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American vs. English IPAs

Your homework this week: to memorize this chart.

Welcome to week four of Beer School! You’ve made it halfway through the course, so with only two weeks remaining, we toast to you, Pint Jockeys. In today’s lesson, we’ll take a look at the difference between the American and English interpretations of a worldwide favorite – the Indian Pale Ale.

But first, a little moniker history. Back in the early 18th century, the British exported pale ales to their troops in India. In an effort to preserve the beer during its long ocean journey, brewers added extra hops and, ipso facto, created a brand new and now very popular type of beer called, fittingly, the India Pale Ale, or IPA.

Of course, we Americans put our own spin on things and have thus appropriated the English favorite. The main difference between American and British IPAs? The hop content and quantity. We hop up our IPAs significantly more than the British, resulting in a beer with greater bitterness and an extra kick. Contrarily, English IPAs have a “light on mouth feel,” according to Oregon Live. And while American IPAs contain “hops with a big herbal and/or citric character,” Winning-Homebrew.com says English IPAs have “moderate to moderately-high hop aroma with notes of floral, earthy or fruity English hop.”

Pop quiz time! We’ve learned about lagers, amber ales, blonde ales and now Indian Pale Ales. So tell us, which style of craft beer do you think rakes in the most sales in the US? You guessed it! According to one of our favorite blogs, Beervana, American IPAs account for 19.4% of US craft beer sales, which is more than any other single style of beer. While that may not have come as shock to us hopheads, Beervana says 2011 was the first year IPAs surpassed all other types!

Ready for your homework? (PS, we were just kidding about the homework above.) Why don’t you grab your favorite American and English IPAs – we like Saint Arnold Elissa IPA (American) and Fuller’s IPA (English) – and drink up. Then, leave a comment below or on our Facebook page letting us know which you prefer and why. Bonus points of you tell us where you did your tasting.

Don’t procrastinate! Do your homework soon. Our beer school minimester is almost over, and with just two more weeks of beer school lessons, graduation is on the horizon.  What better way to cap off the course than by drinking more beer (and on someone else’s dime)? Join us for a graduation celebration at the September 20th Pint Jockeys tasting events in Victoria, Beaumont and Texas City! As always, we’ll post more details on the tastings here on the blog as we get them. In the meantime, make sure you’ve done all six weeks’ worth of homework, because the Pint Jockeys may give away prizes to our straight-A students!

Cheers ‘til next time, compadres!

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