There are a lot of “days” to celebrate in August: Friendship Day, International Lefthanders Day, and yes, Mosquito Day. However, out of all of them, only one sits at the top of my calendar: IPA Day. Not surprisingly, I’m looking forward to a beer “holiday.”
An IPA, or India Pale Ale, is easily one of the most cherished and sought after craft beer styles. This is not the day if your favorite beer is a nondescript yellow lager which tastes better the colder it is.
For the uninitiated, IPAs are a heavily hopped ale distinctly subtly, or not so subtly, balancing a ratio of bitterness to sweetness. The hop varieties can range from citrus to piney. Some are nuanced, and others will destroy your palate. Of course, in the nicest possible way.
While a mainstay of the craft beer explosion in the US, the IPA style dates back to 18th century England. Lightly roasted malty ales, or pale ales, were heavily hopped to make their way from England to India. As my good friend, and beer expert, Josh Bernstein, writes in his book, The Complete Beer Course, the style, while not invited here, has been taken over by American brewers.
To push the point, it’s not just an “IPA.” There are West Coast IPAs, East Coast IPAs, Double IPAs, and even Triple IPAs. As Josh further opines, “A triple IPA is a palate-wrecking bomb to both your taste buds and your sobriety.” Did I mention a Triple IPA is my favorite?
I started brewing beer in the late nineties, but as time has passed, my brewing hobby has slowed down. Twenty years ago, great craft beer was hard to find. Today, I can hit a treasure trove of hop-madness only a few minutes from home, let alone the stash I keep in my beer fridge. Not only can I buy great beer, but I can also now visit two handfuls of commercial brewers here in my hometown of Dayton, Ohio. One of my favorite, Warped Wing, is a local stop for my IPA fix.
When grilling, beer, let alone an IPA, is not far from hand. It really is a grilling priority. For me, it’s not what time dinner is ready, but how many beers till dinner is ready.
If your beer choices are more sublime, don’t let the IPA moniker scare you away. I’ve found even the loudest resisters find an IPA they surprisingly enjoy. Even one of my oldest and best friends, who fueled our youngers years with a “lite” beer, is now in the only-IPA camp.
Rest assured I’ll be firing up my grill on August 3rd, and when I do, you know there will be an IPA in my hand. Cheers!