Putting the ale in India

By on March 27, 2014

Michael C. Upton

Michael C. Upton

Many moons ago, the world was a much different place. Ice did not simply fall out of a machine attached to your upright freezer door. An army did not zip across the world in hours via jet planes or massive vessels of steel afloat in heavy seas. And beer did not stay fresh very long if it was not kept cold. The horror!

As the tale is told, early in the 1800s the British Army was having trouble shipping brew to its colonial land-holdings (especially India). Beer just could not hold up for the amount of time it took for a wind powered sailing vessel to transport it. The East India Trading Company was losing money. Soldiers were getting grumpy.

All of the sudden, a process of over-hopping ale made with pale malt (to simplify the explanation of the method) allowed the kegs to arrive in a consumable state and the India Pale Ale, or I.P.A., was born. So it is said, and like any bit of history surrounding alcohol’s past the origin of the I.P.A. should be digested with a bit of fantasy.

One absolute fact is the I.P.A. is – and has been for at least the past eight years – the most popular brew among craft beer drinkers. The I.P.A. craze may not be a fad and local brewers are producing some fine beers to meet the demand.

At JoBoy’s in Manheim walking up to the bar and saying, “smash me,” will get you a pint of Smash 69, a single malt, singly Chinook-hopped I.P.A. On cask, JoBoy’s offers an incredible coffee I.P.A, which at 7.2 percent ABV will shake the jitters out of any rusty bones.

Speaking of unique brews, I jumped the gun last column, but I’m assured St. Boniface will unveil the latest in its Offering series – a flowery and scrumptious wheat I.P.A.

Anyone looking for a malty I.P.A. should try Union Barrel Works’ Hopnockers. Brewmaster and co-owner Tom Rupp is not a fan of overly-hopped beers, but his offering uses Cascade, Kent Golding, and Clusters hops to create an original I.P.A. suitable for most craft beer fans.

Earlier this year, Stoudt’s released Fourplay, a new I.P.A. for the brewery, which uses an experimental hop variety known only as 06300. Head Brewer Brett Kintzer says Stoudt’s is one of only a few breweries with access to the hops. Hop variety 06300 is the only hop used to create Fourplay giving it a truly unique flavor. (I.P.A. super fans might recognize 06300 from an earlier project by Sly Fox brewing in Phoenixville.)

Speaking of super fans … mark your calendars hop-heads! On April 26 Stoudt’s microfest series offers an I.P.A fest featuring more than 20 different I.P.A.s from microbreweries around the country.
Also, keep an eye out for a new brew from Sturgis House this summer. Brewer Jim Ament has plans to create a dark I.P.A. using a “newer variety hops that are showing up on the market.” Hmmm … Until then, cheers!

Michael C. Upton works as a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure, covering subjects ranging from funk punk to fine wine. He invites your comments and suggestions at facebook.com/SomebodiesProductions.

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