2020 is the year no one expected. While summer vacations are indefinitely on hold, and you are long past enjoying “quality” time with the people you live with, we’re all looking for those silver linings. “At least we have _!” You can fill in the blank with “video chat!” or “online shopping!” or “Netflix!” As a craft beer lover, and a tired toddler mom, I’m going to say, “At least we have IPAs!”
It doesn’t matter whether you take your IPAs hazy and juicy, Belgian-style, dry-hopped or tropical. Let’s all celebrate the beer style that put U.S. craft brewers on the map – the style now beloved by millions of beer drinkers worldwide. Let’s hear it for the IPA!
What is an IPA?
If you’re reading this, chances are you already know what an IPA is. But humor me. Let’s take 10 seconds to loop in the uninitiated yet interested beer drinkers.
There are more than 100 beer styles, like hefeweizen (hefe for short), stout and pale ale to name a few. IPA is short for India Pale Ale. It’s the style that American craft brewers have made all their own.
In 1975, San Francisco’s storied Anchor Brewing Company released a new beer called Liberty Ale in 12 oz. bottles. The brewery called it a “special ale” and not an IPA, but its distinct hop presence left an impression.
« Today, of course, Liberty Ale might seem mild to many consumers used to much bitterer and stronger ales,” writes Tom Acitelli in All About Beer. “Those hopped-up India Pale Ales, however, unknowingly or not, took their stylistic cues from that pioneering Anchor Liberty Ale.”
IPA Beers in 2020
Ten years ago, I would have described an IPA as a “hop-forward beer.” Think: Smells like a pine tree! Bitter! But that’s not how we’d describe IPA in 2020.
Beer styles often have substyles. Brewers continue to innovate what an IPA can be. A new juicy and hazy substyle, coined New England Style IPA at first, started to turn heads a few years ago. New England Style IPAs are brewed to be juicy and fruit forward, even when there’s no fruit in the brewing process! You’re getting the aroma and experience of different types of hops as well as the pure magic of brewing beer.
As microbreweries started churning out their own take on the New England Style IPA, beer lovers who previously professed they weren’t IPA drinkers realized that they did like IPAs – the hazy and juicy kind.
Drink IPAs Fresh
Hazy and juicy is simply one type of IPA. There’s the double IPA, the triple IPA, the Belgian-style IPA. Really, I could go on and on.
While different IPAs offer different aromas and flavors, one rule of thumb is that you should always drink IPAs fresh. Brewers will tell you beer itself is a living thing. As Stone Brewing in Southern California explains, “Hops don’t last forever.”
One way you can enjoy a beer as fresh as the brewer intended is to buy beer in glass bottles. Did you know amber glass blocks nearly all visible light? That’s good news for beer. Glass is also made of natural ingredients: sand, soda ash and limestone. With glass beer bottles, what you see is what you get. No chemicals to leach from the packaging and no plastic liners.
The world of IPA beers is vast, but let’s explore some of our favorites that you can find in bottles today.
Deschutes Brewery Chainbreaker White IPA
The Oregon brewery just announced that after a four-year break, Chainbreaker White IPA is coming back in August 2020. Beer lovers are thrilled! Chainbreaker combines the hop kick of an IPA with bright citrus and coriander notes you’d get from a traditional wit beer with Belgian yeast.
Dogfish Head 60 Minute, 90 Minute & 120 Minute IPAs
Dogfish Head brews an iconic family of IPAs. So iconic, in fact, a contraption Dogfish invented has a place in American brewing history. The story goes that in the early days, founder Sam Calagione had an « A ha! » moment during a cooking show. The host was continually adding pepper to get a precise flavor. Sam realized the same might work for beer. The team modified a thrift store electric football game by swapping out the “dancing” football players for hops, then rigged it over the brew kettle to continually hop their beers, breaking from the traditional brewing process. That first version of Dogfish Head’s continual hopper is now at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
New Belgium Brewing Voodoo Ranger IPA
New Belgium Brewing launched Voodoo Ranger in 2017. The Colorado and North Carolina based brewery says beer drinkers love the refreshing take on the IPA because it “bridges the gap between traditional hoppy bitterness and juicy, fruity aromas.”
Omission Brewing Company Gluten-Reduced India Pale Ale
Omission brews gluten-reduced beers, including an IPA. Omission IPA uses classic hops grown in the Pacific Northwest. The hops lend notes of citrus, pine and grapefruit and malt sweetness brings balance to this classic IPA.
Pelican Brewing’s Hazy Rock IPA & Beak Breaker Double India Pale Ale
When you’re at Pelican Brewing’s original location in Pacific City, Oregon, you can hear, see, and smell the ocean. This summer, the brewery has been creating cool “Pelican Remix” recipes on Instagram, where they mix two of their beers to create a new experience. One Remix they suggest is taking a bottle of their Hazy Rock IPA and a bottle of their Beak Breaker Double IPA to create a super tropical IPA that’s perfect for summer.
pFriem Family Brewers Golden IPA
pFriem launched Golden IPA to celebrate its golden anniversary in 2017. The beer instantly became a classic summer favorite. When you pour from glass bottle to beer glass, the pFriem Golden IPA has a fluffy white head that emits delicious fruity aromas and jammy notes. The beer finishes with a tropical zing. pFriem suggests enjoying this IPA with hearty favorites like burgers and complex pizzas for a layered flavor experience.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Torpedo Extra IPA
Torpedo Extra IPA gets its name from Sierra Nevada’s “hop torpedo,” a device the brewery developed to boost hop aroma without making a beer too bitter. The hop torpedo “started as a napkin sketch in a pub,” the brewery tells us, and they brought it to life to replace an old school method of dry hopping beer (which involved nylon sacks filled with hops). The hop torpedo allows the brewery to efficiently infuse the beer with the aroma and flavor it’s aiming for. Now you know how Torpedo Extra IPA was born!
Stone IPA, Delicious IPA & Tangerine Express Hazy IPA
Stone Brewing has built its reputation around two things: a bold brand personality and its love for IPAs. Proof of both is in the brewery’s new “Leave No Stone Unturned” campaign. The brewery is releasing three of its IPAs—Stone IPA, Delicious and Tangerine Express–in bottles with upside-down labels. When you tilt the bottle to take a drink, those labels become right side up.
2020 might be the year of shortages, but at least we have time to explore new things like recipes, hobbies and beers. Drink those IPAs fresh so you can experience all the flavors and aromas the way the brewer intended. And remember that choosing beer in glass bottles can keep those hoppy, juicy beers tasting fresh.