The temperatures rise as we push nearer to August. The rain storms of June have stopped, but the humidity has not. Now is the season for lawn mower beers. Today we will talk about what is arguably the most popular lawn mower beer in the craft beer industry: The American India Pale Ale (IPA).
As beers go this beer is relatively new on scene, but it parent beers the American Pale Ale, and the India Pale Ale have roots that date back hundreds of years. The India Pale Ale dates back to the 18thcentury at the peak of British Colonization. Pale ales were very popular at the time. Now contrary to the name, the “Pale” in pale ales only means that is lighter than a porter (a heavy dark brown or red), and it covered a wide variety of beers we now call by different names. As Britain colonized east including India there was a growing demand for British made beers, but there was a problem with the delivery service. It took months for the wind powered ships of the days to make the voyage. Now it is greatly disputed who was responsible for this, but someone figured out that if you put an abundance of hops in the beer that it would survive the voyage. Thus IPAs were born.
American Pale Ales was the beer that launched the craft brewery industry. New Albion Brewery, started by Jack McAuliffe , was looking to brew something the big national brewers were not. He started with heavily hopped (at least at the time, compared to today’s standards it’s pretty mild) pale ale. While the brewery did not last for very long, it started the trend of craft brewing in the US, and it would have an early influence on Sierra Nevada Brewing, a brewery known for its hoppiness.
The trend of hoppy beers became very popular in the craft brewing scene, creating a sub culture of beer drinkers called “hop heads”. This lead to extreme breweries like Surly and Stone creating hoppier and hoppier beers. Thus the American India Pale Ale was born.
American IPAs generally start out with a caramelish or raisin like base malt. They are then given a fruity or citrus like aroma hops, usually Cascade. IPAs tend to be stronger and lighter in color then Pale Ales, but this is not always the case. IPAs can range from straw gold, to a mid-range red. Flavor wise, it is usually a characteristically citrus like hops, usually accompanied with a sweeter maltiness. (Mosher, 2009)
Just about every brewery these days makes some version of an IPA. So finding a local version of an IPA should not be very difficult.
Mosher, T. (2009). Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide To The World’s Greatest Drink. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.
Oliver, G. (2012). The Oxford Companion to Beer. New York: Oxford University Press.