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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

What Kind of IPA Are You, Anyway? Say Cheers to IPA Day!

American. West Coast, East Coast, Midwest. English. 

Cascade, Centennial, Citra, Amarillo, Simcoe. 

Citrus, Piney, Floral, Fruity, Tropical. 

Double, Imperial, Session, Black, Red, or just "plain" ol'. 

From Palate Wrecker to Heady Topper to Sculpin. 

Pliny the Elder to Florida Man.

Talk about some of our favorite things. We could be talking about a certain holiday in December, or we could be talking about ... Yeah, you guessed it: we're talkin' IPA!






English IPA from Two Henrys Brewing
As hopheads' thirst for the hoppy flavors produced by the humulus lupulus cones has grown steadily since the 1980's, so has brewers' creativity with respect to ingredients and willingness to push the boundaries of the IBU (International Bitterness Units) scale (what general threshold of 100 IBUs?).  So, a little history here. The IPA (India Pale Ale) actually has its origins in Britain, and it didn't start out with that style name. In the late 1700's and early 1800's, on the heels of the spice and textile trade in India, British exporters sought to send pale ale to nationals and troops there. So that the ale could be preserved and retain its flavor during the lengthy five-to-six-month boat voyage from Britain to India, brewers added extra doses of hops to the ale. In the early 1800's, one of the local British brewers, Hodgson, formulated his beer specifically with this extra-bittering effect in mind after reading reviews and feedback from the India customers. As British subjects then returned from India, Hodgson sold his beer in Britain, and in the 1830's the name "India Pale Ale" was used to describe the style. Although the popularity of the style subsequently declined, the craft beer revolution of the 1980's revived the IPA, and hopheads everywhere have been rejoicing ever since. 

Stylistically, IPAs are distinguished by particular category (see, 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines). Let's start with the English IPAs and American IPAs. The flavor of the English variety tends to be more on the spicy, or even woodsy, side, from the English hops, with IBUs in the range of 40-60 and ABV at 5-7.5%. The American versions tend to take it a step beyond, coming in at around 40-70 IBUs, and 5.5-7.5% ABV, with aromas and flavors decidedly hoppy and bitter - even intense. The American hops generally yield flavors of citrus, floral, pine, spicy, tropical, fruity. And, let's not stop there, because the BJCP Style Guidelines further categorize Specialty IPAs: Belgian IPA, Black IPA, Brown IPA, Red IPA, Rye IPA, and White IPA. Each of these has specific nuances and profiles deriving from the ingredients used during brewing. But, we can take this IPA journey even further, as in Double (Imperial) IPA, the big boys of IPA, weighing in at 60-120 IBUs and 7.5-10% ABV.  If these IPAs are a bit too strong, give a "Session" IPA a try, with an ABV of between 3-5%(designed to drink more than one in a "session").

No matter which style of IPA your taste buds crave, there's no denying that the IPA has soared in popularity. According to the 2015 Great American Beer Festival recap, brewers entered a whopping number of 336 American IPAs in the competition last year, along with 208 DIPAs. (By the way, I attended GABF for the first time last year, and it was amazing!)

By now, you're probably thirsting for one of your favorite IPAs, and, although everyday is a good day for an IPA, Thursday, August 4 is especially significant, because it's National IPA Day! So, release that Hophead in you, and take part in IPA Day 2016 (official hashtag: #IPAday). Whether you're partial to those big, bold West Coast-style IPAs, prefer one a bit less intense, would rather go all-out for one of those Imperials, or zero in on the flavors of the Specialty types, there's one (or more) out there just waiting for you!


One of the most creative uses of beets ever

And, the things you'll find in those IPAs: Grapefruit never thought it would become quite so bitterly fashionable as its popular sister citrus, orange. Spice it up with peppers? How about pineapple or mango? Beets? The list goes on.  (I don't know about you, but I'm getting thirsty here).


And, lastly, this is especially for Florida: Your taste buds might be familiar with these popular Florida beers from around the state, many of which are widely available in distribution. Hey, before you tell me that I missed one, this is not an exhaustive list - far from it! There are many more Florida IPAs to explore from these breweries, and others, including two from small, local Central Florida breweries that I recently visited and will recap in the next few days. So, get your checklist out (not in one day, please). And, yes, I have had every one of these (I've even written about my visits to a number of these breweries):

Cigar City Brewing (Tampa): Jai Alai, Florida Man (DIPA)
Funky Buddha Brewery (Oakland Park): Hop Gun, Hop Stimulator (DIPA)
Coppertail Brewing (Tampa): Free Dive
Saltwater Brewery (Delray Beach): Screamin' Reels
Due South Brewing (Boynton Beach): Category 3, Category 5
Barley Mow Brewing (Largo): Quackalope
Civil Society Brewing (Jupiter): Pulp, Fresh (real hop bombs)
Copperpoint Brewing (Boynton Beach): One Love IPA, A-10 Red IPA
Tampa Bay Brewing Company (Tampa): Old Elephant Foot
Pair O' Dice Brewing (Clearwater): Hop Bet Red IPA
Motorworks Brewing (Bradenton): Indy
Big Storm Brewery (Tampa area): Arcus
Two Henrys Brewing (Plant City): 7 Mile Bridge
Brew Bus Brewing (Tampa): Last Stop
Green Bench Brewing (St. Pete): IPA
3 Daughters Brewing (St. Pete): Bimini Twist
Swamp Head Brewery (Gainesville): Big Nose
First Magnitude Brewing (Gainesville): Ursa
Florida Beer Company (Port Canaveral): Swamp Ape (DIPA)
New Smyrna Beach Brewing (New Smyrna Beach): Shark Attack
Playalinda Brewing (Titusville): Bring It (DIPA)
Tomoka Brewing Company (Port Orange): Oceanside White
Persimmon Hollow Brewing (DeLand): Beach Hippie
Proof Brewing (Tallahassee): LaLa Land
GrassLands Brewing (Tallahassee): Hopline Bling

No, I didn't forget Jacksonville:
Engine 15  Brewing: Old Battle Axe, Double Drop
Intuition Ale Works: I-10
Bold City Brewery: Mad Manatee
Aardwolf Brewing: Nonchalant
Green Room Brewing: Head High
Pinglehead Brewing: Imperial Red
Veterans United Craft Brewery: Hop Banshee
Zeta Brewing: American Garage


Happy hopping, Hopheads! 

One last thing: Into Untappd? August 4, 2016, IPA Day: There'll be a badge for that!


See you out and about somewhere for IPA Day! Til next time, Cheers!




Linda 













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