In the most recent copy of Beer52’s Ferment Magazine, beer writer, Mark Dredge describes how IPA has essentially become a synonym for “very hoppy”, which just so happens to be a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with.
Mark writes very eloquently about how the modern IPA progressed from an American twist on a storied English classic to a whole family of elusive, hard to pin down beers. In essence, he concludes that India Pale Ale is now a discrete style from history while IPA is what we drink today – very hoppy beers of immense diversity.
The idea of an elusive beer based on a synonym for “very hoppy” is perhaps exemplified by the introduction of session IPA, whereby a more British pub-session approach to alcohol strength is applied to the concept of powerfully hoppy ales to deliver a fist-full of hops without the booze. Session IPA – a total oxymoron – is case in point; IPA has progressed beyond its historic roots to become part of beers illustrious and ever-evolving history.
Inspired by Mark’s point, I set out to find some examples of beers that embody IPA as a synonym. Here are a couple of my findings:
Beavertown – Neck Oil Session IPA
Beavertown Brewery, based in East London, was set up in December 2011 by Logan Plant (the son of Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant). Their Neck Oil Session IPA (4.3%) is inspired by an old English, Black Country (midlands – think Birmingham) phrase, whereby foundry workers would shout “I’m heading out down the pub for some neck-oil.” In other words, they were heading out for a few pints of their favorite local session bitter. With this historic slang in mind, Beavertown set out to make a “Neck Oil” version of their favorite style, IPA. Here’s how it turned out:
Appearance: Incredibly pale, with a beautifully unfiltered, cloudy yellow haze.
Aroma: Light citrus and floral aroma, slightly piney.
Taste: Light mouthfeel with a hop-forward grassy, floral and citrus taste. The aftertaste is of presently bitter grapefruit with an earthy, fairly dry finish. In the absence of a solid malt background, these sort of beers are almost like drinking hop juice. Highly sessionable as suggested!
Roosters High Tea
As a great demonstration of the experimentation that continues to drive IPA forward beyond its historic roots, Roosters High Tea is brewed in collaboration with Yorkshire tea merchants, Taylors of Harrogate. The beer is a robust, hoppy number brewed with Green Tea and Jasmine Flowers to create their 6.2% Jasmine Green Tea IPA.
Appearance: Really attractive printed paper packaging applied to an aluminum can, giving it a tactile quality. The beer pours an amber color, with a gentle haze thanks to light filtration.
Aroma: Citrus and herbal, with a light scent of crushed foliage or cut grass.
Taste: Expect a solid malt backbone and body with orange marmalade and a strong grapefruit bitterness. It has a lingering, pleasantly bitter aftertaste as the Green tea notes begin to emerge.
Share your beer
So there you have it. The IPA-ification of the world continues as our seemingly unquenchable thirst for hoppy beers sees no sign of waning. Have you tried an unusual twist on an IPA recently? Let us know in the comments – we love to share a beer :).