Ever wonder why it's called India Pale Ale? Say what you will about the evils of colonialism, but it’s thanks to the British empire that we have IPA, created out of demand on the part of colonial troops stationed in the subcontinent during the 18th and 19th centuries. It’s thought that the flavor and aroma of the extra hops, along with its elevated alcohol content, gave IPA the fortification it needed to withstand the long voyage between London and Bombay without spoiling.
Since I’m not much of a beer drinker myself, Food Comma enlisted resident ale expert NLS to taste-test a few IPAs for this week’s drinks feature.
Lagunitas Brewing Company
$8.99 per six-pack at Big Mac’s, Silver Lake
This is my go-to beer, hands down, the workhorse IPA that I so crave. Back in ’93–’99 when I was in Michigan, I would by default buy Labatt’s. Something I knew I would like, no experimentation necessary. In 2009 this has become my Labatt’s: nuthin’ fancy, dependable, steadfast, and true. Tonight, the night belongs to Lagunitas IPA. Ahhhhhh... –NLS
Stone Brewing Company
$13.99 per six-pack at Cap ’n’ Cork, Los Feliz
According to the liner notes on the back (do beers have liner notes?), Stone Ruination IPA not only has 100+ IBUs, which stands for International Bitterness Units, but also will render any food or drink thereafter bland, in effect “ruining” your ability to settle for lesser drinks. A few sips into my first one, I wasn’t sure if this was so much of a good thing. The hops content seemed a little too extreme, way too bitter—and typically I like bitter. Must come back to and try again. Hey, I thought Lagunitas was extreme the first time I tried it. –NLS
THE SHIPYARD IPA
Shipyard Brewing Company
$8.99 per six-pack at Cap ’n’ Cork, Los Feliz
Interested in trying an IPA from the East Coast, I was happy to find this IPA at the Cap. Now I’m not sure to blame the Cap or their distributor or if I have been the victim of psych-mology. Just prior to popping the bottle I notice one of those “freshness date” things. Well, the thing said “Best enjoyed by December 07.” Uh-oh. My first impression: soap and tea. Not ideal. Next time will remind myself to check for dust on the bottle. –NLS