In honor of some beer tastings and drinking I will be doing this upcoming weekend with a couple of British friends, I've decided that this week's Beer Style of the Week will be their favorite beer: English-style India Pale Ale. Let me preface this by stating that I am not a fan of very hoppy beers (pale ales, IPAs, IIPAs, etc). These beer styles definitely have a place in the annals of beer history and beer drinking, they are just not what I am going to be seeking out. Also, note to American craft brewers: Everything you make does not have to be hopped like an IPA. Note to American craft brew drinkers: Not everything you drink has to be a hop bomb. Expand your palate! As always, I will give you the published guidelines first, then give you my thoughts and impressions of some I have consumed. First up, the guidelines:

Here are the stylistic guidelines from the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) 2008 Style
Guidelines publication.

14A. English IPA

Aroma: A moderate to moderately high hop aroma of floral, earthy or fruity nature is typical, although the intensity of hop character is usually lower than American versions. A slightly grassy
dry-hop aroma is acceptable, but not required. A moderate caramel-like or toasty malt presence is common. Low to moderate fruitiness, either from esters or hops, can be present. Some versions may have a sulfury note, although this character is not mandatory.

Appearance: Color ranges from golden amber to light copper, but most are pale to medium amber with an orange-ish tint. Should be clear, although unfiltered dry-hopped versions may be a bit hazy. Good head stand with off-white color should persist.

Flavor: Hop flavor is medium to high, with a moderate to assertive hop bitterness. The hop flavor should be similar to the aroma (floral, earthy, fruity, and/or slightly grassy). Malt flavor should be medium-low to medium-high, but should be noticeable, pleasant, and support the hop aspect. The malt should show an English character and be somewhat bready, biscuit-like, toasty, toffee-like and/or caramelly. Despite the substantial hop character typical of these beers, sufficient malt flavor, body and complexity to support the hops will provide the best balance. Very low levels of diacetyl are acceptable, and fruitiness from the fermentation or hops adds to the overall complexity. Finish is medium to dry, and bitterness may linger into the aftertaste but should not be harsh. If high sulfate water is used, a distinctively minerally, dry finish, some sulfur flavor, and a lingering bitterness are usually present. Some clean alcohol flavor can be noted in stronger versions. Oak is inappropriate in this style.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, medium-light to medium-bodied mouthfeel without hop-derived astringency, although moderate to medium-high carbonation can combine to render an overall dry sensation in the presence of malt sweetness. Some smooth alcohol warming can and should be sensed in stronger (but not all) versions.

Overall Impression: A hoppy, moderately strong pale ale that features characteristics consistent with the use of English malt, hops and yeast. Has less hop character and a more pronounced malt flavor than American versions.

History: Brewed to survive the voyage from England to India. The temperature extremes and rolling of the seas resulted in a highly attenuated beer upon arrival. English pale ales were derived from India Pale Ales.

Comments: A pale ale brewed to an increased gravity and hop rate. Modern versions of English IPAs generally pale in comparison (pun intended) to their ancestors. The term "IPA" is loosely applied in commercial English beers today, and has been (incorrectly) used in beers below 4% ABV. Generally will have more finish hops and less fruitiness and/or caramel than English pale ales and bitters. Fresher versions will obviously have a more significant finishing hop character.

Ingredients: Pale ale malt (well-modified and suitable for single-temperature infusion mashing); English hops; English yeast that can give a fruity or sulfury/minerally profile. Refined sugar may be used in some versions. High sulfate and low carbonate water is essential to
achieving a pleasant hop bitterness in authentic Burton versions, although not all examples will exhibit the strong sulfate character.

Vital Statistics:

OG: 1.050 - 1.075

IBUs: 40 - 60

FG: 1.010 - 1.018

SRM: 8 - 14

ABV: 5 - 7.5%

Commercial Examples: Meantime India Pale Ale, Freeminer Trafalgar IPA, Fuller's IPA, Ridgeway Bad Elf, Summit India Pale Ale, Samuel Smith's India Ale, Hampshire Pride of Romsey IPA, Burton Bridge Empire IPA, Middle Ages ImPailed Ale, Goose Island IPA, Brooklyn East India Pale Ale

Here are the stylistic guidelines from the 2012 Great American Beer Festival.


48. English-Style India Pale Ale

Most traditional interpretations of English-style India pale ales are characterized by medium-high hop bitterness with a medium to medium-high alcohol content. Hops from a variety of origins may be used to contribute to a high hopping rate. Earthy and herbal English-variety hop character is the perceived end, but may be a result of the skillful use of hops of other national origins. The use of water with high mineral content results in a crisp, dry beer, sometimes with subtle and balanced character of sulfur compounds. This pale gold to deep copper-colored ale has a medium to high, flowery hop aroma and may have a medium to strong hop flavor (in addition to the hop bitterness). English-style India pale ales possess medium maltiness and
body. Fruity-ester flavors and aromas are moderate to very strong. Diacetyl can be absent or may be perceived at very low levels. Chill haze is allowable at cold temperatures. Hops of other origins may be used for bitterness or approximating traditional English character.

