I love a great India Pale Ale. Actually, I love a real IPA so much it may be my favorite style of beer! But so many people misunderstand this amazing beer style. Yesterday we began to chat about what a real IPA actually is in part 1. Today we will continue to break down the walls that have blinded us from authenticity, and go grab a true India Pale Ale.
Today, almost everyone who drinks beer is familiar with what an India Pale Ale is. Actually, that is not really true. Most people are familiar with the term “IPA”, and what the commercial breweries perceive it to be. However these are not true IPAs; they are light and golden yellow with a lot of carbonation, a mild at best bitter tang resulting from the use of adjuncts and the apparent lack of quality ingredients, as well as a very crisp artificial finish. They are best served as cold as possible so that your palate cannot absorb any of the flavor. Are you serious!? This is what the majority of the beer consuming population believes an IPA should be. Frankly, it’s astounding to me that people are sucked into the commercial marketing that is so callously spread over every media channel possible. Have these breweries really created something that tastes good? Try one of these so called IPAs closer to cellar or even room temperature; then their true colors will show.
The issue is often that people just don’t know any better. It’s true, I didn’t know until I was educated – but I guess that’s the point of all of this. A true India Pale Ale is light amber in color, often with hints of burnt orange and gold. They have a big earthy, floral, and zesty hop aroma. They are filled with pine, grapefruit, lemongrass and an unmistakable fresh and quenching smack of bitter hops. This bite of fresh hops should not be mistaken for the chemical like tartness you get from commercially fake IPAs.
A real IPA is a master at the dinner table and pairs well with so many dishes: the floral aromas in the beer will match so many savory dishes; the sweet fruit and zest will compliment charred foods and sweet meats; and the resin fresh hops will quench any spice and any heavy flavor so well that your palate will feel so bright and prepared for the next bite.
Unfortunately it’s hard to know what a Real IPA is if you don’t already know. First of all, look for beers that of course call themselves an IPA, or an India Pale Ale. Next try to fine the beers that list the ingredients on the bottle or packaging. The ingredient list should include water, malt (or barley), yeast, and hops. Sometimes IPAs have added spices or herbs, but if you see chemicals listed, or not all of the important four ingredients, then it is probably not a true IPA. In reality, the fake guys don’t even publish the ingredient list; they do make it very difficult to find that one.
But rest assured more and more real IPAs are making their way on to shelves all across the world. There are certainly more kinds of real IPAs than fake, and slowly but surely they will become more prominent in stores and on tap! Real flavor always wins.