It mightn’t be everyone’s cup of tea — or pint of beer — but the influx of IPAs flooding the Australian market means the bitter brew is sure to be the beer du jour this summer.
IPAs have dominated the United States’ craft beer scene for the past five years, cornering a mammoth quarter of the market, but the intense, hoppy flavour has never really caught on in Australia . . . until now.
India Pale Ale owes its name — and bitter taste — to British brewers in the 19th Century loading their product with hops to stave off bacteria on the long, hot, unrefrigerated journey to the colonies. These days, a huge variety of modern hops can add lighter notes of fruit, citrus and pine to your pint of IPA.
The chewy flavour and higher percentage of alcohol (and therefore higher price) explains why an Australian market that prefers lighter, easy drinking (and cheaper) beers never quite embraced the IPA — but the rise of less strong ‘Session IPAs’ has helped this style of ale find its way onto taps and shelves across Australia this summer.
Little Creatures and Mountain Goat both added IPAs to their core range in 2013 and the country’s largest craft brewer, Stone & Wood, launched an IPA-only brand, Fixation Brewing Co, 12 months ago.
An incredible 30 IPAs made the GABS Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers of the Year list in January, including two of the top three (silver medallist Hop Hog American-style IPA, then IIPA Double American-style IPA by Pirate Life with the bronze).
Lord Nelson Brewery released their Backburner IPA in November, an experimental seasonal ale to toast the 175th anniversary of Sydney’s oldest continually licensed hotel, using curaçao orange peel and coriander to add another layer to the brew.
Bentspoke Brewing Co unveiled Canberra’s biggest brewery earlier last month, and there’s no prizes for guessing their top-seller so far: the Crankshaft IPA.
Even Scotch whisky maker Glenfiddich has been swept up in the IPA craze with their Experimental Series last month, creating the world’s first ever single malt whisky finished in IPA beer casks to leave a hint of hops and citrus in the spirit.
So cheers to the taste of this summer: India Pale Ale.