The American version of this stalwart ale bears little resemblance to the English original. Originally, India Pale Ales had an extra dose of hops added to act as a preservative during the keg's long voyage from the British Isles to the Jewel in the Crown. The bite contributed by the hops was an added bonus. But we Americans like to amp things up, especially in the Northwest. Here are three very different IPAs, one from a new project backed by Escondido, Calif.'s Stone Brewing:
Crooked Fence Hop Notion IPA, $4.49-$5.99, 22 ounce
This brew pours a cloudy straw color and sports a single-finger head that collapses quickly but leaves a nice lacing. On the nose, it's a mix of smooth hops, fresh-mowed grass, saltine crackers and green tea. Beautifully balanced, this beer has citrus, tropical fruit and light malt, backed by bright hops that carry through to the crisp finish. The local boys made good with this easy-drinking IPA at a great price.
Stochasticity Project Grapefruit Slam IPA, $6.99-$8.99, 22 ounce
A thick, egg-white head with good retention tops this crystal clear, bright amber brew. The aromas are on the exotic side, with candied ginger, clove, Orange Creamsicle, dried fig and caramel malt. Hops make more of an appearance on the palate, where they blend nicely with the smooth malt and graham cracker flavors. The fruit component combines citrus and peach with grapefruit zest on the finish.
Widmer Upheaval IPA, $1.39-$1.79, 12 ounce
In the glass, this beer is a tangerine-tinged, hazy golden pour with a very thin, porous head. Lightly herbaceous, resiny hops dominate the nose, gradually letting through hints of citrus, mango and melon. Bitter hops are first out of the gate on the palate, as well, colored by pine and citrus, and backed by just the right hit of creamy malt. This brew finishes dry and refreshingly bitter.