Whether you’re heading to the pub, getting excited about a new beer release, or sitting down for an ice-cold amber on your balcony, an India Pale Ale (IPA) will be on your mind for summer. Here’s why.
Versatile, hop-forward and often higher in ABV, IPAs are one of the most widely celebrated and enjoyed styles of craft beer of the last decade. Although, in their earlier iterations, they might have earned a ‘too bitter’ or ‘too strong’ reputation, the reality is that IPAs have benefitted from the innovation and daring of a new crop of craft brewers and now come in an ever-increasing array of styles.
Citrusy and refreshing? Absolutely. Resinous and hoppy? For sure. Unexpected but your new favourite? Bring on summer. With so many IPA styles in the cool room, here’s a handy guide to help you find the drop you will love when the sun comes out.
To strip it back to basics, IPA stands for India pale ale, which is a typically hoppy beer style within the broader category of pale ale. It was first created in the late 18th century in Britain, and has gone in and out of style throughout the decades – reaching exponential popularity in recent years thanks to a new wave of craft brewers making tasty and unique IPAs all over the world using different hop varieties.
Back in the 1780s, the British Empire needed a solution to a problem: their beer didn’t keep on the gruelling six-month journey from Britain to India. With the addition of a tonne of hops, they soon discovered not only did it last longer, it also tasted infinitely better. Starting off life in the 18th century as nothing more than a means to preserve beer, today it’s seen as synonymous with the craft beer industry, and if a brewery makes a red-hot IPA – they’ve made it.
Although IPAs dominating flavour profile comes from hops, different hops impart different aromas and flavours, from piney and resinous to floral and citrusy. The west coast IPA, originating from the west coast of the US, typically has bitter, piney and resinous characteristics. If that sounds like you, try Sauce Extra-Hop IPA.
Then you have the opposite in a hazy IPA, sometimes known as a New England IPA or NEIPA; typically juicy, fruit-forward, hazy in appearance and creamy in texture. This is the one for you if you prefer flavours such as mango and citrus, and enjoy a smooth and velvety mouth-feel. A shining example of a hazy IPA is Dainton Jungle Juice or Pirate Life Hazy IPA – deliciously juicy and easy to drink on a summer’s day.
For those who love a sip of tradition with their beer, an English IPA, is typically malt-driven and amber in colour for a more balanced flavour. Though harder to find in Australia, local brewers sometimes make a malty corker, like Bentspoke Crankshaft. It’s not exactly a traditional English IPA, but it’s high on malt.
A red IPA is typically copper in colour, hoppy and bitter with notes of caramel and toffee, and perfect for lovers of a malt-driven beer. Give Bentspoke Red Nut a try if you love the sound of the heavenly combination of toasty malt and hoppy bitterness.
To enhance your experience, pair your IPA with spicy dishes such as tacos, rich meats like sausages and fatty fish such as salmon and ocean trout. As IPAs tend to be well carbonated, you can afford to have fattier, creamier, and richer dishes, which the IPA cuts through beautifully. You can also use IPAs as something of a palate cleanser between bites. Bon Appetit.