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BREWS

Discovering IPAs BY MARK PREECE

I

t all started with a long ship journey from England that spoiled the beer – at least that’s one of the stories we have been led to believe. “There are all sorts of rumours swirling around in the old booze world,” says Rei Harris, commercial manager at Sawmill Brewing. “Essentially India Pale Ales (IPAs) were born when the likes of the East India Trading Company discovered hops could be used as a preservative to keep beer on its journey to India,” he says. “By loading the beer barrels with lots of hops, it not only kept the beer in good condition, but imparted a lovely vegetative flavour on its precious cargo,” says Rei, “and that’s how IPAs came about.” It’s the hoppy bitterness IPAs are renowned for that polarises many – winning their followers and scaring others off. The IPA sector is changing remarkably, “initially from loading heaps of hops as a preservative, which makes an unbalanced, ‘punchy’ beer,” says Rei, “to the current trend which is a Boston or East Coast IPA style, unfiltered, super-hazy, almost tropical juice-type beer.” And that’s great for the breweries who may release a different style of IPA every month, he Above: A tasting selection is a great way to try a variety of brews

says. “Everything from black or white IPAs, red or dry IPAs and hazy IPAs; it’s gone mental, all over the world.” These modern, hazy or unfiltered IPAs ironically have the very drawback that IPAs set out to resolve – they age quickly, says Rei. “Part of craft beer’s appeal amongst consumers is it’s unpasteurised and requires chilling to keep them fresh.” I’m not sure about you, but with all these delicious IPAs being brewed, they don’t get to age in my fridge. Chair of judges at the recent New World Beer & Cider Awards, Mike Donaldson says, “If you thought you knew IPAs, now is definitely the time to taste it again.” Here are some of the winners:

Sawmill IPA, 5.8% ABV. The body is so light and delicate it could almost be a strong pilsner. But on that athlete’s lean frame of malt there are buckets of ‘bright, zingy hops’. There’s an impressive citrus aroma, firm, crisp finish and the lingering zesty bitterness.

Sawmill Session IPA, 3.7% ABV. This baby IPA weighs in at 3.7 percent ABV making it the perfect drop for those who are watching the booze intake but don’t want to cut back on flavour. The hops are brightly spotlighted up front but are not left hanging by a disappearing maltiness.

Behemoth’s From A Can – Peach IPA, 6% ABV. Adding fruit to beer was traditionally done until around 500

It’s the hoppy bitterness IPAs are renowned for that polarises many – winning their followers and scaring others off. years ago when everyone got particular about the ‘rules’ – malt, hops, yeast and water only. The peaches add a distinct aroma that is less evident on the palate as the beer becomes more traditionally an IPA in flavour, albeit with a viscous, juicy body.

Croucher Lowrider – A Very Small IPA, 2.5% ABV. It offers the wonderful aromas of an IPA; a mix of pine, citrus, berries and caramel. The palate weight is reasonable for a small beer – it’s light and lean but don’t expect any different.

Garage Project Fresh IPA, 7% ABV. A fabulous interpretation of a modern hazy IPA – it brings layered notes; mango, passionfruit, melon, fresh strawberry and some grapefruit. “Juicy and moreish,” our judges said.

Liberty Hoptical Illusion Double IPA, 8% ABV. A double IPA masquerading as a giant pilsner? Brewed with all pilsner malts, which delivers a hint of sulphur typical of lagers but gives way to grapefruit, peach and dank tropical aromas – a big boozy, hoppy, resinous bomb of a beer. 87

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