India Pale Ale (IPA) is, by far, the best-selling style in American craft beer. But the style is hardly a new phenomenon.
There is ambiguity as to the origin of the IPA. The most common story you’ll hear is that, in the 18th century, English brewers started adding more hops to their beer, out of necessity, to help survive the long voyage to India. While that is true to an extent – hops do act as a preservative in beer – beer historians contend that the IPA style was never really “invented,” but rather evolved over time. The style also became quite popular in Britain itself, although by the early 1900s, British IPAs were much lower in alcohol and with far more subtle hop character.
Anchor Liberty Ale, the first modern American IPA, debuted in 1975 to commemorate the bicentennial of Paul Revere’s ride. This all Cascade-hopped beer got the ball rolling and it’s been spinning faster with each year. The intervening decades have seen expressions of the style change color, get more bitter, get less bitter, grow, sour, shrink, get spicy, get fruity, murk-up and/or mutate to a near infinite degree, but the hop flower is the shining star under which all these variations sit.
Hop varieties range from the citrus notes of Citra and Centennial, to the fruity flavor and aroma of Mosaic, Chinook’s piney characteristics, or the tropical qualities of Azacca. New, experimental hops are constantly finding their way into beers, providing evolving aromas and flavors.
It has been interesting to see the American IPA style develop. There are now several subcategories: White IPA, Black, Red, Brown, Double, and Session. Fruit IPAs – mango, pineapple, grapefruit – are quickly growing in popularity. And hop profiles are evolving, too. Aggressive hop bombs have yielded to the newest trend: hazy, “juicy” New England-style IPAs that sacrifice visual presentation to infuse even more flavor and aroma into the liquid.
So, what style of IPA best suits you? You will find all of these variations on the shelves of Craft Beer Cellar Belmont. Talk to our Beer Geeks and get ready to experience a vast array of hop-forward flavors and aromas available in your area. The selection can be overwhelming, but that’s why we’re here.
Some of the iconic, nationally-available IPAs that have grown the style include Dogfish Head 60 Minute and 90 Minute, Ballast Point Sculpin, and Stone IPA, which was recently reformulated to showcase some of the new hops craft beer drinkers crave. Whether you’d like to (re)visit those classics or try one of the myriad new IPAs in our stores, you’re not short of options at Craft Beer Cellar.