Your guide to IPA's including food pairings and a history of the beer style.
The IPA is currently a popular beer style and has rapidly risen in popularity over the last 15 years. Although it is not a new beer, far from it, IPA actually dates back to the 1780s! This is from when the British wanted to brew their own beer in India but found that the conditions were much too hot to do so. So, realising they’d have to import their beloved beer, they found a way around this. By adding a vast number of hops to the brew and increasing the alcohol levels, which acted as a preservative, the beer managed to survive the huge six-month journey across the sea.
This original IPA recipe was gradually refined, into a lighter and paler version of the brew. This new balance and flavour perfectly complemented the sweltering Indian climate and was a refreshing change from the dark porter the army was first stuck with. But just as fashions come and go in the clothing world, the same thing happens within the brewing industry, and unfortunately, these beers sadly died out in popularity.
But in the 1970s, some curious American craft brewers brought back the style, creating their own unique version of IPA in the process. Adding bigger, punchier flavours, compared to the original recipe, these brewers created a new strand of IPA, which was imaginatively titled American IPA. This style is more synonymous with what most people know and love today and is what most craft breweries are now currently producing, as mass-market taste buds have embraced these bolder flavours.
However, there continues to be further developments in this area, as people look to push the boundaries in search of new flavours. DIPAs and SIPAs, or Double IPAs and Session IPAs, are gaining in popularity. Double IPA’s generally have a stronger taste due to the larger amounts of malt added, and as a rule of thumb, anything over 7% is considered a DIPA. Whilst session IPA’s contain the same great hoppy flavour of a regular IPA, but have a lower alcohol percentage compared to the standard version, meaning that you can comfortably sip away a SIPA without the fear of a high ABV percentage looming over you.
There are numerous other IPA styles, Coffee, Eclectic, Fruit, Coffee, West Coast, Wood-Aged, Wheat and far too many more to name! With an ever-growing array of styles and flavours to choose from, it’s an exciting time for IPAs, and it’s the drinkers who are benefitting from these exciting flavour developments.
Claire Cannell, food and beer matching expert at Everards, talks through the best food pairings for IPA’s, along with an in-depth look into our two new limited-edition beers.
When it comes to food pairings there are three principles which are cut, complement and contrast. One thing to keep at the forefront of your mind when it comes to pairing IPAs with food is how bitter they are as a higher IBU (International Bitterness Unit) can seem challenging to pair.
A typical IPA pairing is a curry. A strong hoppy IPA, and the sharp citric character of the beer cut through a spicy Indian curry. But for a more complementing flavour, try a pint alongside a Thai green curry, as the flavour in the hops will complement the lemongrass and coriander in the dish.