What is an IPA? Infographic

The Story behind IPA is an interesting one.  To understand IPA we first have to understand the hop, the rest will fall into place after we discuss the preservative nature of hops.  Hops are composed of two major acids.  Alpha Acid, and Beta Acid.  Alpha acid is slightly responsible for preventing bacterial growth in the beer, such as bacteria that comes from lactic acid.   Alpha acid is also responsible for adding the bitter component to beer.  The beta acid does not add initial bitterness but does aid in the fermentation and aging of the beer adding the bitter components slowly over time.  What does Alpha acid in hops have to do with IPA? Alcohol and hops(becuase of the alpha acid) preserve beer.  Alcohol provides an unfavorable environment for microbial action, and the isohumulone content of the hops inhibits the growth of bacteria such as Lactobacillus. Thus, high alcohol content, in German export beers, for example, and high hopping rate, as in India pale ale, could protect beer from the souring associated with long storage times.

This brings forth another question, why do we need to preserve the beer anyway?  The answer is simple. In the early 17th century there was beer, and a lot of it.  A  lot was in the form of Pale Ale, a term coined by the use of pale malt and back then a lot less bitter then the pale ales of today.  The actual story is quite long so I’ll simplify it for you. George Hodgson of the Bow Brewery, on the Middlesex-Essex border, was the go-to guy for the East India Trading company for all their beer needs, be it exporting or consumption for British troops stationed in India.  The East India Trading company noticed that Hodgson’s liberally hopped pale ale seemed to make the trip down around Africa a little bit better than the less hopped lower alcohol version of Pale Ale at the time.  The trading company noticed this and asked him to up the ante, he did, and the well-preserved India Pale Ale was born.  This is the most common story, however, doing a little digging I found that there may have been a little more politics in this history that we think.  It turns out that the EITC chose the Bow brewery because of its location as well as his liberal credit terms, and that his October beer and Porter were also Highly in demand in India as well, which both seemed to survive the trip, according to record, quite well.  So whats the real story? Who knows? What we do know is that hops add a lot of bitterness and help preserve the beer.  I know I like the romance of it all, additionally I love the beer and I really love making it.

Categories: Beer, Beer Infographs, Breweries, Home Brewing, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Aging Pumpkin Beer and beer in general

Still Recovering after my now famous “pumpkin day”, the day that I get all the Pumpkin Beers in my store, and then proceed to drink all of them in a row .  I decided I’d write about this while it was fresh in my brain.  Starting with the Woodchuck Fall cider I was very impressed, and in comparison to the pumpkin cider I say the Fall cider is a clear winner.  The fall cider is spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon and aged in white American Oak.  The pumpkin however was not that impressive it lacked flavor and as we know, pumpkin really doesn’t taste like anything, its the spices that make the pumpkin pie not the actual  pumpkin itself .  After the Ciders,


I Moved on to this years Dogfish Punk, Ill let Sam tell you about this one.  And I must say, again this year they have outdone themselves once again .  The spices were very well integrated , and the beer is very balanced and approachable.

Now Lets talk about the monsters, the biggest most pumpkiny beer on the market .  The Southern Tier imperial Pumking is an impressive almost feast of a beer with huge pumpkin pie spices and aromas reminiscent of thanksgiving dinner, with some perceived sweetness from the spices i think.  The beer would go perfect with some spicy cheeses, turkey dinners, and as a stand alone dessert or maybe poured over vanilla ice cream. As taken from the website “Pumking is an ode to Púca, a creature of Celtic folklore, who is both feared and respected by those who believe in it. Púca is said to waylay travelers throughout the night, tossing them on its back, and providing them the ride of their lives, from whichthey return forever changed! Brewed in the spirit of All Hallows Eve, a time of year when spirits can make contact with the physical world and when magic is most potent. Pour Pumking into a goblet and allow it’s alluring spirit to overflow. As spicy aromas present themselves, let its deep copper color entrance you as your journey into this mystical brew has just begun. As the first drops touch your tongue a magical spell will bewitch your taste buds making it difficult to escape. This beer is brewed with pagan spirit yet should be enjoyed responsibly.”

8.6% abv • 12.7ºL • Imperial Pumpkin Ale • 22 oz

Tasting them both side by side presented some interesting things.  One, which is clear by the picture is color difference last years had lost some color over the past year (beer on left), and surprising enough last years beer was 9.0% abv where this years in 8.6%abv.  Slight oxidation notes and some developed nutty and maraschino on the year old version, in addition brandy and port like aromas had developed.  If you get a chance this is a must do. Lets talk about why you should age beer

Start with a high ABV (8% minimum) that is on the malty/sweet side (just like Pumking). The higher alcohol and lower hops content makes these beers less susceptible to funky smells and taste. Another thing that helps elude the curse is storing the beer at the proper temperature.You to keep the beer in the dark at constant cellar temperatures, 50° – 60° F.  Spiking and dropping temperatures will spoil your beer, as does exposure to light, which breaks down a chemical in the hops into a chemical found in skunk spray. If you’ve ever had “skunky” beer, chances are it was exposed to light for too long or “lightstruck.” If you have a cellar or basement that maintains a fairly constant temperature, you’ve got it made. Otherwise, you’ll need to invest in a cellaring refrigerator or convert a fridge to operate at cellar temperatures. Which we had stored the pumpkin in a wine fridge at 55 degrees in the dark for the whole year.  trust me aging your beer is worth it

Categories: Beer, Breweries, Home Brewing, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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