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