Further Reading #2: Understanding IPA

Fake book cover, Pelican/Penguin style.

We’d love to be able to buy a reference anthology of great writing on the subject of IPA. This post, a manifestation of wishful thinking, is the next best thing.

There is also an idea that when peo­ple ask for advice on where to read about the his­to­ry and cul­ture of IPA, which hap­pens from time to time, we can just point them here.

Hope­ful­ly, this series of links, in rough­ly this order, pro­vides the out­line of a nar­ra­tive with­out too many details and diver­sions.

It’s aimed at learn­ers, or peo­ple after a refresh­er, but we hope even jad­ed vet­er­ans will find a cou­ple of items they’ve missed.

Where we have been able to iden­ti­fy free-to-access sources we’ve pro­vid­ed links and in the cas­es of mate­r­i­al you have to pay for we’ve tried to sug­gest free alter­na­tives.

This one feels like more of a work in progress than the lager list. If you can sug­gest sub­stan­tial, solid­ly researched arti­cles that fill in gaps then let us know either in the com­ments or by email.

Detail from a vintage India Pale Ale beer label.
The Colonial Origins of India Pale Ale

IPA: The Exec­u­tive Sum­ma­ry
Mar­tyn Cor­nell
In bul­let point form, the key facts in re: the ori­gins of India Pale Ale – a use­ful intro­duc­tion and a handy ref­er­ence.
zythophile.co.uk, March 2010

The First Ever Ref­er­ence to IPA
Mar­tyn Cor­nell
This is the 4,000 word arti­cle sum­marised in the above piece and it goes into painstak­ing detail about the peri­od when the spe­cif­ic term India Pale Ale came into use, what it meant at that time, and whether there is any cer­tain­ty over who might have ‘invent­ed’ IPA.
zythophile.co.uk, March 2010;  with an impor­tant fol­low up in May 2013.

Indi­an Pale Ale: an Icon of Empire
Alan Pry­or
This aca­d­e­m­ic paper cov­ers some of the same ground as Cor­nel­l’s posts, above, but with a par­tic­u­lar empha­sis on IPA’s sta­tus as a prod­uct of colo­nial­ism, nei­ther British nor Indi­an, and how its exot­ic sta­tus con­tributed to the rise in its pop­u­lar­i­ty in Eng­land.
commodityhistories.org, Novem­ber 2009 (PDF)

India Pale Ale No. 1
20th Century Decline of IPA

IPA Post World War One
Mitch Steele
Mr Steele’s book on IPA, though aimed at home­brew­ers, is per­haps the sin­gle best vol­ume on the sub­ject, draw­ing on the research and guid­ance of Ron Pat­tin­son and Mar­tyn Cor­nell among oth­ers, and cov­er­ing every­thing from IPA’s gen­e­sis to mod­ern craft beer incar­na­tions of the style. This par­tic­u­lar peri­od in the his­to­ry of IPA, though much men­tioned here and there, does not seem to have been sum­marised any­where else as neat­ly as here. It gives the con­text for Eng­lish IPA’s decline into rel­a­tive bland­ness and weak­ness and explains how we end­ed up with beers like Greene King IPA, styl­is­ti­cal­ly indis­tin­guish­able from any oth­er stan­dard bit­ter.
IPA: Brew­ing Tech­niques, Recipes and the Evo­lu­tion of India Pale Ale, 2013 (book)
(Alter­na­tive:Ron Pat­tin­son on ‘low grav­i­ty IPAs’ at barclayperkins.blogspot.com)

Bal­lan­ti­ne’s IPA
Mitch Steele
The sec­tion of the same book on Bal­lan­ti­ne’s, an influ­en­tial Amer­i­can IPA of the pre-craft-beer era, is a must-read, and also comes with care­ful­ly devised his­tor­i­cal recipes for those who like to take things apart and look at the springs inside.
IPA: Brew­ing Tech­niques, Recipes and the Evo­lu­tion of India Pale Ale2013 (book)
(Alter­na­tive: ‘Bal­lan­tine India Pale Ale, Then and Now’, Gary Gill­man, beeretseq.com, Novem­ber 2015)

Britain’s Best Exam­ple of an India Pale Ale”
Michael Jack­son
This brief arti­cle for a British news­pa­per, more than 25-years-old but pre­served online sur­round­ed by gaudy ads, cap­tures the moment when IPA was at its low­est ebb in terms of esteem and avail­abil­i­ty.
independent.co.uk, August 1992

The IPA Revival

IPA Gets Amer­i­can­ised
Tom Acitel­li
In his book Acitel­li pins down how IPA made its way into Amer­i­can craft beer via Anchor Brew­ing, via Eng­land, and came to be asso­ci­at­ed with Cas­cade hops in par­tic­u­lar. He also runs through a whole suc­ces­sion of IPA step­ping stones and ori­gin sto­ries.
The Audac­i­ty of Hops, 2013 (book)

