India Pale Ale is far and away my favorite beer. I favor the IPA both when brewing and heading down the aisles of the liquor store. The IPA has it’s roots in England in the 18th Century. Pale Ale’s became big as brewing started using pale malts, barley lightly malted, creating a lighter, smoother ale. These Pale Ale’s were lightly hopped for bittering and aroma flavors. The IPA was created when more hops were added as demand for hoppier beers from the East India Company increased and then spread to increased exports to Russia. More on the history of the IPA here.
Below are 5 of my favorite IPAs to both drink and brew. Each has it’s own flavor and it’s own story. Grab a brew at the store or better yet, pick up a clone recipe and brew your own.
Pliney the Elder
If you have a love affair with hops as I do, Pliney the Elder is sure to satisfy those inner hop monsters. This fantastic West Coast IPA is smooth and crisp with a nice aroma finish that begs for more. Pliney wins best beer year after year in a variety of competitions and categories. Heavy on the aroma hops with a good malt character, the taste is both floral and sweet. Buy a beer kit here. I have brewed this and it is a true Pliney the Elder.
This beer is actually an India Black Ale, making it a bit more malty. Prior to brewing this I had not had a black ale and I immediately fell in love with the smooth, malty, yet hop-rich flavor of this beer. Must have and easy to brew. Equally important, it is a must have with chocolate chip cookies, it is dangerously tasty. Grab a kit.
One of my favorite MN beers, Furious is brewed by a great group of folks in Brooklyn Park. The charismatic owner has fought to change strict MN liquor laws and has a great story to tell on opening the brewery. Furious is a very flavorful beer with a medium mouthfeel, smooth bittering and heavy aromatic character. Pick up a kit at Northern Brewer. I have brewed this and it tastes just like the real thing.
Bells Two Hearted
A favorite go-to beer out of Michigan, Two-Hearted is a hop rich delight. It has a rich aroma hop flavor and a crisp finish for an IPA. At 7%, this IPA packs a punch after a few. Grab the recipe here. Northern Brewer has a it’s clone version of the beer in it’s Dead Ringer, also a good IPA.
Hopslam is one of the most sought after beers in MN and for good reason. This 10% IPA packs a serious hop punch. This beer hits from both sides, bitter and aroma. Starting with 6 varieties of hops in the boil and a massive dry hop, it has a substantial hop schedule and a bit of honey to give it a nice body. There are a variety of clone recipes available online, but nothing directly from the brewery.