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Blinded by Science: IPA by any other name!

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July 15, 2016 by fhsteinbart


India ales

Here we see a rainbow of color’s of different India style ales, all of which are hoppy beers.

There are a lot of people who when they hear the term IPA either instantly recognize it or will say IP what?  For those who recognize it, the acronym IPA (India Pale Ale) means a top of the range pale ale with firm hop bitterness, and a bright hop character.  Other uses of the acronym include IBA or India Brown Ale, IRA or India Red Ale, ISA or India Session Ale, and that now ubiquitous of recent styles the India Black ale, also known as Cascadian Dark Ale.  What these beers have in common is that there are based on the original concept of an IPA, that being a hop forward beer with lots of hop character.  Over the past 30 years or so the beer we know is IPA has gone from being of beer of 5 to 6% abv to 7 ~ 7½ percent abv, and from 50 to 55 IBU’s to 70 plus IBU’s.  This is what is often referred to as taste migration, and while it happens fairly slowly over time, has been unusually accelerated over the past few years.  Part of this is due to the IPA wars where each brewer tried to outdo the other, and the public’s overwhelming demand of hoppier beers.  The current state of affairs that we see in brewing these beer’s is that a spectrum of colors, flavors, and aromas showcase the dryness, the maltiness, and the hoppiness as it is found in these beers.  Whatever you call these beer’s just think of the maltiness and the hoppiness as being two continua independently controlled by the brewer to effectively make for a narrowly defined combination of malt, hops, and water salts to produce a nicely hoppy and flavorful beer.

 

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