As today is IPA day aka #IPAday, I thought I’d look back at some of my favourites from recent years.
If you’ve been reading this for a while, you’ll know that I’m just a bit of a hop head. I love hoppy ales, the hoppier the better. One of the biggest let downs is when something is sold to you as an IPA but you just can’t taste any hops. If you’ve had hoppier wheat beers, that’s not a good sign.
Some people do not enjoy heavily hopped styles, being put off by a “soapy taste” or “flowery palate”. I can see where they are coming from with those descriptions, but I love the hoppiest beasts. If you look at my Untappd scores, massive hop bombs will be scoring 5, alongside Imperial Stouts and other very interesting styles.
An IPA doesn’t have to be all about hops hops hops (even though that’s my most important yardstick for one). Paleness is important to me, although not to everyone. Sometimes the most rounded IPAs are also very interesting, with big malts balancing out the hop fest. But they all need a special something. Otherwise you end up with efforts like Adnams “American Style IPA”, which lacks paleness and hops. Similarly “Legend of Hillside” by Hillside Brewery is not a decent IPA. Morrisons “Specially Selected” IPA (from Marston’s) or Tesco IPA are similar crimes. And don’t get me started on Greene King’s so called IPA (sorry Stu).
Thornbridge Jaipur remains one of my all time favourites, a modern British classic. Look at that paleness.
Its big brother, Jaipur X, where the X stands for 10 years and 10% alcohol, is insanely drinkable for a beer that is 10%. And Thornbridge don’t stop there – Halycon, their Imperial IPA is also a five star ale in my book.
Crafty Dan 13 Guns is another favourite, with 6 hops and 5 malts, a very good example of an American IPA. One of the best from Thwaites.
My favourite ever Shepherd Neame beer is their Classic Collection IPA, which is a feast of Fuggles hoppiness.
Salopian Brewery do lots of great ales, including Automaton, which is like being punched in the mouth by a boxing glove full of Citra hops.
Weird Beard are another bunch of hop heads. Holy Hoppin’ Hell Batch 4 (clue is in the name) is a very unsubtle beast, like being smashed in the face by Thor’s hammer, after it had been covered in hops. One of the beers of 2014 for me…
Closer to home we have Buxton Axe Edge – an axe made of hops, and also their Imperial Black, so dark and so hoppy.
Let’s finish with a quick trip to New Zealand:-
This was the Armageddon IPA from Epic Brewing Company, a big hoppy beast with malty and tropical fruit notes, which won Beer of the month for March 2016.
So many IPAs to choose from, and so many more to explore. Happy #IPAday!