Today is International India Pale Ale Day, so I think it’s fitting we crack into an IPA, on this, the holiest of days.
The IPA is the style that helped craft beer conquer the world, thanks to its massive bold flavours and versatility. Historically, the style started out in the 18th century as a hoppy, high gravity pale ale of the type first brewed in Burton, England, that was then shipped to India and dry-hopped en route in order to preserve the beer. At least, that’s how the story goes. Truth is, the origins are little muddied. But the one thing everyone can agree on is the hops. IPAs have always had a lot of hops.
When craft beer first began to take off in North America in the early 1980s, IPAs became the key style of beer to show off the bold flavours that were possible using new world hops. The ABV and IBUs shot through the roof, and soon dozens of different styles of IPA emerged.
There’s the classic West Coast IPAs (with their resinous citrus and pine flavours), black IPAs (aka Cascadian dark ales), white IPAs (made with wheat), hazy IPAs and New England IPAs (resembling fruit juice), Belgian IPAs (made with spicy Belgian yeasts), milkshake IPAs (which use lactose to provide sweetness and mouthfeel) and probably a few more that have popped up since I started writing this article.
One of the newest IPA styles to emerge in recent years is the brut IPA. Modeled after champagne, a brut IPA is light-bodied, highly carbonated, has massive hop aromas and is incredibly dry, using specially developed enzymes to reduce the body. Whereas New England IPAs are chewy and juicy, brut IPAs are pretty much the exact opposite.
Steamworks’ Brut IPA is one of the first local examples of the style to make it into a bottle.
The beer pours a hazy gold with an absolutely massive white head that laces beautifully. The aromas from the beer are incredible, bursting with all manner of fruit and citrus.
Admittedly, it’s not quite as light bodied and dry as the style normally dictates—although it has the requisite high carbonation and hop aroma in spades. That said, it’s really friggin’ delicious.
Brut IPA by Steamworks Brewing
Appearance: Hazy straw gold with a massive fine white head.
Aroma: Candied pineapple, tropical fruit, citrus, pear, strawberry.
Flavour: Tropical fruit, stone fruit, pineapple, pear, moderate hop bitterness, mild malt character of wheat and cracker.
Body: Medium-light bodied with a dry finish.
Pairs with: Malai kofta, pad thai and 10,000km sea voyages.