What makes an IPA an IPA?

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WhoDey78

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What makes an IPA an IPA? Is it simply the bitterness level, or is it more complicated than that?
 

Vance71975

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What makes an IPA an IPA? Is it simply the bitterness level, or is it more complicated than that?

Well historically speaking what made an IPA an IPA was a few factors.

I was a Pale Ale that was brewed to a much high ABV to survive a long ship ride from England to India without spoilage, I was also much higher hopped than a standard pale ale, and historically, it was aged in Wood Barrels on the ship ride to India.
 

kbuzz

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Dry-hopping!

They dry-hopped the crap out of those shipments since hops are a natural preservative.
 

Southernmost11

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Just entered our latest IPA recipe into the Key West Brew Fest (this Labor Day). It is the Wood's Wall, NE 15-20, Voyage Strength IPA.

Until we got central AC the only thing we could brew in KW was IPA because of the high daily temp fluctuations.
 

rico567

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Glad you like it. Keep it handy, if you plan on entering more compilations the BJCP guidelines should be what is used to judge you entry(s).
Just expect those "guidelines" to be pretty loose when you open a bottle, order a pint, or taste someone else's beer. I've tasted pale ales that were significantly hoppier than someone else's IPA.
 

unionrdr

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That just got me to thinking,after reading some of the link. I saved those guidelines before. Good to read the IPA one,though. It seems my new APA is right in there stylistically. Just need a bit more intense hop schedule to make it an IPA. Talk about versatile...:tank:
 

jsweet

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It has to use ingredients from India, just like a Black IPA has to be pale. Right guys?
 

unionrdr

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If you buy it,maybe.Addy doesn't even give a little taste as an example. But,it was a higher ABV ale with more hops in it so it wouldn't spoil on it's way to India by wooden ship. The end.:mug::D
 

bonzombiekitty

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If you buy it,maybe.Addy doesn't even give a little taste as an example. But,it was a higher ABV ale with more hops in it so it wouldn't spoil on it's way to India by wooden ship. The end.:mug::D
However, by the time it got to India, the flavor profile was very different than what we'd call an IPA today. We drink green IPAs.
 

unionrdr

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Def not green beer. Just not aged the couple months the trip would've taken. Some of the hop profile would be faded away by the time it got there. That's why they used so much more hops. They were trying to account for that fact during transit. Not to make a richer IPA..quite the opposite in fact.
Ever notice how hop aroma/flavor starts fading at about 5 weeks? Same thing then,just compensated for.
 

bonzombiekitty

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Def not green beer. Just not aged the couple months the trip would've taken. Some of the hop profile would be faded away by the time it got there. That's why they used so much more hops. They were trying to account for that fact during transit. Not to make a richer IPA..quite the opposite in fact.
Ever notice how hop aroma/flavor starts fading at about 5 weeks? Same thing then,just compensated for.
That's why we drink green IPAs. In the modern day, we drink them quickly before the hop profile have died down. Back then, it would take several months until it got drank. Combined with the fact that the beer spent a long time on rocking boats in sometimes extreme heat, they ended up with very different flavor profile than what we consider an IPA.

Sure, the recipes may be similar (though AFAIK, we do take it to the extreme nowadays), what happens after the beer is brewed is very, very different from what happened back then, resulting in different beers.
 

unionrdr

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not different at all. Our IPA's are not "green" merely by virtue of a shorter time line. Theirs is old & faded by unavoidable time. different,yes. Better,likely not. Beer only gets better with age to a certain point,then starts going down hill.
An average gravity beer like IPA's simply will not get way better when they're several months & temp cycles away from what "we" drink. That's proceeding from the false assumption that older is always better.
 

bonzombiekitty

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not different at all. Our IPA's are not "green" merely by virtue of a shorter time line. Theirs is old & faded by unavoidable time. different,yes. Better,likely not. Beer only gets better with age to a certain point,then starts going down hill.
An average gravity beer like IPA's simply will not get way better when they're several months & temp cycles away from what "we" drink. That's proceeding from the false assumption that older is always better.
I guess it depends on how you define "green" then. Since "better" is subjective, I always known it as a given recipe not having aged long enough to meet a given flavor profile. The flavor profile of an IPA was very different back then compared to the flavor profile today largely by virtue of the length of time between when it was brewed and when it was consumed (the conditions of the trip also changed the profile). Thus, modern IPAs are "green".
 

