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IPAs: Hoppy Heroes of the Craft Beer World



Craft beer enthusiasts rejoice! In this blog post, we’ll delve into the world of IPA beers and uncover the fascinating history, unique characteristics, and diverse styles that make them the hoppy heroes of the craft beer world.

What are IPA beers?
Think of an IPA, short for India Pale Ale, as Pale Ale’s big brother. It’s rollercoaster ride of flavors and aromas make IPA one of today’s most popular craft beer styles. So, what sets IPA beers apart from other styles? It all comes down to the hops. Hops are the flowers of the hop plant and are responsible for adding bitterness, aroma, and flavor to beer. IPAs are characterized by their high hop content, making them bold, aromatic, and often bitter in taste. Let’s start at the beginning.

History of IPA beers
To truly appreciate the significance of IPA beers, let’s travel back in time to the 18th century. Here’s the condensed version. British brewers developed this style of beer to withstand long journeys to British colonies in India. By adding extra hops, IPAs were able to preserve their freshness during the long and grueling voyage (about 6 months!). These early IPAs were known for their hoppy bitterness and higher alcohol content, making them a favorite amongst British troops stationed in India. And then, in the late 1970s, we Americans revived a passion for brewing and began to reinvent the old-world British style of IPAs—but with our own twist—chockful of alcohol and hops!

Today’s IPAs
Fast forward to recent years, IPA beers have experienced an unprecedented surge in popularity within the craft beer industry. Craft breweries worldwide have recognized the demand for hop-forward beers and have dedicated themselves to perfecting the art of IPA brewing. The rise of IPA beers can be attributed to their bold flavors, aromatic profiles, and endless possibilities for experimentation and innovation. Craft beer enthusiasts have embraced the hoppy goodness of IPAs, making them a staple in taprooms and beer fridges across the globe.

Characteristics of IPA beers
IPA beers are known for their distinct characteristics that set them apart from other beer styles. The most prominent feature of an IPA is its hop-forward profile. The bitterness from the hops is balanced by a malty sweetness, creating a harmonious flavor profile. IPAs often exhibit floral, citrus, and piney aromas, making each sip a delightful sensory experience. Additionally, IPAs tend to have a higher alcohol content than other beer styles, adding an extra punch to their already robust flavor.

Brewing process of IPA beers
The brewing process of IPA beers follows the same general steps as other beer styles but with a focus on maximizing the hop character. It all begins with selecting quality ingredients, including malted barley, water, yeast, and, of course, hops. Brewers carefully measure and mix these ingredients to create a grain mixture known as the mash. The mash is then heated to activate enzymes that convert the starches in the barley into fermentable sugars.

Once the sugars have been extracted, the liquid, known as wort, is separated from the grain. The wort is then boiled, and hops are added at various stages to impart bitterness, flavor, and aroma. The duration and timing of hop additions can greatly influence the final character of the beer. After boiling, the wort is cooled and transferred to a fermentation vessel, where yeast is added. The yeast consumes the sugars, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide, resulting in the creation of IPA beer.

Different styles of IPA beers – including Juicy IPAs and New England IPAs
While the traditional IPA remains a beloved classic, the craft beer industry has witnessed the emergence of various styles that put a unique spin on this hoppy delight, like the Juicy IPA, also known as a Hazy IPA. This style is characterized by its cloudy appearance and intense fruity flavors. Juicy IPAs often feature hops with tropical fruit notes, such as mango, pineapple, and passionfruit, creating a juicy and refreshing taste experience.

Another popular variation of the IPA is the New England IPA. This style originated in, you guessed it, the New England region of the United States. Unlike traditional IPAs, New England IPAs have a hazy appearance and a smooth, creamy mouthfeel. They are known for their tropical fruit flavors, low bitterness, and balanced malt backbone. The New England IPA has quickly gained a loyal following for its approachable and flavorful nature.

So, the next time you find yourself at Makai Brewing Company, don’t hesitate to ask for an IPA. Your taste buds will thank you for joining the hoppy revolution!