Today is International IPA Day, according to its two co-founders of the "Universal Celebration of Craft Beer": Ashley Routon —otherwise known as the Beer Wench— and Ryan Ross —marketing manager for the Karl Strauss Brewing Company.
What is an I.P.A.? It's an acronym for India Pale Ale. According to the American-based Beer Judge Certification Program —uh, that's the BJCP— an IPA is either
a decidedly hoppy and bitter, moderately strong American pale ale.
a hoppy, moderately strong pale ale that features characteristics consistent with the use of English malt, hops and yeast. Has less hop character and a more pronounced malt flavor than American versions.
Not so fast, writes British beer historian Martyn Cornell. At his blog, Zythophile, he enumerates
five IPA myths that must die on #IPADay":
Despite the best efforts of many, an amazing amount of inaccurate, made-up rubbish continues to be perpetuated about the history and origins of IPA, or India Pale Ale. All the myths below are genuine statements culled in the past few weeks from websites that claim to be experts on beer.
Crying complete cobblers’ awls and marketing fackwittery, Mr. Cornell lays waste to published claims that
- Myth 1: The original IPAs had strengths close to 8 to 9 per cent alcohol by volume.
- Myth 2: Historians believe that IPA was then watered down for the troops, while officers and the elite would savour the beer at full strength.
- Myth 3: Porters and stouts were not suitable for the torrid Indian climate.
- Myth 4: North American craft brewers more closely adhere to early IPA specifications than do British brewers who, as a group, do not.
- Myth 5: ‘East India Pale Ale’ was first brewed in England last century for the colonies East of India such as New Zealand and Australia.
Despite all that, here's how Ms. Routon and Mr. Ross suggest to observe #IPADay (and they indeed write of day with that hashtag):
1. Organize an IPA Day event at your brewery, brewpub, restaurant, bar, bottle shop, home, or office. Post your events to the CraftBeer.com Event Calendar.
2. On August 2nd, share your photos, videos, blog posts, tasting notes, recipes, and thoughts with the world. Be sure to tag your posts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and other social media platforms with #IPADay hashtag.
3. See what other people are saying on Twitter by searching “#IPADay”.
4. Become a craft beer steward in your community. Encourage non-craft beer drinkers to take a break from their normal beverage routine and join the collective toast on August 2nd.
The 'craft beer' business prides itself on romantic notions of artistry and non-conformity. Thus it's bemusing (or maybe telling) that it describes its products with so many decidedly unromantic acronyms —such as IPA, DIPA, IBU, ABV, etc.— a practice similar to that of government agencies, which are not exactly 'romantic' outposts.
So, for me, I.P.A. today will be "EEE-puh." And, I might win a bar bet or two, by citing the correct historical record.
Decisions, decisions. What EEEpuh would I drink for #IPADay? Twice. Here.