Thursday, February 14, 2008

What's the "P" Stand For Again?

File this under Things that Annoy Me
Part II

Have you noticed how IPAs and (especially) Double IPAs are getting darker and darker? This bugs the hell out me. I hate to be "that guy", but is it purely the need to put the word 'double' on something that stops many brewers from calling their uber-hopped caramelized product a stock ale, or barley wine? You see, I like a light colored hop bomb, they generally showcase the hops more appropriately for the consumer than those with a bit more 'balance', even though that also sticks in my craw.

Over the weekend I was fortunate to judge the Bistro's Double IPA Festival and throughout the judging beers would pass my way that were deep golden to brown in color. The aromas in the darker beers had hints of toffee, a mess of alcohol and hops. That's just not what I want in my DIPA. Instead, give me a PALE beer, bready up front and ultimately nothing short of a hops showcase.

Are the darker versions good beers? You bet your ass they are! I seriously love some of these messy monsters, many of them beers I'd seek out on a regular basis if I could. I just can't help but think about the P part of the IPA abbreviation (pale, just in case). Sure, it can be deep golden in color, that's appropriate, but getting toward the brown and mahogany hues generally carries with it more malt character than I want in my DIPA.

Why does this matter? It doesn't. Not one bit. Just thought I'd share my thoughts on the subject.

While I'm at it. Have I mentioned my loathsome attitude toward the idea of having an Imperial IPA as a name for a style? You can throw Double IPA in there too. I still have no idea why our wonderful US brewers aren't pushing to have a style of their own, something that respects their ingenuity and our tastes/ingredients. IPA, of course, carries with it a heritage from the Old World, a heritage that is rich and beautiful. I don't have any troubles with having an American IPA, after all it began as a beer made with the same basic ingredients and ratios of the English versions, only using American hops and ingredients. It's my opinion that the Double/Imperial versions have absolutely nothing to do with this heritage. Of course, choosing a name for the style would be a battle, but I've liked Cascade Strong Pale (more to do with the region than the hop), American Strong Hopped Pale Ale, something that is as American as the beers themselves.

Now, it should be noted I have less issue with the term "double" than I do "imperial". I just can't wrap my head around what this really means to anyone! What Imperial court are we making this beer for? When did the US jump on the 'imperial' bandwagon and... why? I can only assume that people didn't really understand the history behind the naming of "Russian Imperial Stout", assuming it was imperial because it was big? Baffling. Simply baffling. Then of course, the idea that a brewer's double IPA isn't actually twice the ABV, IBU or price as their 'regular' IPA leaves me wondering about 'double'. In fact, it should be required that if a brewer has a double IPA and an IPA, the 'double' should seriously just be twice the grain bill and hopping - exactly twice the amount. Of course, I'd expect to pay double the amount for that too, right?

Yeah, it's a slow day and these are the things that pop into my cramped brain. Thanks for playing.