brew. The hops are boiled with the extracted sugars (wort), and the oils contained within the hop cones provide a bitter flavor that counters the sweet sugars produced by malted grains. Depending on when the hops are added to the boil you will get different tastes and aromas. In general though; more hops, more bitter.
If at any point you would like some company on this quest, give me a shout. I’m always up for a beer.
Enough of that, lets drink!