Original Gravity (Plato): 1.050-1.064 (12.5-15.7 Plato)  Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (Plato): 1.012-1.018 (3-4.5 Plato)  Alcohol by Weight (Volume): 4-5.6% (5-7%)  Bitterness (IBU): 35-63 Color SRM (EBC): 6-14 (12-28 EBC)

Now some of my tidbits of information, opinion, and recent tastings. I think the history of this beer is fascinating. British brewers knew that the long voyage of beer from England to India would most likely spoil the product. Also, knowing that hops are naturally antimicrobial, they just
added a bunch more dry hops to the barrels before they set sail. The long voyage through tropical waters allowed the hops to steep into the beer, giving rise to the India pale ale style. Another great thing about the style is they match perfectly with the complex and often spicy food found in India and southeast Asia. Serve this style just below room temperature (say about 65 F)
in an English-style pub pint glass to get the full aroma of the hops.

I have tried and enjoyed the Goose Island IPA, the Brooklyn East India Pale Ale, and the Sam Smith's India Ale. Based on my bias against hoppy beers, I can say they weren't bad, just not my favorite. I have recently tried brewing this style (a couple 5 gallon batches) for friends. They enjoyed the beer so I guess it was a success. I have a couple ideas I will be trying the next time I brew this style for a British friend. You can find these in well-stocked liquor stores across the country. If you like your beer hoppy or if you want to start down the road to being a hop-head, by all means drink English-style India Pale Ales.

On to NFL news:

NFL training camps opened this week. Over the next couple of posts I am going to give a breakdown of a couple things to watch for on each team one division at a time. I will start with the good old Black and Blue division: NFC North.

The two biggest question marks for the Chicago Bears are: 1. Can they figure out their offensive line situation quickly? and 2. Will the team buy into the new coach's schemes and philosophies? If the Bears cannot get settled and get decent play out of the left side of their offensive line, it is
going to be a long painful season for quarterback Jay Cutler in this contract year. With his propensity to throw interceptions when hit, sacked, rushed, forced out of the pocket as well as his recent injury history, I think this could be the Bears downfall. New coaches always come in with new ideas and schemes. Under Lovie Smith, the Bears were a defense-first team. Will the new coach have the same philosophy? Will the loss of Brian Urlacher at linebacker signal the
end of the once dominant defense?

The Detroit Lions made some noise in the offseason, signing Reggie Bush at running back and giving Matthew Stafford a big contract extension. Three players (Stafford, Bush, and Megatron Calvin Johnson) do not make a football team. Much like the Bears, will the offensive line gel and
provide the protection that Stafford needs to give him time to throw to Johnson? Will the offensive line make enough holes for Reggie Bush to run for daylight? Will the defensive secondary ever improve to be able to stop the quarterback arms race of the NFC North? Will Suh be suspended for significant amounts of time for his continued disregard for proper player decorum on and off the field?

The Green Bay Packers have the same questions going into this preseason as they have had the previous two, three, four...seasons. Will they be able to develop a competent running game that forces teams to stop playing 8 or 9 defenders in the box? Will the offensive line provide the holes
needed for the running back and Aaron Rodgers to do what needs to be done? It will be interesting to see if their experiment of switching their right side linemen to the left side will provide the needed protection. Will the Packers defense finally show up? Dom Capers is a competent defensive coordinator and innovator of new formations, but lack of a quality linebacker opposite Clay Matthews, porous defensive line play, and inconsistent play from the secondary has doomed the Packers in each of the last two playoffs. Can Mason Crosby kick
field goals or is his goal to hit every upright, every crossbar, and push a kick wide left in every field in the NFL?

The Minnesota Vikings are still up to the same old, same old. They sign every single former Packer they can and then talk trash throughout the entire season. One thing for you guys: "Shut up or show up!" I think Greg Jennings signing to replace Percy Harvin is still a loss. While
Jennings is a quality receiver, Harvin was better. Aaron Rodgers, and Brett Favre before him, probably had a lot more to do with Jennings playmaking ability than Jennings did himself. Christian Ponder is still a young quarterback. Will he be able to strive on a Vikings team that has been devoid of a quality quarterback (minus the one good Favre year) for a long time? Will a
young defensive secondary continue to develop? Will Adrian Peterson continue to be a running god or will he start to show wear and tear as all running backs do?

The NFC North is still the Green Bay Packers division to lose. Until one of the other members of the Black and Blue division shows up, I don't see anything changing. Prediction for records:

Packers 11-5 (division winner)

Vikings 9-7 (wild card)

Lions 8-8

Bears 6-10

Just my opinion...


July 26, 2013  05:19 PM ET

Usually make a trip into a near-by brew hub once a month that has a wide assortment of brews to taste.. sometimes I need 'something' different to throw my taste buds into chaos when sampling a new brew..
Still don't see anyone taking the North from the Pack.. don't see the Lions at 8-8 either.. more like 6-10 with the Bears.. could go 7-9.. but I doubt it

Comment #2 has been removed
July 27, 2013  02:14 PM ET

I will have to check that out jgb. Usually not a fan of Newcastle but willing to give the summer brew a try.


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