I’d start with “Good Morning”, but I have no idea what time of day you’re going to read this. Today I’m going to talk about IPA’s and share some beer terminology that will help decipher the latin on the side of your bottle and hopefully make standing in line at BeerFest this summer not seem like you’re getting on a plane in Calcutta. An India reference already? Yup.
Keep calm and do what she says.
A few year’s ago I was visiting Ontario, where the craft beer selection is slim and at Provincial liquor stores (LCBO), it’s even worse. I lucked into finding some Flying Monkey Smashbomb Atomic India Pale Ale (IPA) and a friend asked me, “What’s an Eepah?”. I realized that by “eepah”, she meant IPA. It suddenly occurred to me that I was in a dark and terrifying place, MolsonLabattAnnheuserBuschland. Was that friend a blonde? Does Pinocchio’s girlfriend have wooden slivers? Ontario is not without good beer, but they require better hunting skills than we do.
India Pale Ales have some great history starting in the mid 1700’s in England when British sailors, soldiers and expatriates living in India didn’t have access to the normally delicious ales they had become accustomed to. The standard ales of the day would spoil during long, hot voyages by sea, so something needed to be done. Living without good beer simply just wouldn’t do. Leave it to the Navy to try to find a way to have a beer anywhere they wanted, even Captain Cook and his Officers onboard the Endeavour were involved in some of the early attempts at shipping concentrated wort, then subsequently adding water, yeast and spruce once they had been at sea for awhile in cooler waters. These cooler waters included New Zealand and eventually Eastern Canada and gave birth to Spruce beer which was used for fighting scurvy since spruce was high in Vitamin C.
After many years of trial and error, the solution of preservation and quality came from a guy named George Hodgson who had been brewing the first pale ales for years. By adding hops and increasing the level of alcohol in the beer, then called India Ale, George’s beer faired well in rough seas and warm temperatures in transit to India. Thus, we were given the India Pale Ale.
Fun fact: Calling Alexander Keith’s an India Pale Ale is like buying a tent at Canadian Tire and calling it vacation property.
Today in the Pacific North West (PNW), we are surrounded by some of the best IPA’s to be found anywhere. Some of my favorites are: Driftwood Brewing’s Fat Tug IPA, Tofino Brewing’s Hop Cretin IPA, Ninkasi Brewing’s Tricerahops Double IPA, Gigantic Brewing’s IPA, Epic Brewing’s Armageddon IPA, Stone Brewing’s “Enjoy By” series of IPA’s, Pyramid Brewing’s Thunderhead IPA, Howe Sound Brewing’s Devil’s Elbow IPA, and the very first IPA that I enjoyed was Tree Brewing’s Hop Head IPA and it’s still a great one.
Spinnaker’s Spirit Merchants in Vic West are the 3rd largest seller of IPA on Vancouver Island and 11th in British Columbia. I recommend checking them out.
Now, time for some easy-learning:
ABV: Alcohol by Volume (Higher the ABV, the better chances are you’re not going to work in the morning). If you’d like a more scientific explanantion, ask your high school science teacher or the guy returning bottles to buy 40’s of Olde English 800. Chances are Plato to ABV that they might both be the same guy.
Beer: The reason I get up in the morning, and occasionally the reason I don’t get up in the morning.
Cenosillicaphobia: Fear of an empty glass.
…other letters in the alphabet that make up words;
IBU: International Bitterness Units (commonly listed on most IPA’s), just like it sounds it’s a scientific way of knowing how tight your face is about to pucker agreed upon by science people in white coats all over the world.
Plato: This is another mathematical way of approximating your desire to call your ex-girlfriend at 1am. Plato is a description of the ratio of fermentable malts to water. Roughly, Plato to an approximate ABV is to divide Plato by 2.5.
Specific Gravity/Original Gravity: A hydrometer is used to measure the density of wort and later the density of the fermented beer relative to the density of water. A calculator is used to tell you how drunk you will get.
The results are in: Lab glasses will never get you laid unless your name is Kari Byron.
I hope you enjoyed today’s read. You’ll either love IPA or hate it and that’s ok, but save your lies for trying to get laid while wearing lab glasses and a purple turtleneck. And remember, get it good and get it fresh.