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Beer styles: Top things you need to know about IPA

Brush up your knowledge on the popular India Pale Ale.

by: Beer Country | 06 Nov 2014
beer, IPA, drinks

When it comes to IPA there are two types of people in this world: people that love it, and people that don’t know that they love it yet. Yup, IPA is the king of the craft beer ring and it packs a one-two bitter hop punch that beer geeks just can’t get enough of. My first taste of IPA was like being smashed in the back of the head with a pine tree branch and landing face first into a tank of citrus and tropical fruits. Sounds awesome doesn’t it? Trust me it is.

How India Pale Ale was born

Like many great things in life, IPA was discovered by accident. I like to think it was the Universe nudging us in the right direction. After all, sipping on a quality IPA is kinda like getting a hug from the Universe. The short story goes that back in the day the colonial British troops stationed in India were a thirsty lot. So they had some pale ale shipped over but due to the climate and journey duration, the beer would often go bad. To fix this the brewers added more hops and a higher alcohol content to better preserve the beer and boom, India Pale Ale was born.

Styles of IPA

Today there are two styles of IPA: English and American. English IPAs tend to be more earthy and toasty with floral notes, while American IPAs are piney, citrusy and intensely hoppy. They come in various hues of gold, copper and amber and should have good head retention throughout the pint. Personally, I think the best way to find your favourite IPA is to get your hands on all of them and go from there. If you’re still warming up to the style, you could always start with the easier drinking beers and work your way up.  

Calling all Hopheads

One thing’s for sure, once you start down this hop laden road there’s no turning back. The force is strong with the hop, and when you get a taste for it, you’re done son. You’ll become what’s known as a ‘Hophead’ and before you know it, you’ll know all the IBUs of every IPA in South Africa. What’s an IBU? Glad you asked, IBU or International Bitterness Units is the scale that measures the amount of hop bitterness. Anything over 50 IBUs is where you want your IPA to be.

Food pairing with IPA

Another awesome thing to add to the already long list of IPA awesomeness is its food pairing potential. Blue cheese and IPA is one of my favourite flavour combinations. The sharp, hoppy bite of an IPA cuts straight through the rich, pungent flavours of blue cheese. Another winning combo is curry and IPA. The hops bounce off the spices and amp up the heat before washing it away. This is just a taste of food and beer pairing and the beauty of it is there are no rules, It’s whatever works for you. Now get out there and get your Hophead on!


Drink a Citizen Saboteur English IPA (English style)

Drink a Devil’s Peak King’s Blockhouse IPA (American style)

Word of the Day: Lacing

Lacing is the leftover lines of head that stick to the side of the glass as you drink the beer. An IPA should have good head retention that leaves lacing in the glass.  

Written by: Beer Country, two of the thirstiest guys on the planet - Greg and Karl. Follow their fire-side journey as they crack open the brew culture of South Africa, discovering awesome beers and cooking great food along the way. This hoppy adventure is coming soon to a TV near you!

Read more on: beer  |  craft beer  |  drinks

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