OK, The session is a monthly communal blog where subject where many different beer bloggers all comment on the same topic. This month the topic has been suggested by Justin of Justin’s Brew Reviews. He asks,
“For quite some time now, I’ve been wondering what makes the India Pale Ale (IPA) style of beer so popular. Don’t get me wrong–I thoroughly enjoy it and gladly participate in #IPADay. I’m just wondering, why all the hype?”
I’m not really sure where to begin with this one. I, like so many people, love a good IPA, and I’m not talking about Greene King here (I drink that because it’s cheap and readily available). I find a decent IPA or double IPA really refreshing at the beginning of a session or as a great way of completely mixing things up after a lot of heavy bitters and stouts. That’s why I like them.
I’d hazard a guess, and this is only a guess, that brewers (particularly in America) like IPA’s because it is easy to quantify their bitterness. We have all seen the claims of beer X having ten trillion IBU’s and then next week the brewery down the road comes out with eleven trillion IBU’s. I’m exaggerating, of course, but this does allow a sort of one-upmanship which can help with sales etc. Brewers will also like its appeal to us: the beer geeks; the one’s who make a big fuss about it online and help the brewers with free advertising and online hype.
But that brings us back tot the original question: why the hype? Well, give a heavily hopped IPA to a larger drinker, just your average bloke down the pub and see what they say. In my experience they pull a funny face and ask why anyone makes such a thing. Perhaps this is the most important thing? It’s a beer for real beer lovers and it helps to set us aside from those that drink any old swill just to get drunk. We drink it and love it because it is not like your average beers, a real hop bomb (and it’s the hop bomb’s which cause all the hype) will smack you in the mouth and not apologise for it, whereas even the most outrageous of stouts is smooth and luscious and forgiving. I suppose it’s the acid test, whether your really a beer geek or not.