The India pale ale is a beer that has been around for centuries. The IPA, as it's more commonly known, was originally brewed in the 18th century for export from Britain to India.
This style evolved from well-hopped beers that were exported from England to India in the late 1700s. The India pale ale is now a popular beer among craft brewers and homebrewers worldwide, although it has been adopted by larger commercial breweries as well. It has become extremely popular over the last decade and the India pale ale beer glass has become an important part of serving this type of beer properly.
History & Evolution of the India Pale Ale
Before we go into why the IPA glass is best for this beer, let's have a quick look at the history of India pale ales. The India pale ale was first brewed in London by the porter brewers in the 1700s. This type of beer was created for the purpose of being exported from England to India because this would require a stable and strong-tasting beer that could endure the long journey without spoiling. What makes this beer so special? Well, hops! Hops are what give IPAs their signature bitter flavour and aroma and also act as a natural preservative.
With the advent of refrigeration, proper IPAs began to die out. That is, until around 1976, where craft brewers in the United States set about recreating forgotten British styles – including IPA. Fast forward to the present and the IPA is now one of the most popular craft beer styles around the world and has further segmented into various styles.
British IPAs are light amber to medium amber in colour, with an alcohol content that is between 5% and 7.5%. Because they are loaded with hops, they are less fruity in flavor and have a more bitter taste. Basically, British IPAs are malty, bitter, and kind of one-noted. They aren't too common these days.
Now, onto the American IPAs. West Coast IPAs are a bit lighter in colour and have aromas of tropical fruits like pineapple, grapefruit, and oranges. They taste more fruity with a hint of pine or resin from the hops used to make them. That's not to say they aren't bitter, but their bitterness is balanced with a very clean, crisp body, a higher level of carbonation, and delicious tropical fruit notes. This style of IPA is the one you'll usually find in bars and breweries across Australia.
The New England IPA is unfiltered (therefore often called a hazy IPA) and has extremely low bitterness from using blends of hops that lead to a more intense, fruity flavor. New England IPAs are often dry-hopped (amplifying the fruity/piney/candy-sweet notes of the hops) and tend to be fermented to have lower carbonation. These beers look like juice, smell like a fruit bowl and are extremely tasty. They are also pretty common at bars and breweries that serve craft beer but probably not as well-stocked as the West Coast IPA.
The IPA Glass
So, why the IPA glass? As you'll now know, the IPA style is known for its bold flavors and aromas that are brought on by generous additions of hops. Since IPAs have a more complex taste, longer aging periods, and a higher alcohol content, the IPA glass is an important part of serving this type of beer properly. The IPA glass is tall and cylindrical, which helps with the "aroma experience".
The glass is designed to preserve the fizz, aroma and full-bodied flavor of these beers by keeping them cold for longer while also encouraging a nice frothy head. What does this mean? Basically, it encourages aromas and flavors that would otherwise dissipate because of warm temperatures and high carbonation to stay intact for your enjoyment. The iconic ridges of the IPA glass aerate hoppy IPAs with each sip, releasing volatile aromatics in the process. The base of the IPA glass cuts in, indenting to capture beer at the bottom of the glass, while the wide open mouth captures these molecules and provide a space for a fluffy head. This allows you to take in all the fruity citrus and piney aromas, and ensures a decent head up until the last sip.
What's more, the IPA glass also showcases the beautiful colour and clarity (or haziness) of the beer. This way you get to appreciate the beautiful golden amber color (or the hazy juiciness) of this special beer before even taking a sip.
Looking for the perfect glass to enjoy your favourite IPA in? Check out our IPA glasses, available in Australia, now.