Crazy about IPA

When I met Bob for the first time on a blind date more than a decade ago it was over a nice pint of craft beer. I can’t remember what beer I drank but what I do know is that the evening went well because now he’s my husband. Bob has always been a fan of small independent breweries and a long time home brewer. It was his passion for craft beers and brewing that got me more interested in them, and – needless to say – him.

We are fond of beer and on our travels away from home we seek out the local brewpubs to get a taste of regional beers and sometimes their own small batch brews. Besides the beer it’s been fun tasting part of the native culture while sitting amongst the locals sampling good beer. We’ve met and chatted with some very interesting people along the way. Complete strangers come together because of this tasty beverage made of water, grain, hops and yeast.

Just recently I’ve become a fan of India Pale Ale (IPA) style beers. It did take me a while to acquire a taste for their stronger, more bitter taste but now I adore them. IPAs have been around for years but they seem to be getting more popular. The name comes from the East India Company, which exported some beer from England’s Bow Brewery in the early 1700s to India. They shipped their “October” beer named because it was brewed in the autumn and contained more hops (hops are harvested in the early fall). The beer survived the long 6-month voyage to India and ended up being well liked by the consumers. When more brewers started exporting their beers to India they also started making stronger hopped beers because of the demand and to survive the journey. Science has more recently shown, however, that hops do nothing to preserve beer. The IPA beer style, then, is one of those wonderful “accidental” creations based on inaccurate assumptions, kind of like the Frisbee (?: what the WHAT?).

It seems that almost everywhere we go brewers have their own version of IPA.  Some small Boise breweries have made some quite tasty IPAs. My current local favorite is Payette Brewing‘s Outlaw IPA. Store-bought bottled kinds I’m quite partial to are New Belgium Brewing’s Ranger IPA, but there are a lot of good ones out there these days.

Last spring, while visiting my parents in Payette, Idaho, I stopped into the local store to buy some beer. Standing at the cooler trying to figure out which one to buy, I noticed some dude in cutoffs and a white tank also agonizing over the suds selection. After placing a Broken Halo IPA 6-pack into my hand basket (Widmer Brothers’ excellent “introductory” IPA that, sadly, is no longer brewed), he commented on my splendid choice of beer. I thought it strange since nobody before had ever commented on my choice when buying other beers. A few weeks later, it happened again at WinCo by another customer at the checkout (a different dude despite his also sporting some nifty, even shorter, cutoffs) commenting about my IPA selection. It was almost like we were in some sort of secret

IPA club that I didn’t know about. The first rule of IPA club is that you don’t talk about IPA club. These comments from complete strangers reminded me of the time I went into Costco by myself to buy a chainsaw for the cabin. Wheeling my new chainsaw to the cashier, I sure got a lot of funny and odd remarks about the chainsaw from fellow customers (men again). Note to all single women out there: push a cart full of IPAs or maybe just a chainsaw around the store and you’ll certainly meet your future husband or just some weirdo in shorts.

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