English IPA Tasting

A big element of brewing all of these new styles will be becoming familiar with them as well. In the case of English IPA I’ve maybe only tried a handful in the last few years. With that in mind, I acquired the four English IPAs I could find at the local beer spot this evening. Research. Purely research my dear Watson.

BrewDog Old World IPA: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/16315/76026

Wow. A lot of biscuit with a little toast in the nose. Lingering caramel toffee note that’s rattling around on my taste buds long after the last sip. I could definitely see trying to caramelize some of the wort and/or using some of the bigger crystal malts to try and achieve these flavors. Might be getting a little fruit and spice from the hops. For an American hop head like myself, I’m more accustomed to my hops being served up unabated. Although as it warms and my defenses to this malty assault rise, I can pick out a little more of the floral elements.

My favorite comment comes from JayQue on BeerAdvocate: “A nice take on the style. Hardly a session beer based on the abv, but I am in the process of drinking the whole bottle, and it is going down very easy.”

This appears to be an attempt at re-creating the original India Pale Ales meant to withstand long voyages, so I’m curious to see how the others compare. It probably wasn’t ideal to drink it first at 7.5% in bomber form, but it was the only one that was cold at the store.

BeerAdvocate score: 84pts

I gave it 4/5 on Untappd.

Meantime India Pale Ale: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/5062/25231

A LOT less toasty malt than Old World. It appears to have arrived on 3/6 and sat on the shelf at room temp for the last 4 months, so if anything I’d expect bigger malt flavors. This is a pretty pleasant & mellow easy drinker. I’d read some talk of using sugars up to 10% (like many Belgians do) and it seemed off base. That is until I experienced the lighter body of Meantime.

A fresher example might give me a better idea of why it’s the 5th highest rated English IPA on BeerAdvocate. Picking up a little fruit. My stuffed up nose sure isn’t helping. I’m amazed that this and Old World are both 7.5%. Old World has a ton more backbone.

The Brewing Network has a Can You Brew It episode on cloning this beer. I might have to give it a shot, just to see what a fresher example can be like: http://thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/727

BeerAdvocate score: 89

I gave it 3/5 on Untappd.

Samuel Smith’s India Ale: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/113/573

Nothing on the bottle to indicate age. Was also out warm at the store. At 5% I find this to be a totally different animal. It’s got a little backbone and some English floral hop character, but compared to the last two beers it’s hard to believe it should occupy the same category. I’d believe it was brewed in India. But not stronger and hoppier to be sent to India.

Had it in the freezer to cool quickly, so I’ll let it warm up a little. As it warms I get a little more malt character and a little more hop, but it’s a fairly mediocre experience for me. If Samuel Smith’s had a party in town and the India Ale was free all night, I’d only go if everybody else wanted to.

BeerAdvocate score: 84

I gave it 3/5 on Untappd.

Flying Fish HopFish IPA: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/339/21538

Alright, we let the foreigners brew their beer. Let’s see what New Jersey has to offer. Woah! Right off the bat floral hops in my stuffy nose. Columbus is my first guess as far as the hop mix. 6.7% and a very nice citrusy floral beer. Not getting a heck of a lot of English style backbone though.

Looked at their website: http://flyingfish.com/beers/hopfish_ipa.html

A couple things strike me as odd. First is that I think this IPA is mis-categorized on BeerAdvocate (and at my local Total Wine). It’s made with Chico yeast aka White Labs 001 American Ale. It’s all American hops. I am impressed they dry hopped with Nugget and got such a floral character. My Nugget hops have always been pretty spicy with little floral. Also, the 25.3 IBUs (International Bitterness Units) seem awfully low. The range for English IPA is 40-60 IBU according to BeerSmith. It appears to be labeled an American IPA on Untappd upon further review. That IBU number still can’t be right. Regardless, a fairly pleasant beer. I could be stuck with a sixer of much worse.

My favorite BeerAdvocate comment comes from azdback: “Overall I didn’t really like this, but that is because I really don’t like English Style anything. The choice of malts and hops are spot on for the style but really not my choice to enjoy. I will score this with the style in mind though and if English IPA’s are your thing, this might be worth searching out.”

I could not disagree more with my fellow desert dweller. Besides the English crystal malt there is NOTHING English about this beer…other than maybe the lower bitterness that would be too low for the English as well.

BeerAdvocate score: 82 (shockingly as it is wildly not an English IPA)

I gave it 3/5 on Untappd.

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