Happy National IPA Day!
Me being a HUGE fan of the IPA and an Untapped user I look forward to this day each year. Is it sad that I enjoy unlocking badges on Untapped? Some may say yes but to me I say it is nice to be rewarded even if it is just a digital badge for drinking a good beer. Today of all days I am happy to get my National IPA Day badge because it rewards me for a style of beer I enjoy weekly. So now that I have gone on my Beer Geek rampage let’s take a look at the style of beer that so many people across America enjoy every day and where it came from.
The IPA or the India Pale Ale was allegedly invented by the British during their attempt to colonize India. The story is always told that the beer they were shipping from Britain to their troops in India was failing to endure the voyage all the way around Africa. Extreme Heat (crossing the equator) and the extended storage without the benefit of cooling through modern refrigeration as a result, It spoiling on the trip. The British had to things to work with that actually do the job of preservation: alcohol and hops. According to the story, George Hodgson of East London’s Bow Brewery created the very first IPA. It had a higher alcohol content and a more bitter taste but mostly it was able to survive the long ocean voyage.
Breweries eventually started to pop up in more locations, and the invention of refrigeration came about. The original struggles that caused the creation of the IPA were overcome, yet the IPA stuck around and grew into a style of beer enjoyed for its flavor profile outside of just a need to be hopy to survive shipment.
Now all of that apparently is beer myth, it never happened! There is no evidence whatsoever that Hodgson “invented” or “developed” a new beer especially for the Indian market: no record that he did, nor claim by Hodgson himself or his successors that he did. In fact, the IPA was not even an overly strong beer for the time, being about 6.5 to 7% ABV, around the same strength as the beer of choice back then, which was the porter.
The closest thing researchers can find that suggested the Hodgson did anything close to creating a new style of beer is when he brewed his October-brewed “stock” bitter ale. The beer may have gone through a lucky and unexpected maturity in cask that would have taken two years in a cellar, and arrived in the East in prime condition. There is no evidence Hodgson planned this from the start or knew it would happen he was just got lucky.
So regardless of the actual history or where the IPA came from take time to grab a drink today and enjoy a Hop filled glass of goodness!