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Up Up IPA and Beyond!

We’ve talked here before (IPA All Day: What is Old is New Again, December 2020), about the IPA (sometimes called India Pale Ale) and how it grew out of the British Pale Ale in the late 1700s, and was the only version for over 200 years.

The American (sometimes called West Coast) IPA arrived with the growth of craft brewing and the evolution of hop farming in the American northwest in the late twentieth century. This became the dominant IPA style until the creation of the New England IPA in the early 2010s. Now, almost every brewery in North America has at least an American and/or a NEIPA on their menu.

Nonetheless, craft brewers continue exploring what other variants they can create. As the number of hop varieties keep growing, with new breeds not only being developed in the US, but also in Australia, New Zealand, and even Canada, brewers are given more opportunities to showcase them in various kinds of IPAs. This has resulted in the double and triple IPAs (with higher ABVs), and IPAs in different colours or made with a variety of grains and yeasts.

Just when you thought there wasn’t much more you could do with this category, along comes Phantasm, lupulin powder, hop extracts, and lupulin-enriched products. Phantasm is a powder made from Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc grape skins that helps intensify fruit flavours and aromas. Lupilin powder is a concentrated form of the hop flower; an extraction that omits unwanted parts of the plant in order to not only enhance flavour and aroma, but also helps to minimize off-flavours. Hop extract contains the resins and oils from the plant and can provide bitterness and characteristics inherent to the hop variety. Lastly, lupulin-enriched products are hop pellets that contain more lupulin material than green matter, which is the leafy part of the cone. This product goes by many names, but the most popular in this area is Cryo Hops, trademarked by Yakima Chief Hops.

Brewers have also experimented with adding hops at different stages of the brewing process, in order to get a different character from the hop. Dry hopping (or double dry hopping) involves adding the hops after fermentation. These and other methods allow the brewer to use the hop for bitterness, flavour, aroma, or any combination of all three.

All of these recent developments have increased the variety in the IPA category, and as this century’s most popular beer, it shows no sign of slowing down. Here of some of the hundreds of newer IPAs available in Alberta, noting that many more are available seasonally or at taprooms only.

Double IPA - debuting out of West Coast breweries in the 1990s, it boosted both the IBUs and ABV of the American IPA.

Blindman New Zealand Double IPA, 891151

Alley Kat Dragon Series, 829602

Last Best Tokyo Drift Turbocharged IPA, 841208

Of course, brewers continue to up the ante, leading to:

Triple IPA - Flying Monkeys Sparklepuff, 10.2 percent ABV, 820080

Quadruple IPA - Flying Monkeys Space Age Sunshine, 11.6% ABV, 865881

Double/Imperial NEIPA - as with the American IPA, brewers take the original concept and increase the bitterness and alcohol.

Medicine Hat Brewery and Valley Brewery Reaper of Death 4.0, 890096

Dry Hopped IPA - dry hopping is a popular method to showcase the particular qualities of a hop with less bitterness.

Prairie Dog Tail Twitcher, 877491

Sour IPA/NEIPA - a fusion of two styles: a bacteria infected mixed-fermentation beer with copious amount of dry hopping. The name says it all.

Town Square 2D Sour NEIPA, 819458

Dandy Fly By Sight Sour IPA, 867393

White IPA - another hybrid beer, made by hopping up a Belgian Wit. Spicy and citrusy with a subtle bitterness.

Trolley Five First Crush, 890226

Township 24 Highwater, 888062

Brut IPA - the lightest in body and colour of all IPAs, with less bitterness.

Evil Corporation Brutality Brut IPA, 881278

Cold IPA - an IPA brewed with lager yeast at a cooler temperature, resulting in a lager type mouthfeel and finish.

Prairie Dog Crispy Gurl, 877202

Session IPA (ISA) - an attempt to counterbalance the high alcohol versions of IPAs by maintaining the flavour profile with usually less than 5 percent ABV.

Analog Ready Paler Two, 4.5% ABV, 835472

Grizzly Paw Rundlestone Easy IPA, 3.9% ABV, 780014

Fruit and Vegetable IPA - because hops can produce a cornucopia of flavour profiles, IPAs with added fruits or vegetables are few and far between, with brewers usually letting the hops speak for themselves.

Alley Kat Fruit-Hopia Tropical IPA (pineapple, pomegranate, raspberry), 883695

Born Alpenglow (cantaloupe), 889723

Hard Knox Burning Fuse (pineapple, jalapeño), 815732

Milkshake IPA - if fruit is included in an IPA, lactose usually follows, creating beers that attempt to emulate the mouthfeel of a good old-fashioned milkshake.

Analog In Another Castle (peach, mango), 806894

Town Square Brain Freeze (orange), 822248

Black or Dark IPA - by using roasted or chocolate malt in the mash, it not only darkens the colour, but also contributes an extra flavour nuance to the final product.

Blindman Cascadian Dark Ale, 844404

Sawback India Dark Ale, 815641

Barrel Aged IPA - barrel aging anything is now popular, so why not IPAs? It exposes a new depth of flavour that is surprisingly noticeable even in a heavily hopped beer.

Grizzly Paw El Caballero Tequila Barrelled Aged IPA, 867665

Zero Issue Fangorn Bourbon Barrel Red Rye IPA, 870067

All products above are around $17-$22 per pack or $5-$8 per single can, brewed in Alberta (except for Flying Monkey; Ontario), and are currently available. Explore the wide variety of IPAs available and you will be surprised at how diverse they are.


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