unionrdr

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I guess it depends on how you define "green" then. Since "better" is subjective, I always known it as a given recipe not having aged long enough to meet a given flavor profile. The flavor profile of an IPA was very different back then compared to the flavor profile today largely by virtue of the length of time between when it was brewed and when it was consumed. Thus, modern IPAs are "green".
Imo,higher alcohol does not a high gravity beer make. The body of the beer should be heavy as well,not just the ABV. Most beers used more hops back then. but only because travel/shipping took longer. They didn't make sure their ales were 6 months old by the time they're drunk. That's what I mean to convey. So you're really just repeating some of the things I said in diff terms.
So,as I said,they did more ABV & hops just to make it more shippable. That's it,period. Ours isn't green,hell my ales take 2 months to be good. Theirs are just older,nearly out dated brews by the time slow poke travel got them there. Not as much carbonation,either. So,in some ways,ours are actually better. AS I said before,older (aged in this case) isn't always better.
 

bonzombiekitty

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Imo,higher alcohol does not a high gravity beer make. The body of the beer should be heavy as well,not just the ABV. Most beers used more hops back then. but only because travel/shipping took longer. They didn't make sure their ales were 6 months old by the time they're drunk.

That's what I mean to convey. So you're really just repeating some of the things I said in diff terms.

Perhaps, but again, compared to the end product of an IPA back then, modern day IPAs are green by virtue of there having been several months between production and consumption by necessity back then.

So,as I said,they did more ABV & hops just to make it more shippable.
Which seems to be a myth, at least when it comes to shipment to India.

That's it,period. Ours isn't green,hell my ales take 2 months to be good. Theirs are just older,nearly out dated brews by the time slow poke travel got them there. Not as much carbonation,either. So,in some ways,ours are actually better. AS I said before,older (aged in this case) isn't always better.
I think we're just using very different terms for "green". Again, I am using the term "green" as a comparison to what we consume today to what was consumed in India at the time. We have similar recipes and flavor profiles at end of the brewing process (which is likely debatable, but let's just say they are) - the trip to India added a long aging period to the beer. So if we use what was consumed in India at the time, modern IPAs are green at the point of consumption.

I'm not arguing that IPAs back then were better (since that is subjective), just very different than what we would think of as an IPA.
 

Zixxer10R

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Just entered our latest IPA recipe into the Key West Brew Fest (this Labor Day). It is the Wood's Wall, NE 15-20, Voyage Strength IPA.

Until we got central AC the only thing we could brew in KW was IPA because of the high daily temp fluctuations.
If the recipe isn't a closely guarded family secret, would you care to share? I want to try other people's award winning brews.
 

unionrdr

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It's not a myth,read the other post on this subject with the link. It tells you what the book will if you pay for it. Trust me.
On the other points,you're just not reading what I'm saying. Not to mention,mixing my meanings with your words over the course of this conversation. Historical data says what I related. Ales are not barley wines. They don't need long to mature.
 

bonzombiekitty

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On the other points,you're just not reading what I'm saying. Not to mention,mixing my meanings with your words over the course of this conversation. Historical data says what I related.


I'm not arguing that the historical data is different than what you have said. You brought up alcohol, gravity, etc. All I mentioned was aging.

Ales are not barley wines. They don't need long to mature.
But I am not saying that ales need to mature. I'm not saying anything about anything needing to mature. I'm talking about what did mature. I think we're on two entirely different pages here.

As far as I can tell, we can agree on the following:

- Modern recipes for brewing IPAs are similar to IPAs of old (minus the extremes of today). What comes out of the brewery isn't all that much different today compared to back then.*
- The shipment from the UK to India took several months.
- The result of shipping meant the ale that arrived in India had aged significantly (according to the link I posted earlier, it was the equivalent of two years in a cave). Resulting in a different flavor profile. You say this was likely a negative, but I'm not prepared to agree on that point.
- Modern IPAs are consumed relatively quickly (very quickly for most commercial beers), and have not aged

Can we agree on those points, or am I missing something?

If we can agree on those, I was simply asserting the last two points. The ale that ended up in India had aged, the ale we consume now is not aged nearly to the same extent. So the flavors are very different. At the very least, the hop flavor in the beers consumed in India had decreased a good degree.

I've always understood green to mean not having aged long enough to meet a given flavor profile. As such, if the target profile is what was consumed in India, then modern IPAs are green.

