I blog primarily over at "geosciblog" (http://geosciblog.blogspot.com), I am doing this one for fun. It is inspired by 30+ years of beer can collecting and having tried more than 3,000 different American beers during that time. “. . . And beer was drunk with reverence, as it ought to be.” — G. K. Chesterton

Friday, August 12, 2005

What is an Ale? - Pale Ales and India Pale Ales

As Ales represent a broad category, they will presented in small servings, for your enjoyment. This serving is of Pale Ales and India Pale Ales, both of which generally appeal to people that like the pronounced hop aroma and flavor.

From www.beeradvocate.com, Ales are distinguished from lager beers by the use of "top fermenting yeast strains, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The top fermenting yeast perform at warmer temperatures than do yeast's used to brew lager beer, and their byproducts are more evident in taste and aroma. Fruitiness and esters are often part of an ale's character."

The "ale culture" was largely brought to America by immigrants from the British Isles. More recently, Belgian Ales have found a following among some American consumers. They are quite different from the British/American ales.

A Beer Advocate comparison of Pale Ales finds that "American versions tend to be cleaner and hoppier, while British tend to be more malty, buttery, aromatic and balanced." Many people agree that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale to be the classic of the American Pale Ale style.

British Pale Ales are described as being "traced back to the city of Burton-upon-Trent, a city with an abundance of rich hard water. This hard water helps with the clarity as well as enhancing the hop bitterness. This ale can be from golden to reddish amber in color with generally a good head retention. A mix of fruity, hoppy, earthy, buttery and malty aromas and flavors can be found. Typically all ingredients are English." Royal Oak Pale Ale is cited as a good example of a British Pale Ale.

India Pale Ales were "first brewed in England and exported for the British troops in India during the late 1700s. To withstand the voyage, IPA's were basically tweaked Pale Ales that were, in comparison, much more malty, boasted a higher alcohol content and were well-hopped, as hops are a natural preservative. Historians believe that an IPA was then watered down for the troops, while officers and the elite would savor the beer at full strength. The English IPA has a lower alcohol due to taxation over the decades. The leaner the brew the less amount of malt there is and less need for a strong hop presence which would easily put the brew out of balance. Some brewers have tried to recreate the original IPA with strengths close to 8-9% abv." Fuller's India Pale Ale is cited as a good example of a UK-brewed English IPA.

American IPAs are described as having "a different soul from the reincarnated IPA style. More flavorful than the withering English IPA, color can range from very pale golded to reddish amber. Hops are typically American with a big herbal and / or citric character, bitterness is high as well. Moderate to medium bodied with a balancing malt back bone." Ballantine India Pale Ale was the first example of this style that many Americans experienced, it was especially good when brewed at the former Narragansett brewery in Cranston, RI. As Ballantine IPA is probably no longer available, I now enjoy Tupper's Hop Pocket Ale, Sweetwater IPA,

As is the American habit of having to "make everything bigger", there are Double IPAs, described as "Take an India Pale Ale and feed it steroids, ergo the term Double IPA. Although open to the same interpretation as its sister styles, you should expect something robust, malty, alcoholic and with a hop profile that might rip your tongue out." Rogue I2PA (Imperial India Pale Ale) and Flying Dog Wild Dog Double Pale Ale are cited as good examples.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?