India Pale Ale is undoubtedly the most popular beer style at the moment having grown from relative obscurity in the 1970s to now dominate craft beer brewing. As peoples tastes acclimate to the hoppy bitterness and pungent fruity aromas of IPAs, brewers are on the lookout for new ways to develop the style. The ever evolving world of craft brewing has thrown out a whole host of new derivatives. So with that in mind here is Part One of my rundown on some of the more popular IPA sub-styles. You can check out part two , here
Double IPA/Imperial IPA
The first sub-style to emerge are brewers tried to “push the envelope”. Bigger body, more hops and more alcohol. This soon took on another level with the introduction of Imperial or triple IPAs with even higher alcohol. Double IPAs can be prohibitive to make due to the amount of hops used and the duty on alcohol so are often only seen as limited releases but Carlow Brewing’s excellent O’Hara Double IPA is a great option available year round.
Here rye is added to the malt bill, this lends a crisp spicy edge and a sometimes a slightly tangy tone while also adding a fuller mouthfeel to accentuate the hop notes. Check out Ruthless Rye from the masters of pale ale, Sierra Nevada.
We have a long history of producing red ales in Ireland so it is no surprise that this style has become popular with Irish brewers and drinkers. A red ale brewed to a higher alcohol content and liberally hopped with smooth caramel and sometimes toasty malt softening out the hops. Try Red Doe by White Hag, you won’t regret it.
The nomenclature of beer styles much like the beers themselves can sometimes get a little murky. So we get the oxymoron: Black India Pale Ale. These present a high hop content balanced with a distinct dark roast malt character. The hop bitterness and fruit is balanced with chocolate and coffee roast malt flavours and aromas. Think of this as hoppy porter. The limited release Black Hammer from Brewdog is definitely one to search out.
IPA, a beer for everyone’s taste… as long as you like them hoppy!