Thursday, August 1st is IPA Day! Around the world, beer lovers are celebrating their love for India Pale Ale and the countless varieties stemming from it. We personally love the “slap-in-the-face” a good, strong IPA can give you and wanted to look at what exactly makes an IPA, an IPA.

IPAs are popular within the craft beer community, and for good reason; IPA has a lot going for it. Aside from its usual place among the top three best-selling beer styles, it has a lot to offer flavor-wise, starting with the prominent ingredient, hops. Depending on the style (English, American, Double, or Triple), the intensity of the hops can range from mildly citrusy to intensely bitter. The robust floral and citrus flavors balanced with the sweetness of the malt flavors make the IPA so remarkable.

Surprisingly, with so much interest and fanfare surrounding the IPA, the exact history of this craft brew industry darling is still up for debate. The most commonly told story involves George Hodgson, generously hopped ale with high alcohol content, and the East India Trading Company’s desire to get said ale to British troops stationed in India during British rule. Ale with high amounts of hops and alcohol, both natural preservatives, were a necessity at the time as the long voyage from England to India caused traditional beers to spoil. The style became popular, and the rest is history, or nearly; high taxes based on beer’s alcohol content nearly caused the style to become extinct. The rise of craft brewers in the eighties and nineties reignited desire for the complex flavors and sub-styles IPA offered.

IPA beers are the bulldozers of beers, and they pair well with similarly flavorful foods like strong cheeses or stews; drinking an extra bitter IPA can easily overpower a mild tasting dish. In addition, some of the best foods to enjoy with your IPA can come from firing up the grill, as all varieties of red meat and barbeque stand up to the bitter hops, while bringing out some of the malt’s deeper flavors.  If you are unsure of where to look for a good IPA, there is no shortage of options: “Dreadnaught” by Three Floyds Brewing, “White Rajah” by The Brew Kettle, “Daytime” by Lagunitas Brewing, and “Pop-up Session” by Boulevard are great IPAs of different styles.

This IPA Day, raise your glass to a beer that hopped into the world nearly 200 years ago, and we have been enjoying it ever since!