With new styles of IPA appearing on a seemingly monthly basis, how do you know what sort of customers might actually feel like drinking them? Welcome, says Adrian Tierney-Jones, to the world of IPA Tinder…
PA, India pale ale – what was once a specialist beer style is now the star of the craft beer bar counter, a must-have, well-hopped, pale-coloured ale that even novice drinkers know they should be ordering.
But which kind of IPA is going to suit which kind of customer? Just as soon as the hazy, juicy New England IPA became the latest thing, along came brut IPA. And that’s before we get onto American (both West Coast and East Coast), English, black, fruit, sour, red (or rye), white, session, milkshake and double IPAs. However, help is at hand for the IPA-overwhelmed bartender, publican or restaurateur out there with the FREE Imbibe match-making service below. You can thank us down the pub...
West Coast IPA
In three words: ‘Exotic, pioneering daredevil’
I’m free and easy, a bit of a daredevil. After all, I’m from the West Coast, where the Pacific Ocean doesn’t stop until it gets to Japan. I like nothing better than to be sprayed with the vibrant aromas of hops from Washington State’s Yakima Valley, which means I’m a fruity kind of dude, though more Carmen Miranda’s hat than the Man from Del Monte, with tingling tropical fruit (mango, papaya) and grapefruit notes, alongside a piney and resiny character. I’ve been around for a decade, but I’m still inspired by that classic pioneering American sense of adventure.
Lily Backoack - Aka 'The Adventurer'
In three words: ‘Dive straight in’
I have a sense of adventure when it comes to IPA. After all, I’ve recently returned from backpacking round South America, where I spent a lot of time scaling sheer cliff faces without the aid of a rope. I like the hops in my beer to jump out of the glass with the fi nesse of an acrobat – hops that remind me of a bowl of ripe tropical fruit in a sunny kitchen, alongside the smell of a pine forest after a shower of rain. I have a Tough Mudder at the weekend, but after that I want to dive straight into a glass of IPA that matches my sense of adventure. You sound right up my street.
Fourpure Shape Shifter
Pine and citrus on the nose, a bold push of tropical fruit on the palate and a bittersweet finish.
6.4%, £16/12x33cl, Fourpure
Not to be confused with New England IPA or East Coast IPA
In three words: ‘Ain’t no wallflower’
I’m the original IPA, the godfather if you like. I’ve been around since Mad King George and I’ve had my ups and downs, but my modern comeback is worthy of Liverpool in the 2005 Champions League Final. I like the gym. I’m brawny and muscular, and heady with aromas of deep musky orange and earthy English hops such as Goldings and Fuggles. I’m no wallflower though, but a rather complex and thoughtful kind of beer, as well as poetic and musical. I’m equally at home quaff ed in a pint glass or shared with bread, Cheddar cheese and crunchy pickled onions.
Johnny Tankard - Aka 'The Retro Fan'
In three words: ‘Authenticity and provenance’
I’m a bit of a traditionalist, though not a stick-in-the-mud. I love many kinds of beers and have oft drunk bright and colourfully hopped American IPAs, but am currently fed up of beers that seem to taste of grapefruit juice and want to return to something with a bracing bitterness and a bit more depth. I’m also interested in authenticity and provenance, and hum with utter pleasure when the blackboard advertising my local pub’s Sunday roast also shows details of where the meat and veg on the plate came from. Tankards are optional.
Harvey’s Star of Eastbourne
Bold, powerful English hop character on the palate, followed by a long, dry and bitter finish. A classic.
6.5%, £21.31/12x50cl, Harvey’s Brewery
Fruit IPA, black IPA
In three words: ‘Bright and breezy’
I like to look after myself and keep healthy, which is why I have plenty of fruit, whether it’s freshly chopped, pur éed or added as juice. I know some people say that hops alone can give plenty of fruitiness, but I’m of the opinion that something like grapefruit juice makes me even more friendly and easy to drink, especially for a generation used to Fab ice lollies. I’m bright and breezy, and happy to chatter away in the glass as if I was on a speed-dating night. If you like fruit juice with a hint of something more exotic, then you’ll love me.
Josh Spirulina - Aka 'The First Timer'
In three words: ‘Nervous beer virgin’
I’m looking to have a relationship with IPA, but I’ve never had one before. I’m a bit nervous about it as I’ve heard they can be quite challenging and difficult to drink, especially the ones where the hops are rumoured to strip away the enamel on your teeth, or the alcohol strength is mind-numbing. On the other hand, my friends have told me that a fruit IPA is an ideal gateway beer, something that will help a virgin like myself get used to them. Besides,
I’m very keen on my five a day – will this count towards it?
Fourpure Juicebox Citrus IPA
Orange peel is added to the brew and the result is citrusy and juicy.
