This year, on Thursday 2nd of August, craft beer fans/geeks/tragics united to celebrate a beer style that is at the core of craft beer movement; the great India Pale Ale. With copious amounts of hops and equally big malt profiles, IPA’s push the boundaries of what a beer can be, and have converted many a soul from macro-lager swilling lout to self-proclaimed ale connoisseur. I know I wouldn’t have taken such an interest in my quest for the epic 1001 beers if it wasn’t for an encounter with an amazing IPA on the deck of the Monk hotel in Fremantle in May last year. I tried it because it was beer number 40 on the list, and its complex aromas and flavours left me wanting to try more of these big beers known as IPA’s. The amazing IPA that I speak of hails from the Green Flash Brewing Co. In San Diego – the West coast IPA. To celebrate the 2012 IPA Day, I revisited the ale that turned me into an official hop head, and compared it to my experience on that day back in 2011.
My experience on 25/5/2011
I was so impressed by this beer, that it was the first one that I ever wrote “drinking notes” about. Here are my thoughts from that night (note: this was fresh off tap):
West Coast IPA by Green flash (one more off the list!) Sitting at the Monk brew pub. The venue is setting me up for a good afternoon, sitting in the cool air on Freo’s south terrace with Jack Johnson playing…very West Coast. The first thing I notice about the beer is the colour…if I didn’t know better I’d think I was looking at a glass of honey. It’s so dense, and there’s no visible carbonation, it even looks like its crystallized! The head adds to this illusion, with a dirty orange hue similar to the crystals on the top of old HONEY (a pattern) and it’s very thick, like its protecting you from certain doom…anyway, the first smell I get is passionfruit, not your typical ‘I detect a hint of passionfruit in this ale’ more ‘am I drinking sorbet’. Very strong. I’m hesitant to take my first sip; I think I’m in for a world of pain. And I’m right, sort of. The bitterness in this IPA doesn’t sneak up on you; it shouts right in your face a statement of ‘are you hard enough to keep going!’ I decide that I am…and I’m so glad that I do. While other IPA’s I’ve tried start a little aggressive and end up smashing your tounge against the concrete at the end, this seems to have the opposite effect. The more I drink, the easier it gets, the more I notice the sweeter tropical flavors. Or maybe my tastebuds are broken…7.3%
IPA Day, 2/8/2012
I’d been saving a bottle in my fridge just for this day. Tropical aromas explode from the bottle when it’s opened, and memories of just how good this beer is come flooding back. A thick pillowy head tops off a golden body. In the glass it smells of pine and musk sticks. The taste has a creamy caramel quality from the malt, before the bitterness makes itself heard. It dances that line between pleasure and pain, stumbling further towards the side of pleasure. It’s weird; the bitterness pretty much melts the tongue, but in an oddly pleasant way (I swear I’m not a sadist…) Then you smell the musk sticks and it draws you in for more. The bitterness softens towards the end, allowing the caramel malt to mix with the tropical pineapple and grapefruit flavours.
To all those out there who have enjoyed their favourite India Pale Ale on IPA Day, I toast to you! To anyone that may be reading this who has never experienced the goodness that is IPA, do yourself a favour and try one right now!! It’ll change the way you look at beer forever.