America is without doubt the home of the IPA, well perhaps its adopted home after a birth in England (although don’t get me started about the misunderstanding of the birth of the IPA, if you want the real story check this out) .
America of course has put its own take on the IPA, like all things American it’s bigger and more aggressive than the old school English version. I believe the new age term for it is that they are hop forward, meaning they are dominated by the hops.
The two brews we look at today are reputed to be some of the best examples available in Australia. In truth THE best examples aren’t exported to Australia for two reasons; the brewers will claim that the beers cannot make it here at an acceptable quality level due to the length of shipping and the (generally unrefrigerated) distribution systems in Australia. I imagine the real reason is why bother exporting beer to a tiny market down under when you can sell your entire stock within about 100 miles of the brewery.
First up is the brand new to our shores Greenflash West Coast IPA which is very American in its approach, which means it’s quite aggressive and leaves a lingering bitterness in the cheeks, having said that it hides its high alcohol level (7.3%) nicely. There are two distinct experiences here, the sweetness which is evidenced in the body and the start of the sip, and then a fruity bitterness that comes along in the mid-sip to take that away.
If you like American IPAs (and I have to say increasingly I prefer the Australia/NZ gentler, more fruity style) then this one is a corker – Pint.
The second brew which is Bear Republic’s Racer 5 is a different approach to the same style. It really puts the ale back into Indian Pale Ale, it’s bottle conditioned and is thus hazy with yeast suspended in it and has far less carbonation that most IPAs doing the rounds. This makes it feel less aggressive than the Greenflash, with the maltiness of the body given more room to show itself which also results in the fruitiness of the hops seeming a little sweeter too. Another brilliant beer – Pint.
If you want to understand why hop heads are so passionate then you could do worse than trying these two brews from California.
Long Tube You Tube Clip: I wish they all could be Californian