Ever Tried The Indian Pale Ale? Origins Of The Popular Beer
- Yash Lakhan
Updated : September 23, 2022 02:09 IST
Know the interesting history of the famous IPA and its types all around the world
The India Pale Ale (IPA) is a beer style that is known for its 'hop' taste. Hops are a flowering plant that belongs to the Cannabaceae family. They are used in beer as a bittering, flavouring, and stability agent. Beer gets its bitter taste from hops. While some IPAs are bitter and assertive, other types of IPAs are light and fruity. IPAs cater to a wide range of taste preferences. The intense bitter taste distinguishes this beer from the other types. The goal is to make a beer with a prominent bitter flavour. When you consider that there are over 200 distinct types of hops in the world, you can see how diverse the options are for creating a unique beverage. Brewers use different fruity flavours to make things better and provide unlimited options. IPAs typically range from 5.5 per cent to 7.5 per cent alcohol by volume, but the majority of brands on the market are between 6 and 7 per cent. Session IPA, a type of IPA has a lower alcohol concentration than Double IPA which also is another type of IPA.
Let's take a look at the IPA's history.
So how did the beer get its name? According to legend, George Hodgson, a brewer at the Bow Brewery in East London, began transporting his pale ale to India in the late 1800s, packed with more hops and higher alcohol content. The hops, as well as the high alcohol content, helped to preserve the beer over its long journey by water from England to India. As a result, the India Pale Ale was born, a bitter and stronger pale ale that was more pleasant in the hot Indian environment than the dark ales and porters that were popular in London.
It is true that the English breweries struggled to make their beer survive the long journey from England to British colonies in India and the Caribbean. Beer in enormous barrels, known as hogsheads, would deteriorate and go flat throughout the journey because it was exposed to warmer temperatures while being jostled in the ship's hull. Various ways for delivering a product that would arrive at its final destination in a drinking state were devised.
Breweries discovered in the 1760s that adding more hops to all of their beers fortified them for the journey to warmer climates. They weren't just adding hops to pale ales; they were also adding hops to porters and ales. The beer that was exported was also not substantially stronger in terms of alcohol concentration.
While George Hodgson was not the first brewer to think up the concept, he was the first to accomplish widespread distribution in India. The Bow Brewery was popular with East India Company traders due to its proximity to the company's docks and the fact that Hodgson sold the beer with an 18-month credit line.
After becoming tired of Hodgson's dishonest business practices, the East India Company began looking for new brewing partners. They discovered some in Burton upon Trent, where brewers had lost valuable export markets in Russia due to the Tsar's prohibition. Hodgson's recipe for hopped pale ale was developed by the Allsopp, Bass, and Salt brewers, and they dominated the Indian market.
As export levels increased in the early 1800s, "pale ale made for the India market" became more popular. The word "India Pale Ale" was first mentioned in print in 1835 in an issue of the Liverpool Mercury. By the 1830s, beer lovers in England had a taste of this export kind of pale ale, and by 1840, the India pale ale had become one of England's best-selling beers.
By the turn of the century, the popularity of India pale ales had diminished in England due to new varieties entering the market and raising taxes on higher gravity beers.
Taxes on beer components soared in the United Kingdom during WWI, causing brewers to reduce the strength of their beer to save money. In the United Kingdom, IPAs now have a lower gravity and lower alcohol percentage, with many containing less than 4% alcohol. In the United States and Canada, they have adapted the standard IPA formula by incorporating peculiar American hops, resulting in a craft beer and microbrewery boom across the country. The sheer volume of IPAs brewed and manufactured has resulted in the development of sub-groups of the original IPA.
Over the previous century, India Pale Ale has evolved significantly, but it still relies on the same three basic ingredients: light malt, yeast, and hops. The simple components of this lager have allowed brewers of various ability levels to become artists, developing their own techniques and flavours atop a centuries-old brewing tradition.
Brewers developed this popular IPA type utilising hop cultivars developed in the United States in the late twentieth century. There are two types of American IPAs: West Coast IPA and East Coast IPA.
On the West Coast, the first American IPAs were brewed using new hop varietals such as cascade and chinook. With piney, flowery, and citrus flavours, these beers are particularly bitter. The ABV (Alcohol By Volume) of American IPAs ranges from 5.5 to 7.5 per cent.
This beer is a cross of two popular beer styles. These IPAs were brewed with Belgian yeast strains, which impart clove and spicy notes similar to those found in a Belgian tripel or hefeweizen (types of beer), as well as bitter taste and aromas typical of an IPA. Belgian IPAs have an ABV of 6.5-9 per cent.
Milkshake IPAs, also known as Lactose IPAs, are a newer style of IPA that has recently gained popularity. During the brewing process, lactose, oats, fruit, and/or vanilla are added to these IPAs. Lactose imparts a sweeter flavour and a creamier texture to the beer. Fruit can create a smoothie-like feel, while vanilla can enhance the milkshake experience. They have a hazy appearance similar to a New England IPA. ABVs of around 7% are found in Milkshake IPAs.
New England IPA
New England IPAs, commonly known as Hazy IPAs, are the most popular IPA style right now. The haze is caused by the fact that they are unfiltered and frequently contain wheat or oats. New England IPAs have a citrus flavour that reminds you of sipping a glass of juice and are exceedingly mild in bitterness. The alcohol by volume (ABV) will range from 6.5 to 9%.
These beers are the most authentic representations of the original India pale ales that were exported to British colonies in India. If you're used to drinking American IPAs, the first difference you'll notice is that English IPAs have a less powerful hop flavour and are better balanced by the malt in the beer. The ABV ranges from 5-7 per cent and the colours range from golden to deep amber.
The imperial IPA or double IPA was formed out of brewers' desire to "out-hop" one other. The hoppiness in these beers is turned up to eleven. Brewers utilised additional malt to balance the hops, which resulted in a higher alcohol concentration. With flowery, piney, resinous, and citrus overtones, these beers have a robust hop flavour and fragrance. Depending on the alcohol content, a boozy flavour may be present. A Double IPA's minimum alcohol by volume is 7.5 per cent, and it can reach 11 per cent.
The only drawback of 10% double IPAs is that you can only drink one or two before requiring a break. At the start of the decade, this ushered in a new era in the history of IPAs. Breweries started making IPAs with the traditional hop-forward flavour but a lower alcohol concentration than popular American lagers. With an ABV of around 5%, you can drink several beers in a single sitting or session.