Saturday, July 8, 2017

What the heck is an East End IPA?

These days it seems like there is a new "style" of beer being created every day and I for one am all for it.  Creating new things that defy any current categorization is just the kind of anarchy we need these days.  However, it can get pretty confusing to the casual observer or anyone else who isn't as "wired" into the beer world as some of us are.

Most beer styles have historically originated from very specific regions of the world.  Everything from available ingredients to water chemistry to regional taste dialects have gone into shaping the many styles of beer created around the world.  Nowadays the world operates in a much more "global" fashion and we have the ability to brew styles of beer that are in no way native to the constraints of our local supply chain.  While this is great for product diversity and consumer choice, sometimes it seems as though a little bit of the history and subtlety of why a beer came to be is lost.  Beer is meant to be a product of its locality, best drank fresh and from the source.  Much in the same way that Champagne can only come from that region (all else is Sparkling Wine) there are also label laws that must be used so that people do not get confused about the origin of a particular beer.  For example "Kolsch Style Ale" must be used to represent a beer that is in the style of Kolsch, but not actually from that region.

What's the point of this and what does it have to do with the topic of this post?  Well if you are familiar with the history of IPA (India Pale Ale) you'll know that through the years there have become so many variations of the style that it is nearly impossible to keep them all straight.  Why?  Marketing gimmick?  Sure, somewhat.  Isn't everything these days?  In this case I believe there is a bit more to it though.  IPA originated as a very specific style of beer made for a specific reason.  The British needed a beer that would survive the long boat trip to colonial India and found that adding lots of hops to the beer preserved it for the journey.  When fresh, this beer was undrinkable and therefore made purely for export. Fast forward a few hundred years to America where we have taken this style and turned it onto its head in such a way that it now must be drank super fresh or else it is "no good".  It's been a very interesting evolution of a beer style.  More than any other beer I can think of it has evolved into something completely different than what it was originally meant to be and that's OK.  Adapt or expire as they say.

Because IPA has evolved into a product that needs to be drank very fresh to be best enjoyed, it has inherently become a more localized product.  In a modern world where seemingly everything you could ever want is at your fingertips,  IPA is almost a step into the past in that so many different regional variations have been created through the years in order to satisfy the people in that area.  So now we have NorthWest IPA, East Coast IPA, MidWest IPA, New England IPA and probably 10 other variants that aren't large enough to pop up on our radar screens yet.  While all of these sub-styles started from the same basic flavor profile a lot of nuance and differences can be found in them.  Nowhere else in the world of beer is this true anymore.  A Kolsch from California will taste pretty similar to a Kolsch from Georgia or Delaware.  Many styles are somewhat "codified" in that there isn't much wiggle room for how to produce it.  IPA on the other hand has become a refreshing change from the assimilation of all cultures that seems to be growing as the world becomes more "global".  It's fun to see brewers and drinkers from different regions of the country talk about how their IPA's are better than yours and debate about the nuance of appropriate haze and bittering levels.  It helps to remind us that we are all different people and we have different tastes and that not everyone across the country (or the world) is the same.  It's something that I think we need a little bit more of in the world today.

So to finally answer the question.  What is an East End IPA?  It's nothing.  We made it up.  We aren't in Oregon so it's not a NW IPA.  We aren't in Maine so it's not a NE IPA.  Our brewery is in the East End of Cincinnati and therefore what we are producing is an East End IPA.  Plain and simple.  It is an IPA brewed in this locality for this locality.  We aren't trying to recreate something that someone has already done somewhere else.  Where's the fun in that?  We are producing something that is for us and about us, here, in little old Cincinnati, Ohio.

But if you REALLY need a description, here you go....

We built this beer using bits and pieces of several other IPA styles that we enjoy and have put them together in our own way...the BLANK SLATE way.  Lots of new school fruit juicy hops but with a little bit of old school pine and resin mixed in.  The beer has a bit of body to balance the hops, but is brewed to be dry enough that it doesn't have a cloyingly sweet finish.  There is some bitterness, but not as aggressive as many others out there.  It is unfiltered and unfined but is NOT a yeast milkshake.  It is simply an IPA that we like to drink and we hope you will too.

Until next time...

-Scott and the BSBC team.