Like most things that are distinctly American, IPAs (India pale ales) were not born here. They started in England, with additional hops being added as a preservative to beers that were being shipped to hot climates — including, of course, India. The elevated hop levels provide the bitterness that's become the calling card of IPA beer. While varieties vary from region to region and brewer to brewer, IPAs will always have a hoppy bitterness and high alcohol levels.
Over the last few decades, IPAs have become the unofficial mascot for beer enthusiasts across the United States. Every microbrewery has at least one, and often more, as a nation of hop heads grows, seemingly by the day.
While interest in hoppy IPAs might seem like a recent phenomenon, the beer actually dates back to the early 1800s. Before the addition of hops, the British shipped their beer to India for the troops who were meant to colonize the country, but the brews never managed to make the journey without spoilage. Adding the extra hops enabled the beer to withstand the long trip without going bad.
In the United States, there's a somewhat bitter — pardon the pun — rivalry between East Coast and West Coast IPAs. The former tend to feature stronger malts, while the hops take the gold in the West. These beers tend to have alcohol-by-volume levels of between 5.5 and 7.5 percent, though there are always outliers.
IPA Food Pairings
IPAs pair beautifully with strongly flavored foods, whether you're drawn to salty pretzels at the bar, rich curries, spicy buffalo wings or more exotic fare. They're also ideal for your next barbecue. Throw your favorite meat on the grill after you marinate it in a strong concoction, then chow down with an IPA close at hand. You'll thank us for the recommendation.
Types of IPAs
Of course, the craft beer renaissance wouldn't be complete without double IPAs — also called Imperial IPAs. As the colloquial name suggests, they have higher alcohol content and even hoppier flavor. Try them both. Who knows which version will tickle your taste buds?
If you're partial to fruity flavors in your beer, try Belgian style IPAs. They have similar malt and hop content to regular IPAs, but they're made with Belgian yeast. The fruity flavors can help disguise the bitterness, so this type of IPA is ideal for newbies.
Alternatively, try a few white IPAs if you're interested in embracing the bitterness. They're strong, delicious and full of complex flavors. Red IPAs have a ruby hue and are high on hops, while black IPAs — which are often considered the official American IPAs — have noticeably stronger roasted malt flavors.
Whether you're throwing a backyard barbecue or relaxing in front of the television after a hard day of work, IPAs hit the spot. Try as many varieties as possible to find your perfect brew, especially between different categories. You'll never know unless you do a little research, and let's face it: This is the kind of experiment we can all get behind.
So what are you waiting for? Buy IPA beer online through Drizly at a great price and have it delivered directly to your door. Cheers.
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