Tuesday, June 20, 2006

June 2006 - India Pale Ale

One of the best parts about trying India Pale Ales was do some research about cricket. Cricket is the # 1 sport in India and anywhere the British Empire was present. The standard 2 inning game can last up to six hours a day for up to 5 days and we complain about baseball. Cricket appeared at one Olympic Games, at Paris in 1900. Olympic cricket lasted only two days and Great Britain is the current Olympic champion.

Now lets talk about the history of the India Pale Ale (IPA, also known as Imperial Pale Ale), is a distinct style of beer and is characterized as a sparkling pale ale with a high level of alcohol (modern day versions are usually 5.5% to 6.3% by volume, though the original versions were considerably higher) and hops, thus having an increased bitterness (in modern times typically 35-48 on the IBU scale, though originally probably more than 60 IBU). The creation of India Pale Ale (IPA) during the early 1700's was the result of tremendous efforts by British brewers to overcome a difficult problem: during the 1700's beer did not keep well on long ocean voyages, especially into hot climates.

The answer to the great beer problem finally came from a recipe created by George Hodgson at the Bow Brewery in East London. Hodgson began shipping Hodgson's India Ale during the 1790s. India ale was a variation of his pale ale, which Londoners had been drinking since the mid-1750s.These hot environments resulted in the arrival of flat, sour beer. Hodgson took his pale ale recipe, increased the hop content considerably, and raised the alcohol content. The result was a very bitter, alcoholic, and sparkling pale ale that could survive the challenges of travel and shelf life in India. IPA reached India in an enjoyable condition and Hodgson's success became legendary.

In the USA the style has been enthusiastically reproduced in recent years by microbrewers. The original highly hopped and long aged (one full year in wood before bottling) Ballantine IPA has not been brewed for more than 20 years; however at least in part because of that particular brand's legendary status in American brewing, the IPA style has become very popular with American microbreweries, where it has evolved into a distinct variant sometimes called American India Pale Ale (A few examples are Victory Brewing Company's HopDevil Ale, Two Hearted Ale by Bells Brewery, and Stone Brewing Companys Stone IPA). Although some are made to traditional recipes, American IPAs are generally brewed with citric American hop varieties such as Cascade, Chinook, Centennial, and Columbus. American brewers have also altered the style to increase the bitterness of the beer to well over 100 IBUs and the alcohol levels up to 10 or even more than 20 % alcohol by volume. These beers are referred to as American Double India Pale Ales or Imperial India Pale Ales. (However, the former is sometimes considered more accurate, since the word "imperial" originally referred exclusively to the Imperial stout style that was invented in England for export to Imperial Russia)

The first beer the Memphis Beer Club tried is brewed by Dogfish Head Brewery, 60 Minute IPA. Dogfish Head Brewery is a beer manufacturer based in Milton, Delaware. It opened in 1995 and produces 20,000 barrels of beer annually. As a brewery, Dogfish Head's output tends toward experimental or "extreme" beers, such as their tongue-in-cheek "Liquor de Malt," which typically comes in its own brown paper bag. Their products often use non-standard ingredients, such as green raisins in their Raison D'Etre. Some of their beers, including the WorldWide Stout, 120 Minute India Pale Ale, and the raspberry flavored strong ale Fort, are highly alcoholic, reaching 18% to 20% alcohol by volume.

Dogfish Head's signature product is its line of India Pale Ales (IPAs), which are offered in three varieties: 60 Minute, 90 Minute, and 120 Minute IPA. Their names refer to the length of the boil time of the wort in which the hops are continuously added. The longer hops are boiled, the more hop isomerization takes place, and the more bitterness is imparted to the beer. The numbering also refers to the amount of alcohol contained in the each beer: 6% for 60 minute, 9% for 90 minute, and 20% for 120 minute. This was by the far the favorite beer of the night. 60 Minute IPA had a IBU of 60.

Next we tried the Thunderhead IPA from Pyramid Brewing. Pyramid Breweries, Inc. headquartered in Seattle, Washington, is a brewer of craft beers, ales, and lagers. Founded in Kalama, Washington in 1984 as Hart Brewing, Inc., the company bought Thomas Kemper Brewing of Poulsbo in 1992. In 1994, Hart Brewing introduced Apricot Ale which went on to win a gold metal from the Great American Beer Festival where they were dubbed innovators in the fruit beer category. Hart Brewing changed its name to Pyramid in 1996 after its best-known brand. Pyramid features one of the single largest selections of beer types among a single brewer. They make beers covering all the major types including, ales, lager, wiezens, ciders, porters, and IPAs.