5.9%, £17/12x33cl, Fourpure
Beavertown Bloody ’Ell Blood Orange IPA
Released in the spring, this has blood orange zestiness. What’s not to like?
7.2%, POA, Beavertown Brewery
Tart IPA, triple IPA
Double IPA (DIPA)
In three words: ‘Strong, silent, confident’
I’m a Tom-Hardy-in-Mad-Max kind of beer; strong and silent, but happy to flex my muscles when needed. Given that I’m made by adding as much malt and hops as a brewery’s kit can withstand, I need to be a bit of a bruiser. I have plenty of powerful hop character, with the caramel instincts of malt weighing in to balance, which means I am an IPA not to be trifled with. I am not meant to be drunk in pints, though some do, but I am also a thoughtful and contemplative beer that is sure of its own self and willing to be discussed and Instagrammed, and sold under a premium tag.
Robert Brewery-Shirt - Aka 'The Old Hand'
In three words: ‘Know my stuff’
I’ve been drinking powerfully hopped IPAs ever since I went to the US in the 1990s. There is nothing I don’t know about the history of IPA from the ships that took barrels to India in the 1800s, to the American hop varieties that give the style its distinctive character. When I go out for my double-IPA fix, I always wear a cool brewery t-shirt, featuring beers I’m sure that no one in the bar will have tried – I wore a Pliny the Elder one last week. Oh, and I always order a ‘DIPA’ at the bar with a straight face.
Magic Rock Big Dipper DIPA
Smooth and succulent, with a fistful of tropical fruit and aromatics.
8.3%, POA, Magic Rock Brewing
Verdant Brewing Co Pulp DIPA
Prepare to be bowled over by big hops, lush juiciness and a dry finish.
8%, £72.15/24x44cl, Pig’s Ears
Session IPA, white IPA
In three words: ‘Stay with me’
Some of my kindred IPAs can be insensible in the amount of hops they use and intemperate in the alcohol they carry, but I am a moderate kind of IPA; mild in strength, yet still bold in my hop character. I’m a calm, zen-like character with a bold inner strength that can be experienced when you take a swig of me (ever seen David Carradine in Kung Fu? That’s me). I’m easy company. You can spend all night with me without being poleaxed by my alcoholic strength.
Isadora Sessions - Aka 'The In-Control Hophead'
In three words: ‘Don’t underestimate me’
I might seem meek and mild and concerned about alcoholic strength, but I am really in love with hoppy beers and have a knowledge of US hops to prove it. However, what I really admire is the artistry a brewery has when it produces a hoppy beer that you can drink several pints of. For me the session IPA is that manna of the gods, a beer that I can spend a night in the pub drinking, whether with a bunch of cheerful friends or tapping my feet along to a band whose drummer might have once played in an almost famous Brit-pop combo.
Beavertown Neck Oil
Boldly hopped, with a swirl of tropical fruit and a firm bitterness in the finish.
4.3%, £31.87/24x33cl, Beavertown
Fuller’s Session IPA
Four US hops and an Aussie one combine to produce a zingy and refreshing beer.
4%, £117.49/30l keg, Fuller’s
West coast IPA, rye IPA
In three words: ‘Chilled, dry, worldly’
Definitely not to be confused with Belgian brut beers, which emerged in the past decade and are very solemn and serious. I am an easy-going, laid-back kind of IPA, the latest and most stylish member of the family, having made my debut in San Francisco when a brewer added some amylase enzymes to his mash and the result was a bone-dry IPA. Never call me a champagne IPA though, as the French would soon be in touch. I’m also easy on the eye, being clearer than the hazy New England IPA. I let the hops shine and when it comes to the finish I go as dry as Jack Dee in stand-up mode.
Lily Shareglass - Aka 'The Trendsetter'
In three words: ‘Experience, consume, post’ I’m always on the lookout for what’s different on the bar, especially when it comes to IPAs. In fact, I am the same with food: as soon as someone mentions a new cuisine from a new country, I’m immediately
drawn to it. I have to eat it and possess all the cookbooks about it. So, when I heard about this clear and bright-eyed IPA with a dry finish reminiscent of the best bubbly, I went out hunting for it as soon as I could. I wasn’t disappointed and neither was my Untapped account... if it ain’t shared, it doesn’t exist.
Curious Brewery/Beavertown Curiouser & Curiouser Chapter 4 Bacchus Brut IPA
Brut-style IPA with added grape juice. The fourth in Curious Brewery’s collaborative series.
6.5%, £97/20l keg, Beavertown
Siren Cuvée Brut IPA
Siren’s third brut IPA; alongside the hops it has spent time in oak, with tannins contributing to its dryness.
6%, £42.95/24x33cl, Siren Craft Brew
English IPA, Belgian IPA