Tuesday, 23 July 2013

IPA you beautiful thing

A little while ago I attended the Knysna Craft Beer project which showcased a few of the smaller, specialised, GREAT South African breweries and a huge range of styles of the wonderful liquid.  In my younger days I enjoyed a beer or 2, lured by pricing and the lifestyle and image promoted by certain gigantic beer companies.  These uncomplicated, weak and chemically enhanced beer examples were just what the doctor ordered for my pathetic teenage palate.  Something to fill a gap and to 'lighten the mood'.  With age and the wisdom (?) that followed I have been drawn to the grape and beer is something I now only occasionally indulge in.  When I do I want something with a bit of backbone; a strong brew that offers real and pure malt flavours.  The Indian Pale Ale (IPA) is an example of just this and has a style that has attracted me for quite a while.  Boston Breweries, in Cape Town, makes a great IPA, and this was the definite winner for me at the Knysna Festival.

IPA has a controversial and interesting history.  One train of thought is that it was originally created, with it's increased hop and alcohol content, to make sure it didn't spoil on it's journey to the British troops in India.  Another was that the increased hops was a vital component of beer to be consumed in the warmer climates.  Back in the day beers were dark and murky things.  With better understanding and control of the malting process brewers were able to produce a more pale variety and this was something different for the consumer.  Add higher hop levels, the notion that it was a beer that should be drunk in warmer conditions and give it a name like Indian Pale Ale and you've got a winner.  Whatever it's history, it's certainly a beer that has a future.             

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