IPA’s seem to have come out of nowhere in the last few years to quickly become a firm favourite amongst craft brewers and a staple on tap in bars across Australia and the world.

This refreshing and hoppy brew seems to be made for today’s modern drinking culture, however the modern Indian Pale Ale we enjoy today is the result of almost two centuries of evolution.

IPA stands for Indian Pale Ale and it was first invented in response to the need to supply a good quality beer to the British Empire occupying the east. As it was too hot to brew in India, the Empire needed a beer that could survive the arduous six-month journey from Britain to India. At the time of British occupation the brew of choice was dark ales such as stouts and porters, but while these heavy beers kept well, they were totally inappropriate for the balmy tropical weather of India.

What was needed was a lighter ale that could also survive the long sea voyage. After several failed attempts, a London brewer called Hodgson entered the game with a strong, heavily hopped beer called ‘Barley Wine’, or ‘October Beer’. These ales were originally made for the wealthy to replace wine during times of unreliable supply and were brewed especially rich and aged for years to mellow out and develop a strong syrupy nature. To keep it tasting fresh after its grueling journey Hodgson loaded the brew with just-picked hops, which helped to preserve it. The result was not just a beer that survived the journey but actually improved immeasurably. As popularity increased, the beer evolved to become paler and more refreshing to suit the hot Indian climate.

Today craft brewers have taken the IPA style and made it their own, with many regions producing their own unique variations. The west coast of the USA is particularly prolific, using the big brassy hops native to the area to produce IPAs with big citric hop flavour and warm rounded malt.

In general, IPA’s should be well balanced with plenty of hops and big malt to match. Flavours are often characterized by fruity, floral and citrus notes, depending on the hops, which shine brightly through this refreshing ale. IPA’s are the perfect pairing to spicy curries and BBQ meats, or simply a relaxing afternoon in the sunshine.

Australian IPA’s

Feral Hop Hop India Pale Ale, Moon Dog Jukebox Hero IPA, Gage Road Sleeping Giant IPA, Young Henry’s Hop Ale, Mash Brewing Challenger IPA