Today, August 2, is National IPA Day.
Beer holidays are always observed in our house. My husband is a professed beer nerd, an avid home brewer, and an aspiring craft/micro brewer who is currently in school to obtain a degree in brewing technology.
It took me several years into our relationship to really warm up to and appreciate beer (all alcohol really, except for mixed drinks and margaritas – I just never liked the taste). My default “adult beverage” was usually a wine spritzer. However, the hubs patiently and slowly introduced me to different beers, different styles, and different breweries. And I converted to the appreciation of good beer. My mom was stunned when she (an avid wine drinker) learned that her daughter was now a beer enthusiast and almost always chooses beer over any other alcoholic drink.
However, IPAs (India Pale Ales) are a style I have yet to warm to. Originally created with extra hops to preserve the beer until it traveled from England to India (Beer Advocate), the taste is not to my liking. Whenever my husband has me try a new IPA he is drinking I always make a face and complain that it is too bitter. “Beer is bitter!” is his reliable response.
I continue to persevere – after all that is how I made my overall break through with the beverage – but have yet to see the other side.
Double IPAs (also known as “Imperial” IPAs) are a different story. At first glance this matter of taste and preference is confusing. Double IPAs use, as may be obvious, roughly double the hops that regular IPA beers use. When we first discovered my non-cringing reaction to a Double IPA one evening at our local bar, my husband theorized that to balance out the excessive amount of hops other ingredients such as the malts used in the beer recipes are often increased as well and results in (I find ironically) a more balanced flavor. The Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines (2012) state: “Though the hop character is intense it’s balanced with complex alcohol flavors, moderate to high fruity esters and medium to high malt character” (p.12).
So there you have it – my lack of appreciation for what many beer enthusiasts consider their favorite beer style – and my at first inexplicable but then understandable like (I can’t go as far as love) for the Double IPA.
So tonight on National IPA day I will be raising a glass of the imperial stuff and call it close enough.