When it comes to high quality craft ales, there aren’t many that can rival a good honest IPA.
Although some may consider the IPA or ‘Indian Pale Ale’ to be an acquired taste, it’s fair to say that its strong hoppy flavour sets this style of alcoholic beverage apart from many others on the market. Its complex brewing process delivers a unique taste that can’t be matched and there are hundreds of variations around the world thanks to an endless combination of hops and other brewing ingredients.
But what goes into an IPA? Why have they sudden become so popular in the UK? Are there any IPA's we would recommend? Let’s take a look!
What is an IPA?
Here at RedH, we genuinely believe that the modern-day IPA is something to behold. Deliciously refreshing and varied in flavour, it’s an artisan craft beverage that brings with it a taste of history and how things were done ‘back in the day’. Such is the intricacy of creating a good IPA, the brewing process is almost scientific.
Although there are hundreds of different IPA variants, there are three main styles - American, English and Imperial - all of which are consistently produced and offer a wide variety of tastes to suit any palate. The American style is generally considered to be strong in their hop taste and this is often combined with fruity or floral ingredients. The English style is slightly less bitter in taste, often with a more earthy or herbal flavour. The Imperial or Double India varieties are usually the strongest IPA's, both in hop flavour and alcohol content.
With all these drinks featuring a higher than average ABV than most beers and ales, we’d suggest you make your way through the IPA range slowly!
If you’re a fan of beer and ales in particular, the traditional IPA could be a fantastic alternative to these more common beverages.
The history of IPA's
The Indian Pale Ale is now one of the most popular craft beer styles in the world. Although it has only reached mainstream drinking habits in recent times, the humble IPA has actually been around for hundreds of years, starting off way back in 1793 when exporters of pale ale added hops to beer to ensure it survived the more tropical climates.
Despite their moderate alcohol content of around 6.5%, these early IPA's were still not the strongest drinks of their time. IPA's were actually considered to be a more thirst-quenching, lighter drink commonly enjoyed by British troops stationed over in India.
The modern-day IPA is now quite different and there’s such an incredible range available - you can find IPA's with almost every type of hop imaginable. They are full of flavour, taste incredible and are brewed with an exceptional level of care and attention.
Features of an IPA
In most cases, you’ll find that popular IPAs today feature a consistent set of characteristics. These include the strong, almost bitter taste that comes as a result of the high hop content of all IPA's. Along with that, there is the modest alcohol content which of course increases their popularity in modern drinking establishments.
Many fans of IPA's would also suggest that this is a drink with an acquired taste - it can take time to appreciate the quality of a good Indian Pale Ale. Everyone is wired slightly differently when it comes to taste, so it can take time for your palate to adjust to their unique style. The more you drink, the more attuned to individual flavours and aromas you’ll become.
Like any other alcoholic drink on the market, there are variants at both ends of the scale, meaning it’s likely you’ll come across IPA's that are too hoppy for your liking, or maybe not hoppy enough! Find a craft IPA that is balanced and blends all the ingredients together effectively, and enjoy the experience that comes with it.
Why are IPA's so popular?
The demand for IPA's has grown rapidly as the general public continue to explore the extensive range of craft ales on the market. Touted as an alternative to the more common commercial beers and lagers, drinks houses like RedH now stock an incredible range of IPA's for you to try.
One of the most intriguing things about IPA's is their interpretation - one particular IPA may taste too bitter and unpalatable for some, but perfect for others. Remember that flavour is completely subjective so we’d suggest you try at least a few IPAs before narrowing your selection down to just your favourites.
When it all comes down to it, IPA's have steadily grown in popularity because, well, they’re a truly fantastic drink! With such a wide range to taste and try, we’re confident you’ll find an IPA you love.