ETA:
* This is where the confusion may be. When you say they added more hops and such, I considered you to be referring to a comparison to what was brewed at the time. However, you may mean in comparison to modern day. If so, I have never heard that before.
 

unionrdr

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I've seen history channel videos that mentioned how much more hops were used,say,in Victorian times compared to now. I forget the % of difference. This has to have been do to travel times being what they were before the trucks,plains,trains,etc of today shortening those times. Besides the advent of refrigeration in the late 1800's.
And I said they matured more than today do to travel times added onto the normal process times of the day. So it could be rather loosely defined as green. But not in the literal sense. We can deliver faster today compared to then. Thus their IPA's being more matured,to the point of some of that "extra"hop profile fading. I believe,to the point of being more like what they intended if you could get it at a pub closer to the source.
Which could be a negative,depending on temps & other mitigating factors. So it's not like the IPA's today don't age enough,it's more like they no longer need to. So,I've been saying they did mature more than would normally be the case,do to travel being what it was then. We just don't need to take that long anymore. Not to mention,what India Pale Ale is supposed to be,is one where the malt profile is still evident. Unlike the 100 kiloton hop bombs of today.:drunk:
 

bonzombiekitty

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I've seen history channel videos that mentioned how much more hops were used,say,in Victorian times compared to now. I forget the % of difference. This has to have been do to travel times being what they were before the trucks,plains,trains,etc of today shortening those times. Besides the advent of refrigeration in the late 1800's.
And I said they matured more than today do to travel times added onto the normal process times of the day. So it could be rather loosely defined as green. But not in the literal sense. We can deliver faster today compared to then. Thus their IPA's being more matured,to the point of some of that "extra"hop profile fading. I believe,to the point of being more like what they intended if you could get it at a pub closer to the source.
Which could be a negative,depending on temps & other mitigating factors. So it's not like the IPA's today don't age enough,it's more like they no longer need to. So,I've been saying they did mature more than would normally be the case,do to travel being what it was then. We just don't need to take that long anymore. Not to mention,what India Pale Ale is supposed to be,is one where the malt profile is still evident. Unlike the 100 kiloton hop bombs of today.:drunk:
Yeah, so we are essentially saying the same thing - just bickering over the use of the word "green" :D. Even though we put way more hops in an IPA than originally used (IIRC, that's discussed somewhere in the first few chapters of Hops & Glory).
 

unionrdr

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Yeah,that's it in a nutshell,when you come down to it I guess. You ever have one of those funky days when you know what you want to say,but the words just don't flow? I can't remember which history channel video mentioned comparative amounts of hops. But it's on youtrub.
 

MrAverage

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Actually ....

If you go to this blog http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/ and poke around a bit, you'll find that based on the actual brewing records of actual British brewers, thec onventional wisdom about what makes an IPA an IPA is pretty much wrong.

In reference to a 1928 IPA recipe from Barclay Perkins :

Brewers in London and the Southeast often made beers called IPA. As a rule, these beers were weaker than the brewery's PA. Many of the IPA's were, like this one, specifically bottled beers. I can only think of one that still survives: Harvey's IPA. Where was I? Ah yes, IPA weaker than PA. Barclay Perkins PA had an OG of 1053º. A good bit higher than the 1046º of this baby.

The origins of these IPAs was the end of the 19th century. Whitbread introduced theirs in 1899. It was 1051º to their PA's 1058º. By the 1920's, that had dropped to 1036º and 1046º. As I'm sure you've noticed, Whitbread's versions were a good bit weaker than Barclay Perkins.

This is a very early version of Barclay Perkins IPA. It first appeared in 1927, replacing XLK (bottling). That was a bottled version of their Ordinary Bitter.At only 1038º, it was a pretty puny beer.


The recipe, derrived from the actual brewing logs, is at http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/2010/11/lets-brew-wednesday-1928-barclay_18.html

also: Whitbread started brewing IPA around 1900. With a gravity of 1050, it was the weakest beer in their lineup. By the 1920's, it was just 1037. It remained at that strength until 1941, when something weird happened. They made a few much stronger brews with almost double the OG of the normal version. What were they up to?

from http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/2009/10/lets-brew-wednesday-1941-whitbread.html

also see this for a 1917 Whitbread IPA : http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/2009/04/lets-brew-wednesday-whitbread-1917-ipa.html

It seems that British brewers defined "IPA" very differently from the BJCP guidelines and the conventional wisdom (inherited mythology?). It is certianly true that a British IPA of the late 19th /early 20th century was far different from the American IPA's brewed today.

Your question needs to be rephrased. Do you want to know what makes an IPA as defined by the BJCP guidelines? Or do you want to know how traditional British brewers defined it?
 

unionrdr

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ok,that sounds familiar. I brew my PA/APA to 1.044-1.050. 4.8%-5.33% ABV. I've been playing around with ones that have good flavors,decent ABV,head,carbonation. But not big alcohol #'s. I just don't think it's as conducive to the enjoyment of the ale. Anyway,here's a link to British beers that I have;http://www.europeanbeerguide.net/beerale.htm#barclaygrist
India ales are a little ways down the list. You'll have to figure out the terminology used at the time.
 
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