Friday, November 9, 2007

To India: With Love

The India Pale Ale (IPA) style started in England. The country was occupying India and ale had to be shipped around Africa, through the Cape of Good Hope, to the English colonies there. Pale ale was popular at the time and the beer was having trouble "surviving" (read: not spoiling or souring) the long ocean voyage. Brewers began to make a special export pale ale for troops in India. It was similar to a pale ale but stronger. To aid preservation of the beer, this pale ale contained more alcohol (for its preservative effects) and more hops (for their mild antibiotic effects). This new style came to be known as India Pale Ale.

From India to America

American craft brewers began to take this idea and run with it. Punchy Pacific Northwest-grown hops are far more potent than their brethren across the pond. The "American" India Pale Ale was born. In place of the earthy and fruity hops used in the English version, the state-side version contained bolder, stronger, citrus-type hops (such as cascade, chinook, and centennial). The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) now distinguishes between English-style and American-style IPAs.

Birth of DIPA
Fueled by the "bigger, bolder, better" mentality, craft brewers in the states continued to push the envelope. More hops! More alcohol! Stronger hops! Dry-hopping! Wet-hopping! Continuous hopping! This new, stronger, and more bitter IPA came to be known as an "Imperial" or "Double" IPA. The first example of this style is often considered to be Blind Pig IPA, brewed by the late Blind Pig Brewing Company. Head brewer Vinnie Cilurzo has since started another brewery, Russian River, and has re-acquired the rights to the Blind Pig name.

Double is beginning to take over in usage. "Imperial" was first used to describe "Russian Imperial Stout", a stronger version of English stout beer brewed for the imperial court in Russia. Imperial is often used to mean "a stronger version of" in craft brewing e.g. "Imperial Red", "Imperial Pilsner", etc. However, there is a growing movement to call these "double" in place of "Imperial". Many craft brewers feel using the "Imperial" descriptor for anything other than stout is incorrect.

The Unquenchable Thirst for more Bitterness
Craft breweries continue to push even further on hops and alcohol levels of their IPAs. Some breweries have begun making beers which they label "triple" IPAs. This style has yet to be officially recognized by the BJCP (it can be thought of as an intensely hoppy barleywine in some regards), but that hasn't stopped adventurous craft breweries from brewing massive 10+% abv, 100+ IBU monstrosities of hoppiness.

Notable IPAs:
Bridgeport IPA, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, Stone India Pale Ale, Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, Bell's Two Hearted Ale, Surly Furious, Odell India Pale Ale

Notable DIPAs:
Three Floyds Dreadnaught Imperial IPA, Russian River Pliny the Elder, Stone Ruination IPA, Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA, Great Divide Hercules Double IPA, Pizza Port Lou P. Lin, Pizza Port Hop Suey Double IPA

Notable "Triple" IPAs:
Russian River Pliny the Younger, Founders Devil Dancer Triple IPA, Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA

No comments: