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My Blood Type Is Now IPA+

Thursday, January 21, 2021

What is an IPA? The initials stand for India Pale Ale. I never knew about the world of IPAs until I started seeing them pop up locally. Having German friends also helps… thanks, Andreas! My curiosity about this unique craft led me to discover that this pale ale was born in the 1700s because live beer could not survive the gruelling six-month journey by sea from Britain to India intact — hence the name India Pale Ale.

Henry Jeffreys, a drinks writer based in London, writes that in the 1780s, a London brewer named Hodgson answered the call by sending out a strong, heavily hopped beer, October ale, that would normally be aged like wine before drinking. The beer from Hodgson's Bow Brewery not only survived the journey but was found to have improved immeasurably. This was the prototype IPA; the beer gradually became paler and more refreshing to suit the Indian climate. Circa 1976, Americans actually revived proper IPAs — which had begun to die out — packing them full of alcohol and hops. Ironically, this was then copied by brewers in Britain! What goes around comes back around!

What I have come to learn so far about IPAs is they are a style of beer! Hops act like yeast in wine, in that they impart a very distinct flavour when you are hopping the beer. IPAs tend to be on the bitter side and can possess floral and citrusy aromas.

Based on my research here are some IPAs that I have come across, beginning with our local hero @Troublesbrew and their Hop Steppa IPA. I managed to catch up with Christian Sale, founder and head brewer of Trouble's Brewing, between production runs to learn more about this much sought-after and highly regarded Jamaican IPA.


Christian Sale:

“I never liked my first IPA. Having always been interested in beer I was intrigued by a tap handle at a bar in the Miami airport. I tried it and couldn't finish. When I realised that I could actually brew my own beer I went down the rabbit hole of research. Books, the Internet, podcasts, and web radio shows led me to realise that a lot of IPAs in the USA, up until the early 2010s, were in a race to claim which was the most bitter or which had the most hops. Finally, that trend was on the decline and the common word being thrown out was 'balance'.

“We brew the beers we want to drink. My first event was Oktoberfest Kingston in 2019. We brought everything we could possibly brew (an Oktoberfest and a German wheat-style beer) and it was all finished halfway through the event. I was blown away at the feedback and encouragement.

“December of 2019 brought a pop-up event at Chilitos, which I am a big fan of. One of the owners and I had been talking about beer for a while, and we specifically talked about an IPA. At that point, I had been able to try more IPAs during my travels for my job at the time, and came to understand and appreciate the style and the possibilities.

“There is so much diversity in beer, so there's no reason Jamaica couldn't have an IPA of its own. After two test batches and tweaks of the recipe that I dreamed up — with some guidance and research — I wanted it to be unique. I am very happy with where we are at with the Hop Steppa recipe. December 19, 2019 was the pop-up event at Chilitos. The recipe was tweaked a little more still for that iteration and we were again amazed at the reception. The recipe features three different hops, and an incredibly simple malt bill. Small changes to the hop schedule and amounts continue to be made in the aim of perfection. Tasting Note: A west coast-style IPA featuring stone fruit, citrus, and tropical notes accompanied by a moderate bitterness, derived from Columbus, Citra and Sorachi Ace hops.” Alcohol Content: 6.7%

Get into trouble and grab a bottle of the Hop Steppa IPA at Chilitos, Uncorked and Uncorked Too; Butcher Block and on tap at Ragamuffin Café.


Exploring other IPAs available in Jamaica

I've been cruising the supermarket aisles to see what's available and have discovered that there are cool indie labels that have popped up at Loshusan supermarket. You can find these options in the aisles beside the wine section — you will also find some of the ciders I mentioned in last week's article here. Available at Loshusan: Brewdog Punk IPA, Shepherd Neame & Co India Pale Ale, and Greene King IPA.


Brewdog Punk IPA @: Brewdog is a multinational brewery and pub chain based in Ellon, Scotland. Est in 2007, Brewdog was started by friends Martin and James, who are passionate about great craft beer and were on a mission to spread the craft beer gospel. Both were both 24 years old at the time — #goodfrenbettadanpocketmoney.

Fun Fact: In 2018 this duo opened the world's first craft beer hotel — The Doghouse Hotel & Brewery — in Columbus, Ohio. Over a decade ago there was a beer revolution kick-started by Punk IPA, where a light and golden classic met new world hops creating a flavour explosion. No preservatives. No chemicals. No cheap substitutes. This IPA is listed as one of the company's “Headliners” and is described as a postmodern classic. Tasting note: Light gold with aromas and flavours of grapefruit, pineapple and lychee. Sweet malt and bitter hops on the palate lead to a medium-bodied and flavourful finish. Alcohol content: 5.6%.


Shepherd Neame & Co India Pale Ale @shepherdneame: Dubbed Britain's oldest brewer Shepherd Neame it has been brewing since 1698. Shepherd Neame remains an independent family business. Its mission is to be a great British brewer and run the best pubs! I like! This modern incarnation retains strength, body and a strong hop character which is synonymous with this beer's provenance. This IPA delivers potent bitterness, offset with generous amounts of pale ale malt to deliver a balanced, yet uncompromising, brew. Tasting note: A deep golden ale, with spiced fruit notes and a distinctive, heavily hopped bitterness. Food pairing: Strong cheddars and Stilton. Alcohol content: 6.1%.


Greene King IPA @greenekingbrewery: In Greene King IPA we trust! This beer, est in 1799, is the flagship beer of Greene King and was born and brewed in Bury St Edmunds. The roots set down by Benjamin Greene and Frederick King are embedded in the way the beer is made today! It's known as the pint people trust and recommend to friends. This IPA is easy drinking with a hoppy taste and aroma making it clean, crisp and moreish. It contains 100% English natural hops giving it the clean and crisp taste. This IPA is also the official beer of England cricket. Alcohol content: 3.6%


Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA is available at CPJ Market @dogfishhead: Food & Wine hails this beer as “One of the most important American craft beers ever brewed.” Continual hopping provides a beautiful balance to this IPA — allowing Sam to add a foolhardy amount of hops throughout the boil without making 90 Minute crushingly bitter. Aroma and mouthfeel: Rich pine and fruity citrus hop aromas with a strong malt backbone. 90 Minute IPA created a pungent, unapologetic flavour that led Esquire to call it “perhaps the best IPA in America.” Food Pairing: Pork chops, beef, grilled fish, frites, focaccia, split-pea soup, escargots. Flavour: Brandied fruitcake, raisiney, citrusy. Alcohol content: 9%.


Let's lift your spirits! Find me on Instagram @raihndrops and tag me!#savourresponsibly and enjoy!