It took only a couple of rounds of India's finest for the 19th century British Colonists to write home, "Either send us some good beer or we're outta here." India Pale Ale is what was sent. Originally made extra hoppy to survive the voyage, its unique flavor also survived the Colonists finicky tastes and became and instant favorite back home. Pyramid Thunderhead India Pale Ale has the distinctively hoppy flavor and aroma craft beer enthusiasts’ demand. Abundant helpings of Columbus hops gives this ale an astonishing 67 IBU's - truly a beer for bold tastes! Thunderhead IPA has a BTU of 67.

The 90 Minute Imperial Pale Ale is also brewed by the Dogfish Head Brewery. This was the only Imperial Pale Ale we had at the tasting and was much sweeter than we all thought it would be. To further enhance the hop flavor of their 90 Minute IPA and 120 Minute IPA, Dogfish Head introduced a device in 2003 jokingly called Randall the Enamel Animal, an "organoleptic hop transducer module" which "Randallizes" either Dogfish Head 90 Minute or Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA by passing the beer through a large plastic tube filled with raw Cascade hops. The alcohol in the beer lifts oils off the raw hops and imparts even more hop flavor to beers that were already hoppy to begin with.

Esquire Magazine calls our 90 Minute IPA. "perhaps the best I.P.A. in America." An Imperial IPA brewed to be savored from a snifter. A big beer with a great malt backbone that stands up to the extreme hopping rate. 90 Minute IPA has a BTU of 90.

Next we tried one of Todd's favorite IPA's, the Avery IPA. Avery IPA is brewed by the Avery Brewing Company out of Boulder Colorado. Established in 1993, Avery Brewing Co. is a family owned and operated micro-brewery dedicated to brewing the finest quality English and Belgian style ales. From humble beginnings, brewing 800 barrels of three different beers in 1994, they have progressed to brewing 8,000 barrels of eighteen different beers in 2005. The unique flavor complexity of Avery beers occurs through a combination of sparing no expense with regard to ingredients and our hopping methods. Sparing no expense means using lots of specialty malts, imported hops, such as Styrian Goldings, and imported Belgian candy sugar. We love to brew it, knowing you love to drink it!

In the 1700's one crafty brewer discovered that a healthy dose of hops and an increased alcohol content preserved his ales during the long voyage to India (as depicted in our label) to quench the thirst of British troops. Today, we tip our hat to that historic innovation by brewing Colorado's hoppiest pale ale. Avery IPA demands to be poured into your favorite glass to truly appreciate the citrusy, floral bouquet and the rich, malty finish. Brewed by hopheads for hopheads! Avery IPA has a IBU of 67.

The last beer of the night was Sierra Nevada India Pale Ale, brewed in Chico, California by Sierra Nevada Brewery. As most of you know Sierra Nevada Brewery is the home of my favorite’s beer, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company was established in 1979 and began selling beers in February of 1981 by homebrewer Ken Grossman. Located in Chico, California, Sierra Nevada Brewing is one of the most popular microbreweries currently operating in the United States.

Their pale ale is world renowned, and the brewery produces about 600,000 barrels of beer per year. In 1989, after moving the brewery to its current location, Ken added The Sierra Nevada Taproom and Restaurant, which serves lunch and dinner. More recently the brewery opened "The Big Room", a live music venue located inside the brewery's facilities, and featuring world-class acts from country, bluegrass, folk, rock, blues and other musical genres. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is the second best-selling craft beer brand in the United States, behind the Boston Beer Company, makers of Samuel Adams.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. was founded with one purpose: to brew the finest ales and lagers. We follow traditional brewing methods, using only select malted barley, whole hop flowers, brewer's yeast, and pure water. The quality of our ingredients and our devotion to the craft of brewing shows in the superior flavor, aroma, balance, and character of our ales and lagers. The IPA is brewed using a blend of English malts and magnum hops are used for the early hop addition, with Goldings for finishing and dry hopping. A very flavorful and hoppy ale. Sierra Nevada IPA has an IBU of 65.

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