What’s Brewing? IPAs up close and personal
In this part 2 of 2, let’s continue our look at some of the various types of IPAs. With so many being offered, how do we know which one to pick?
They’re not all bitter nor are they all hazy, juicy, dank or fruity. Hopefully, this will provide some guidance in this ever-growing category and help you decide which IPA is right for you.
American Style or West Coast India Pale Ale
When someone talks about a West Coast IPA, expect a big smack in the taste buds from the pronounced presence of hops. West Coast IPAs are all about showcasing the hop character by bringing out big aromas and fruity flavors the hops have to offer. The term “dank” is often used when describing these beers too. This IPA will be gold to copper in color and may be slightly hazy and even more so if served chilled. The aroma and flavor of malt will be present, although the big tropical fruit flavors, floral, citrus and piney character from the hops will dominate the aroma and taste in this beer.
The Brewers Association declares “Juicy or Hazy IPA” a style that’s also referred to as a New England IPA. This style of beer was born from a handful of brewers in New England who created unfiltered IPAs that produced a hazy appearance. New England IPAs have a softer mouthfeel along with a fuller body than other IPAs too. In addition to the beer being unfiltered, brewers can use oats and/or wheat to contribute to the haziness as well. These IPAs have juicy citrus aromas with relatively low bitterness compared to other IPAs. Great news for those just getting started on IPAs or for anyone who’s looking for something less bitter!
This is not a heavy-bodied beer. Black IPAs range from light to medium bodied and have a roast-like taste due to the black malt that’s used to brew this beer. Despite the roasted malt taste, expect this beer to be drier, crisp and to have a bitter hop finish.
The white IPA is a combination of two different beer styles. This Frankenbeer is half Belgian Witbier and half IPA. Pilsner malts and wheat are used along with Belgian yeast. Knowing this, you can expect some of the fruity and spicy characteristics from that of a Belgian Witbier. However, the addition of hops adds a plethora of hop-forward bitterness to this IPA which makes it unique.
Now here’s the part that gets really tricky! After everything we’ve learned in these last two articles about IPAs, inevitably you’re going to find one that doesn’t fit into any of these categories. It might be labeled “North, South, East, West Coast IPA” and have fruity flavors like a West Coast but appear as hazy as a New England IPA. To add more confusion it might have a reddish hue and an ABV that constitutes a session beer. Makes no sense, I know. But does all this labeling really matter if we like the taste? The uniqueness of it all and our own interpretation is part of the reason we continue to seek out new breweries. We’re always hoping to find that one we can’t get enough of. Mix that with friends and good conversation and you have a concoction that will last a lifetime.
Try one of these IPAs at your local brewery or for sale at a distributor near you. Cheers!
American Style IPA
BRC (7% ABV) is an India Pale Ale bursting with juicy hops courtesy of a huge late addition of Mosaic and Citra hops combined with a healthy dry hopping of the same. This beer has a smooth yet sweet malt backbone and a nice hop punch.
New England Style IPA
General Braddock’s IPA (6.8% ABV) pours hazy and has a bright yellow-orange color. Aromas of pineapple, clementines and citrus rind. The flavor has notes of tangerines, clementines, pineapple, apricot and overripe mango. Has a pine finish with a lingering bitterness.
Hellen Black (7.8% ABV) is a dark IPA. They balanced the assertive hops with roasted malts that could intrigue the noblest of hopheads and IPA enthusiasts around.
Chainbreaker (5.5% ABV) is brewed with wheat and pilsner malt. This IPA displays beautiful citrus aromas from Cascade and Citra hops that meld with the esters of Belgian yeast. A thirst quenching hopped-up wit beer with enough IBUs to warrant the IPA name.
Mark Brewer is a Tribune-Review contributing writer. He’s the author and illustrator of “Brewology, An Illustrated Dictionary for Beer Lovers.”