International #IPADay Is Here. Tweet, Blog, Read, and Celebrate Craft Beer. (And Follow It Up With A Dip In The Pool.)

Today, August 4, has been officially named India Pale Ale Day, or #IPADay, across the internet.  Numerous breweries and craft beer bloggers, namely Ashely Routson, aka “The Beer Wench”, pushed the idea forward back in June, perhaps not so much really to celebrate IPAs, but to unite the craft beer community (or perhaps even those outside of it, wine drinkers, mass market beer drinkers even) in celebration of craft beer on this one day by using, and showing, the power of social media.

The largest synchronized social media day centered around beer to date is actually an idea borrowed from the wine community, which previously has enjoyed success with such international “days” as #Chardonnay Day and #Cabernet Day.   A number of breweries signed on to celebrate it as well, and are holding events nationwide.  Of course, craft beer bloggers, web site writers, and twitter followers who all enjoy craft beer have been invited to spread the word about the wonderful world of craft beer, unified on a single day in celebration and for sheer impact.

Here at The Beer Road, I’m doing my little part.  Later on this evening, I’ll be toasting International #IPADay with a favorite, well, IPA of course.  I’m also including a quick write up of the classic beer style chosen as the focus style for this first social media based, celebration of craft beer day.  I could’ve left the IPA write up out, because truly, this is more about an overall celebration of craft beer, and spreading the word through all available social media streams.  But since there continues to be both so much love and so much misunderstanding about the IPA style, I thought it was more than worth it (as I always do) to dispel myths, as always, and attempt to further curiosity about the venerable style.  Celebrate International #IPADay!  Now, on to the beer….

IPAs.  They are the destination beer of hopheads everywhere and commonly misunderstood by those new to craft beer.  They have a long and storied history, and the best are talked about with the reverence normally reserved for lost works of art.  Their very identity centers around the also widely misunderstood hop, and because a large part of their flavor can too, they are, for most, an acquired taste.  (Their names also are often some of the best in the beer world. Need proof?  Let me pour you a Hoptimus Prime, or a Hop Stoopid, or simply a HopDevil.)   However, they are also widely varied in tastes and character, arguably more so than any other beer.  Each and every one of these beers embodies slight nuances in the classic flavors the style, and the hop which it’s flavor owes so much to, can show.  Pine, grassiness, herbal flavors, and my favorite, the seemingly countless layers of citrus like tastes which can show up in these beers make for a different tasting experience each time.  An acquired taste, yes.  But once acquired, such a wonderful one to embrace.

Of course, along with these flavors comes the most basic attribute that hops give to any beer, and that is the bitterness that counterbalances the sweetness of the malt.  And therein lies our acquired taste issue.  I had to ease into IPAs, sort of like easing yourself into a chilly pool, inching your way in while testing the water, pulling back out once or twice, only to keep dipping your fanny in until fully immersed in the water.  Or, you can just cannonball in all at once if you wish.  Just be forewarned.  If you’re not used to IPAs, there will be some icyness… um… bitterness involved in your dive.  Below, I’ve listed a few of my favorite IPAs so far.  I’ve often wrestled with the idea of what IPAs are good ones to recommend to those curious about the style.  It’s a dangerous ledge to toe.  Just as with any craft beer style, one beer may be to one’s liking, and another may be a little too much this, or too much that.  Add in the fact that yes, as I said before, there are hops involved here, and they wish to show you not just their flavors, but their bitterness as well.  If you are curious, maybe these are good starting points.  Maybe not.  But if you are truly curious about craft beer, eventually you will probably want to dive in.  Sooner or later, you may want to know what the buzz is all about, and get out of the lounge chair.  Trust me, the water feels perfect.

Some favorites:  Heavy Seas Loose Cannon (my own first successful dip into IPAs), Firestone Walker’s Union Jack, Bear Republic’s Racer 5, Bell’s Brewing Two Hearted Ale, Terrapin Brewing’s Hopsecutioner.

Visit “Drink With The Wench” Blog, #IPADay page.

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~ by thebeerroad on August 4, 2011.

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