How Bert Grant Saved the World
Michael Jack­son
This obit­u­ary for the Scots-Cana­di­an-Amer­i­can brew­ing leg­end also offers a brief sum­ma­ry of Grant’s con­tri­bu­tion to the rebirth of IPA as a strong, hop­py beer beloved of enthu­si­asts.
beerhunter.com, August 2001

How the West Coast-Style IPA Con­quered the World
Erin Mos­baugh
Hyper­bole aside, this is a use­ful sum­ma­ry of, or alter­na­tive to, Acitel­li’s work above, full of quotes from brew­ers and oth­er inter­est­ing details, includ­ing notes on the birth of the dou­ble IPA.
firstwefeast.com, March 2015

Restored to Glo­ry
Roger Protz
Mr Protz has recount­ed sev­er­al times the sto­ry of how Mark Dor­ber drove renewed inter­est in IPA from his base at the White Horse in west Lon­don dur­ing the 1990s. The vet­er­an beer writer was there, a key play­er in his own right, and does a won­der­ful job of con­vey­ing the excite­ment of the rebirth of this ‘lost’ style and its trans-Atlantic impact.
IPA: a leg­end in our time, 2017 (book)
(Alter­na­tive: por­tions of IPA Mas­ter Class’, All About Beer, Sep­tem­ber 2007)

Pale and Inter­est­ing
Roger Protz
This archive piece records the sit­u­a­tion in Britain in the mid-00s: a hand­ful of would-be authen­tic IPAs were in pro­duc­tion, and Goose Island IPA was an excit­ing import turn­ing heads.
protzonbeer.com, June 2005

British Craft Beer Dis­cov­ers Amer­i­can IPA
Boak & Bai­ley
Sor­ry for includ­ing our­selves but we can’t find a sim­i­lar sum­ma­ry of this short stretch of British beer his­to­ry, in which Mean­time (Alas­tair Hook), Thorn­bridge and Brew­Dog all put big, aro­mat­ic, Amer­i­can-influ­enced IPAs cen­tre-stage.
Chap­ter 13, Brew Bri­tan­nia, 2014 (book)
(Alter­na­tive: Clas­sic Beer of the Month: Thorn­bridge Jaipur’, Jeff Evans, insidebeer.com, Novem­ber 2010)

Text Illustration: JUICY JUICY against hazy yellow-orange
IPA Today

What We Talk About When We Talk About IPA
Bryan Roth
The label IPA is these days applied to many dif­fer­ent types of beer, often bear­ing lit­tle resem­blance to each oth­er, because, as Mr Roth high­lights in this piece, IPA is a buzz-phrase that sells beer.
goodbeerhunting.com, Octo­ber 2017

Let’s Talk Beer Styles: Black IPA
Jim Vorel
This piece does a good job of sum­maris­ing the ori­gins of this once very hot style, at least in the Amer­i­can con­text, high­light­ing the his­toric prece­dent for dark, hop­py beers, and flag­ging some ear­ly exam­ples from the 1990s that weren’t labelled as such. It also cov­ers the var­i­ous con­tro­ver­sies over ter­mi­nol­o­gy and the very idea that a black beer could be badged as pale.
pastemagazine.com, April 2016

Ses­sion IPA
Per­haps it’s because this trend is still fer­ment­ing that we haven’t been able to iden­ti­fy a sin­gle tidy sum­ma­ry of how it came to be, and what it might mean. So, for the time being, here are some bite-sized pieces you’ll need to digest your­self:

How the Hazy New Eng­land IPA Con­quered Amer­i­ca
Kate Bernot
This is a neat rat­tle through the his­to­ry of this con­tentious new­born sub-style, which also attempts to explain its appeal to drinkers: “Wow, it smells amaz­ing. Just smell that!”
thrillist.com, Octo­ber 2017

Illustration: five IPA bottles.
Final Thoughts

We Changed the World… For This?
Lew Bryson
In this piece the Amer­i­can beer and whisky writer best known as a cham­pi­on of ses­sion beer express­es his dis­may at the ubiq­ui­ty of IPA: “If all you drink is IPA, you’re just anoth­er damned her­bi­vore. It’s like you kicked the fast food habit and all you do is eat at dif­fer­ent sushi hous­es. Sushi’s great, but … every day? What about cheese?”
allaboutbeer.com, August 2016

IPA is Short­hand for the Amer­i­can Tra­di­tion
Jeff Alworth
In this blog post Mr Alworth, who writes fre­quent­ly and thought­ful­ly about IPA, argues that in the 21st cen­tu­ry it has come to mean some­thing quite divorced from India Pale Ale to drinkers around the world: it now stands for Amer­i­ca.
beervanablog.com, August 2016