Friday, January 25, 2013

Book Review: "IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale" by Mitch Steele

There can be no denying that India Pale Ale (IPA) is the most popular beer style in America.  Almost every brewery has their own take on the style, whether it be an American IPA, Double IPA, Black IPA or Belgian IPA.  According to the Brewers Association, the American Style IPA has been the most entered style in the Great American Beer Festival competition.  It should come as no surprise that the brewmaster at one of the countries leading breweries of IPA, Stone Brewing Company, has literally written the book on IPAs.  Mitch Steele has poured (and probably imbibed!) tons of research into the book, titled IPA:  Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale.  

In the first half of IPA, Mitch provides a written timeline of IPA history, starting in the 1700s when the IPA style emerged.  He brings us into the 1800s, and spends a lot of ink (deservedly so) detailing the revolutionary Burton IPA.  Then, in the 1900s, Mitch gives us an account of how the temperance movement, increased taxation and two world wars affected how the world was drinking IPA.  His timeline ends with the "craft beer IPA revolution", which brings us into the present day.

For each IPA style important to the history of IPAs, Mitch gives tons of details on how these beers were brewed.  He interviewed countless brewmasters, beer historians and beer bloggers.  He visited different brewing record archives in England, and provides the brewing records he found.  The brewing records include data such as gravity readings, amount of hops used, and attenuation percentages.

In the final chapter of this book, Mitch includes around 50 pages devoted to actual IPA recipes that you can attempt on your homebrew system.  There are a number of historic recipes, and many more contemporary ones.  Some notable recipes to me were Amsinck's No. 25 Burton East India Pale Ale, Blind Pig IPA, Stone IPA, Goose Island IPA, Russian River Pliny the Elder and Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Mitch's account on the world of IPAs.  IPA provides tons of useful information that could be useful to the professional brewer, homebrewer, and the beer fan who is just looking  to broaden their knowledge on the IPA style.  And you can find out just why the myth that English brewers brewed IPAs specifically to survive the trip to India is simply not true!

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