Posts Tagged ‘IPA’

The Research Continues

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

I hope this is the last of my filler posts for a bit. When school starts back up for Rachel this next week I’ll have more time to write. Also with the clients back in their programs they’re calmer and therefore I can write during brief breaks at work. Still wont have internet though.

studying

I’ve been doing some more research on the origins of the IPA, and the more I research the more things I begin to understand about export beer.

Often when we discuss beer we view it through a lens tainted by our modern beer. We either assume that people in the 1800’s could, and did, produce consistent high quality beer using technology they didn’t even have, or we assume they needed some magical ingredient or method to make good beer. We often forget that tastes were different then, and also forget to factor in the flavor properties aging hoppy beers imparts. We live in a time when it’s all about fresh from the brite tank, highly hopped, high alcohol beers. If we step were to step into the 1800’s though we’d get a much different view from people about what beer was.

In order to understand the IPA it helps if we look at domestic Strong Ales of the time. Strong Ales were brewed both in the US and in Britain. In fact Capitol Taps (He doesn’t get enough link love from me) found an interesting article on a bottle of Strong Ale unearthed while workers excavated on Mission St in Salem. Apparently the bottle was discovered in 1909, and workers described the bottle as sound and having gained in quality. The article also states the bottle was at least 20 years old. If this is the case it shows that strong ales were not just an export beer brewed in Britain for the India market.

Another development is an email I got from a drinker in the UK. He recommended some books on the matter, but also mentioned that in hopping records from the time most beers for export at various places around the world were heavily hopped, not just IPA’s. They also mentioned that many beers at the time were apparently drunk aged, not young like most people assume. If IPA’s were in fact ment to be aged, and not drunk when they hit India’s shores, then this would greatly change the view of the IPA myth. The high hops in IPA’s would be less of a unique transport feature specific to the India market and more of a flavor issue. This would also strengthen the connection many people make between maltier “October Ales” and the IPA.

End of The IPA

Monday, July 20th, 2009

from theweeklybrew

herbs

There’s been no doubt for awhile now that the specialty beer of the west coast is the IPA. Both breweries in California and Oregon especially are known for their hoppy brews loaded with lupulin. But apparently that may be changing. A little bit back I commented on the increasing number of herbal beers out there. Personally I thought it was just a trend towards a newer flavor profile. After all if you watch beer trends it’s kind of silly the things they have to do to get the attention of beer snobs. On the 15th though JR Box emailed me an article originally posted at GuestOnTap and Mr. Abe Goldman-Armstrong has a different take.

Double or imperial IPAs that leave taste buds dripping with lupulin have become all the rage in recent years. In 2008, though, they might not be so prevalent.
  Hops, which impart resin and citruslike flavors, are in short supply and cost a pretty penny.
  Don’t blame the brewers in Oregon who pioneered the imperial IPA style or the San Diego brewers who parroted them; they’re not the reason for the shortage. A terrible hop harvest in Europe, increasing demand for hops in Asia and years of low prices pushing farmers out of business have caused the price of hops to leap from under $3 a pound to more than $14 for certain varieties

He points out that not only have prices gone up for hops, but malted barley also. The reality of our beverage is that we may continue to see rising prices for beer that never drop again. But do these rising costs mean the death of the Northwest IPA? Abe’s only interview that he directly quotes is one with Mark Martin. Mark is the owner of Calapooia Brewery in Albany. Mark talks about focusing on his popular beers that have less hops in them. The problem for Mark and other small breweries is that there is very little available in the way of extra hops.

My understanding of hop production is this. If you go out into a hop field one thing you may notice is that large chunks of the crop are earmarked for big breweries and suppliers. Hops aren’t a commodity where everything is dumped in one big pool and then people buy from that pool. Smaller breweries have a hard time squeezing their way into a share. Instead they generally wait and purchase either from a supplier, or wait for the stuff left over after harvest. Since farmers don’t grow extra this leaves suppliers who raise prices due to high demand. This means smaller breweries will have a much higher cost to produce that Imperial IPA that you love so much.

For the last bit Abe points to brewers who are using herbs in their beers. The problem is that places like Roots have been making herbals long before hops have reached their highs. Also he points to New Belgiums experiments with herbs. New Belgium however doesn’t have problems with ho procurement or low profitability of beers due to the large volumes they move. Besides that their not really famous for hoppy beers are they? It would be senseless then to argue this as a sign of switching from hops. More then likely New Belgium is hoping on the herbal bandwagon for sales, not to save costs.

So is this really the begining of the end for over hopped beers? Most likely not. Will we see more variety in terms of herbal beers available? Probably.

Thanks JR for sending in the article.

Pale Horse Brewery

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

 pale_horse_logo

Hmmm where do I start with Pale Horse?

Maybe I should start with the fact that it’s only miles from my house. Really, who knew it was this close? I went from kinda excited to major excited when I found out. Sadly Pale horse doesn’t keep their beers on tap though. So it’s not as exciting as it would be if Seven Brides was only miles from my house. I did get to try a pale ale though straight from the fermentor…. More on that in a sec though.

Pale Horse is brewed by Dennis. I didn’t get a last name though. Was just told his name was Dennis. Dennis is not only the brewer of Pale Horse, but also the only brewer in the group. He runs it along with his nephew (the seller) and I think his brother, but I could be wrong. Dennis is a homebrewer of something like seven years and has been operating commercially since January of this year. As CapitolTaps said (and I later learned first hand) his style leans towards less hoppy and less bitter beers. This is both a blessing and a bad thing (curse is an ugly term). Their Hillbilly Blonde is amazing. Their IPA…. Not bad.

honey-wheat-ipa-and-pale-horse-brewery-0009

Pale Horse runs their business by providing the general public, not beer snobs, with what they like. Many breweries in Oregon have pale ales as their flagship and breakout beers. For Pale Horse it’s a blond in an unassuming bottle. Overnight it seems Pale Horse is on tap in almost every bar, and from what I was told will be in Bi-Mart as well as Roth’s IGA where it seems to be doing well. Dennis’ nephew is the one responsible for this amazing event. His job is to travel around to bars raising the profile of their beer. So far they’re in many taverns and bars around Salem. With the job he’s doing their current brewing capacity won’t be able to keep up.

As to this no tours nonsense. Perhaps it was the time when many people asked, perhaps not. When I first called I got the we don’t do tours line also. After informing them that I had a blog and wanted to educate people on their business they were much more open to letting me come… alone. When you show up though you kinda get why they don’t do tours. There really isn’t alot of room. I think if you told them you were a brewer and were curious to see there operation they might be more open.

honey-wheat-ipa-and-pale-horse-brewery-0007

Apparently though the person I talked to on the phone didn’t remember me calling as when I showed up they didn’t seem to excited. Again I played the blog angle. Dennis came out of the office and we had a chat next to the grains. After talking for a bit Dennis offered me a taste of the pale ale he’s trying out. I’m really torn on this one. I was told that the pressure was being put on for the pale ale by a Drifter fan…. Anyway, I loved the malt flavor of this beer. My only issue was that there was a strong distinct bitter taste, but no real hop flavors. This pale ale has great potential if he can increase the hop juice without increasing the bitterness.

Over all the people at pale horse are great guys. Dennis is especially friendly. They remind me of the group of guys my dad and I go fishing with. They do their research for what sells in Salem, and they are eager. I hope they stay in Salem for a time yet. Look for them at the Summer Solstice Festival, the Oregon State Fair, and The Bite in Salem. Also they will have their pale ale out for sure soon and hope to have 5 beers by this time next year. Sorry bout the porter though for those who were excited. After researching they’ve decided a porter isn’t where they want to go quite yet.