Certain beer styles just taste better at different times of the year. Give me a big Stout or Quadrupel in the dead of winter. I'll take a Saison or Hefeweizen on those 90+ degree summer days in Atlanta. And as college football begins and fall is on the horizon, all I want to drink are IPAs.
Beer styles tend to have hot streaks and become the must haves of the moment. Currently, sour and barrel-aged beers are all the rage, but those will someday lose their popularity and a new flash-in-the-pan style will have its moment to shine. One style though, has remained tried and true since its inception and has become the unofficial staple American craft beer: the India Pale Ale.
The style quickly caught on and breweries began producing IPAs all over England. American brewers later adopted the style and used our indigenous hops, which have a more pronounced bitterness and robust flavor than the English varieties. The Ballantine India Pale Ale became the first widely distributed IPA in America but it was the Sierra Nevada Brewery that popularized the style as we know it today, in 1980.
The Brewer's Association recognizes 84 different beer styles but when you factor in the sub categories of those 84, you get a total of over 150 various styles. There's truly a beer style for everyone. If you're one of those "I don't like beer" people, keep trying different styles. There's bound to be one that you'll enjoy.
I'm currently enjoying the heck out of IPAs. I'm always seeking out new ones and revisiting the classics that first turned me onto the style. But talk to me next month and my beer style of the moment could very well be a Bourbon Barrel Aged Pumpkin Ale. But for now, I'm all about the IPAs. I've listed the different varieties of IPAs below, along with my favorites of each and I'd love to know yours. Let me know in the comments below.
Because of the high cost and work involved, many breweries largely ignore this style and instead opt for dried whole cone hops or hop pellets. Fresh Hop beers run the gamut in color, bitterness, and ABV, with the only true requirement being the use of, well, fresh hops. This year's Fresh Hop Ales should be hitting the market soon and if you can get your hands on one of these, do it, the aroma and clean taste of the hops is unlike any other style. Here are three breweries that do it exceptionally well:
Peace and happy drinking, and share your favorites in the comments below.
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