Tuesday, October 23, 2007

IPA Verses APA

Latter this week Regional Wines and Spirits will be holding their monthly beer tastings with this months series being on the theme of India Pale Ale contrasted with American Pale Ales. I thought I would get into the spirit of things and do a little comparison myself.

On a sun drenched evening earlier this week I sat down on my deck with 3 IPAs, a lamb madras and a palak paneer from the new Indian takeaway up the valley. On another evening I cranked Tom Petty and Johnny Cash on the stereo and tasted my way through 3 American or American style Pale Ales.

Ladies and Gentlemen in the Red corner wearing stars and stripes with an eagle on the shoulder and a menacing look in there eyes we have Epic Pale Ale, Emerson APA and Anchor Liberty, in the blue corner wearing the Union Jack with a cricket bat in their hands and a Leicester City FC scarf around the shoulder we have Deuchars IPA (wearing a Union Jack!!? The Scots will hate that) Goose Island IPA and Burton Bridge Empire Ale. A good clean fight…

Caledonian Deuchars IPA 4.4%ABV

We start with a modern day UK IPA low in strength and not as heavily hopped as one might imagine an IPA should be but as Ron Pattinson has so challengingly shown its hypocritical to refuse to accept a low strength IPA yet embrace a low strength Mild.

Pours a reassuring pale hue with a thick white head that climbs out of the glass. Aroma features heathery hops a touch of fresh red apple, and a touch of barley sugar. On the palate there is a dry barley sugar note, loads of heathery hop flavour and a chewy mouth feel all leading to a smooth bitterness.

Epic Pale Ale 5.4%ABV

The first APA up and it’s the star of recent NZ beer history. Full of American hops and finding its way into chillers that have never seen a craft beer in there lives its big its brash and you’ll never again be hopless.

Pours a pale gold with a sustained white head. Aroma features a complex mix of lychees, a touch of gooseberry, an un defined tropical fruit note, tropic Just Juice? . On the palate there is lots of tropical fruit, a slight salty note, some sweet malt a slightly hollow finish that seems to be neither bitter nor sweet. Fantastic aroma, a little unbalanced on the palate.

Goose Island IPA 5.9%ABV

A classic American IPA that is well known for its resinous hop weight.

Pours a mid gold with a billowing thick white head. Aroma features big bold raw hop aroma, slightly dusty earthy hopsack note. On the palate there is biscuity sweet malt, tangy grapfruit and a smooth ballanced finish. Im sure I remeber this as being more bitter in the past.

Emerson’s APA 2006 vintage 6%ABV

Here I have cheated and offered up an archive tasting note on last years Emerson’s APA vintage.

Balance is the catch cry for the 2006 version. Outstanding fruity citric grapefruit with some lychee aromas jump out of the glass while on the palate citric hop flavour and luscious complex malt vie perfectly.

Burton Bridge Empire Ale 7.5% ABV

A historical IPA recipe from a micro brewer in Burton very interesting beer, not nearly as fragrant as modern interpretations.

Very interesting historic IPA. Pours a mid gold with a tight white head. Aroma features a heady mix of yeasty fruit notibly apple perhaps some white grape, and alcohol. Palate starts with sweet malt, more apple some warmth then a resounding bitterness. Estery warm ale.

Anchor Liberty 5.9%ABV

A classic American Pale Ale , arguably the APA that started the style, hoppy and resinous yet well cushioned with malt character.

Pours a mid gold with thick sustained white head. Aroma features citrusy hops, notably grapefruit and a cracker like malt note. On the palate there is more citrusy hop that is well balanced by biscuity malt culminating in a firm bitterness.

Who’s the winner ? don’t be daft its like apples and pears mate. I guess that’s a draw. I will see what happens at the tastings.


Update 26/10/07:

In true post modern fashion this blog entry about the Regional Wines tasting was used as a resource at the Regional Wines tasting. The public feeling seemed to be in favour of the IPA's over the APA's , I would probibly agree with that.

I was also informed that tasting notes from this blog will be featured in the next Regional Wines newsletter, rather flattering.


Greig McGill said...

Another great column Kieran, but you left off the curry review! ;)

Interesting comment about the saltiness present in Epic. I just noticed this last night on draught at the Cock and Bull, and in fact accused the friends I was with of salting my pint while I wasn't looking. It was really unexpected. Maybe it's just the new batch.

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

The only batch where I havent had any salty/dry hop flavour was the first batch.

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

The Madras was nice and rich but could have used some heat. The palaak paneer was good but not eceptional. Im just stoked to have an indian take away in range now.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Hey chaps

Re the slight salty note in the Epic, I've heard of folks adding a teaspoon of salt to the boil when they're brewing. Apparently it is supposed to increase the hop aroma when you drink the beer. I doubt this would account for the salty taste you experienced but it allegedly works.

P.S. Great news about the curry house, a decent Ruby is a yardstick of civilisation (along with beer cricket and a nice cup of tea)

Keep up the good work gents.

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

Im pretty sure the saltyness is a by product of having dry hops in contact with the beer alittle to long. Im not a big fan of dry hopping as reckon it often leaves 'off' flavours in the beer.

Mister M said...

Interesting that yoou mention a slight lack of balance in Epic. I've noticed something similar. I had wondered if the serving temperature was having the effect of muting the malt, but I tried a couple at a slightly warmer-than-usual temperature and the piercing grapefruit acid was still the dominant note on the palate.

Don't get me wrong, I really like it, but I do miss the juxtaposition of hops and malt in the same mouthful.


Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

Luke is a hop head, his beer represents that. I appreciate them for what they are but they are on the whole not my cup of ale.