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Despite the often-told story, the India Pale Ale was not created to withstand the journey from England to India 250 years ago. It’s simply that the top beer exporter in England at the time made a hoppy ale that proved a hit among British colonists in India. The style was near extinction until American craft brewers reintroduced it in the 1980s, using North American ingredients: most notably bright, bold and pleasingly bitter American hops.
These days brewers are adding hops later in the process to create IPAs that erupt with hop aromas and flavours, but don't pack that big bitter punch. And they're experimenting with zingy new hop varieties from Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. Some IPAs showcase just one varietal of hops, while others aim for the perfect blend. Double, Imperial or Triple IPAs contain even bigger flavours and higher alcohol. For hoppy flavour without the bitterness, try a Hazy IPA.
You May Taste
These juicy brews are typically bitter (ranging from mild to strong) with a medium body and dry finish. Expect a biscuit, white cracker or caramel malt backbone and flavours that may include grapefruit, lemon, lime or orange, grass, herbs, green tea, pine needles, grapefruit pith, pineapple, mango, guava, papaya, lychee, black currant, earthiness, and spice.
Sip Them With
IPAs go well with strong strong blue cheeses like Stilton or Roquefort, and strong, aged Cheddars. For the main course, pair IPAs with Thai green curry, burgers, salmon steaks with cracked pepper, Tex-Mex, creamy Indian curries, jerk or Cajun-spiced dishes or fried chicken. Thinking dessert? Carrot cake is a nice match.
Enjoy your IPA in a nonic glass (a typical English pub glass) which captures the compounds that evaporate, releasing the aromas. It's best to serve this beer style at 8-10°C because as the beer warms up and reaches room temperature, the hop characteristics intensify.
One sip, and you’ll see why this style has been a staple on craft beer menus for the past few years. Canadian brewers produce some of the best IPA, with its refreshingly “bitter” and pronounced hop flavours.
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