There's a whole lot of craft beer and beer styles to love, as we've seen over and over again. But one style that's risen to the forefront of the American craft beer scene has found its foothole among beer drinkers — and that's the IPA.
It's hard to imagine a time where we didn't love the overly hoppy bombs that's taken over craft breweries from coast to coast. But in fact, India Pale Ales are deeply rooted into the history of beer, as Joshua Bernstein notes; the India Pale Ale name originates from a time when beers coming to and from India were fortified with extra hops to keep them fresh. Those fragrant flowering plants didn't just act as a preservative, but also added a punch of bitterness.
Now, IPAs can be measured by IBU's, international bittering units. The higher the number of IBU's, the more bitter the beer is. Compare a Budweiser, at 10 IBUs, to an extra-hopped IPA, like the Sierra Nevada Tornado, at 65 IBUs. Yeah, that's a bitter brew. And yes, it's possible for IPAs to reach up to 168 IBUs; according to the Beer Tutor, the bitterest beer on record tops out at 2,500 IBUs.
Fortunately, for those still dipping their big toe in to the world of IPAs, there's plenty to choose from that won't make your mouth pucker like a Warhead. (Remember those!) Today's IPAs come with full, varied flavors, and a balance that is common to just about any beer style today. In fact, some believe that a brewery is only as good as its IPA. Tristan Chan, from Porch Drinking, notes that the IPA category is the most-entered category at the Great American Beer Festival. "If you’re visiting a brewery that doesn’t specialize in a style, the IPA is an instant judgment for how special their beer is," he says. Check out who we think is making some of the most innovative IPAs today, and start puckering.