You know the story. The India pale ale was the answer to the problem of providing beer for the British Empire in the east. It was too hot to brew in India, so what was needed was a beer that could survive the grueling six-month journey from Britain intact. In the 1780s, a London brewer called Hodgson answered the call by sending out a strong, heavily hopped beer called October ale that would normally be aged like wine before drinking. The beer not only survived the journey, but also was found to have improved immeasurably. This was the prototype IPA; the beer gradually became paler and more refreshing to suit the Indian climate. Then American brewers started using newfangled hops such as Cascades, which Anchor’s Liberty Ale and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale use to great effect, giving the beer big citrus aromas and flavor. It’s been almost 20 years since India pale ale became the darling of the American beer world, and its popularity shows no signs of slowing down. If anything, it’s only getting crazier. These days it isn’t enough to simply make an IPA. You have to make one that stands out — and not just with American vs. English or doubles and triples. Peaks and Pints’ beer flight offers five of the 15 most popular IPA varieties. Take a tour with Craft Beer Crosscut 11.27.17: A Flight of IPA Variety Pack.
7.5% ABV, 20 IBU
New England IPA: An endlessly debated new sub-type, these IPAs are also known as Vermont-style IPA, East Coast IPA or hazy IPA, which is their defining characteristic. They’re usually described as juicy, with an appearance reminiscent of orange juice, somewhat like a hefeweizen. Pike Brewing Company, with their new Tankard & Tun gastropub and now a new experimental one-off series called “Pike Third Story,” finally joined the haze craze with its Hazy IPA. Big hop aromas greet followed by a playful juicy sweetness reminiscent of mandarin oranges, thanks to the juicy, citrus flavors of Centennial and Mosaic hops.
8.2% ABV, 65 IBU
Black IPA: Using dark and/or roasted malt, American black IPAs offer roasted flavors. On of the more popular versions, Lagunitas Brewing’s NightTime Ale, pours a lovely jet-black color with a nice thick tan head. The aroma has a bitter citrus up front with a fairly decent bitter coffee taste with a hint of sweetness toward the end. It tastes sweet but carries a tad of bitterness to impart a slight invasive and inviting real coffee flavored black IPA, followed by a wave of orange, pine and floral hops before finishing with a light roastiness.
7% ABV, 67 IBU
Fruit IPA: Hoppy IPAs receive a summery fruit boost with additions of apricot, tangerine and fresh-cut pineapple, or in the case of Sierra Nevada’s Pronto IPA, mango. Featuring a bevy of fruit-forward and floral hops — including Calypso, Comet and Centennial — Pronto IPA adds mango and hibiscus to enhance the natural hop flavors and ratchet up the complexity. It was brewed for Trader Joe’s 50th anniversary, but Peaks and Pints asked for some, pronto.
9.8% ABV, 68 IBU
White IPA: Take an IPA, add the same spices you’d use to brew a Belgian witbier — typically coriander and orange peel — and leave it, in most cases, unfiltered. But, in the case of Walking Man Brewing, you add an ancient race of humanoid ice creatures that live beyond the Wall in the very north of Westeros that, now winter has arrived, they’re able to walk south — and are walking with a vengeance. Walking Man Brewing Co. White Walker is an imperial white IPA with blood orange. It’s a beautifully hazy orangish beer with big, bright aromas of orange, grapefruit and Belgian yeast esters in the nose. The beer drinks much like it smells bringing forth a wheaty, citrusy wave of flavor before finishing dry with strong grapefruit flavors and leaving a wonderfully hoppy bitter finish.
9% ABV, 80 IBU
Coffee IPA: One of the newer IPA appellations, carefully chosen coffee beans are brewed into the mix to create a delicate balance of coffee and hops. And, of course, Stone Brewing jumped on it — taking it up to a 9 percent double IPA brewed — inexplicably — with cocoa, milk sugar and coffee. Stone Mocha IPA blurs the lines between an IPA and a stout. Technically an all-out double IPA, this decadent creation is brewed with the combination of golden-roasted coffee, pure dark chocolate and citrusy hops. The result is a love child of a beer characterized by a beautiful meld of imperial IPA and mocha indulgence.