India Pale Ale, better known as IPA at the bars for short, is a well-respected type of brew in craft beer world. But within the IPA umbrella there are two types – English Style and American, both still in the same family yet distinctly different. If you reside in the United States, you’re likely more well versed on the American IPA, so to even out your beer knowledge, here are five key things you should get to know about the English version.
English IPA is where it all started. The name “India Pale Ale” alludes to the history behind the beer. Back in the 1700s, Britain looked for a way to brew and send beer to India (then under the British Empire) without having it spoil. In order to do this, a great deal of hops was used to make a beer that would last across the entire journey, which averaged about six-months travel time. From there on out, it became a pioneer for many India Pale Ales to come.
What It Looks and Tastes Like
In general, English-style IPA has a gold to copper color to it and is clear to slightly hazy. It’s brewed from hops that produce an earthy, floral flavor and made with English yeast that often adds a touch of fruitiness. With this hop profile complements a malty side, which gives a bready, toasty, caramel and toffee finish, striking a perfect balance between hop and malt.
The Difference Between English and American
Take note that although also known for its hops, American IPA is not the same as English IPA. American IPA is fairly young in the craft beer community, with its first batch made in the 80s by craft brewers looking to give the original version an American twist. The malty and hop balance gives the English IPA a more rounded flavor where as the American version is often brewed from West Coast hops that give it a much bigger hop profile and bold flavor. To add, English-style normally has a lower ABV compared to its American counterpart.
English India Pale Ale these days can come from both its home turf as well as from American brewers. Some of the top-rated ones range from East Coast like Gold Stock Ale by New England Brewing Co., 3 Floyds Brewing Co.’s Blackheart from the Midwest to UK’s own Jaipur IPA by Thornbridge Brewery. Another one to try is Guinness’ Dublin-brewed Nitro IPA, one of the newer additions to the English IPA group that takes a more innovative method to brewing. It has a unique blend of carbon dioxide and nitrogen that causes smaller and tighter bubbles, giving it an ultra smooth, velvety finish to round off the citrusy and piney hop blend.
One of the biggest parts of being a craft beer drinker is holding a great respect for the art of pairing specific flavors and ingredients to please the palate. This innate mentality seamlessly carries over to pairing beer with food. You’ll likely find English IPAs in restaurant establishments or pubs so should you eat, try pairing the beer with aged/hard cheese, fried foods, burgers, rich/intense meats and deli sandwiches. It’ll satisfy your mouth and stomach and gives you ultimate taste-connoisseur props.
As a pretty trendy beer, there’s a lot to know about IPA, especially the English-styled version. The background, the taste, the differences between its American cousin, which breweries brew the best of it and what foods to drink with it are all crucial things to know. Take this knowledge with you to bring out the best craft beer drinker in you.