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Thread: IPA's - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

  1. #1

    Default IPA's - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

    Having tried 3 new (to me) IPA's this week it's great news to see the continuing rise in popularity of this style amongst both brewers and consumers. There are clearly some great IPA's out there - the good, some which really shouldn't be called IPA's at all - the bad, and some dodgy drinkers such as myself trying to find the good and avoid the bad - the ugly. I've listed some favourites and recent finds below as well as some obvious offenders:

    The Good

    Marble - Lagonda IPA 5% (beer of the century for me)
    Blue Monkey - Ape Ale 5.4%
    Brew Dog - Punk IPA 5.6%
    Thornbridge - Jaipur IPA 5.9%
    Art Brew - Monkey 6.4% and Spanked Monkey 6.4% (interesting to ask attractive barmaids for the latter)
    Acorn - Scorachi IPA 5.5%
    Bingham - Space Hoppy IPA 5%
    Tryst - Raj IPA 5.5%

    The last 3 I've had this week and all were very good.

    The Bad

    Greene King - IPA 3.6%
    Caledonian - Deuchars IPA 3.8%
    Marlow - Rebellion IPA 3.7%
    Brains - IPA 3.4%
    Wells - Eagle IPA 3.6%

    Anyone have any others which really should be tried if found or studiously avoided?
    Last edited by Thuck Phat; 04-11-2011 at 13:36.

  2. #2
    Pub researcher (unpaid) rpadam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thuck Phat View Post
    Having tried 3 new (to me) IPA's this week it's great news to see the continuing rise in popularity of this style amongst both brewers and consumers. There are clearly some great IPA's out there - the good, some which really shouldn't be called IPA's at all - the bad, and some dodgy drinkers such as myself trying to find the good and avoid the bad - the ugly. I've listed some favourites and recent finds below as well as some obvious offenders:

    The Good

    Marble - Lagonda IPA 5% (beer of the century for me)
    Blue Monkey - Ape Ale 5.4%
    Brew Dog - Punk IPA 5.6%
    Thornbridge - Jaipur IPA 5.9%
    Art Brew - Monkey 6.4% and Spanked Monkey 6.4% (interesting to ask attractive barmaids for the latter)
    Acorn - Scorachi IPA 5.5%
    Bingham - Space Hoppy IPA 5%
    Tryst - Raj IPA 5.5%

    The last 3 I've had this week and all were very good.

    The Bad

    Greene King - IPA 3.6%
    Caledonian - Deuchars IPA 3.8%
    Marlow - Rebellion IPA 3.7%
    Brains - IPA 3.4%
    Wells - Eagle IPA 3.6%

    Anyone have any others which really should be tried if found or studiously avoided?
    My head has been resting behind the parapet for a little while, so I'll risk asking whether the "good" IPAs are really 'good' or (based on the quoted percentages) just the strong ones?

    PS - Whilst the firing squad is loading its ammunition, is Greene King IPA really a bad beer? Yes, it is sold (out of condition) by many pubs with only a token or passing interest in real ale, but if you find somewhere decent that looks after its beer then it can be a fine light pint...

  3. #3

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    All those I've listed under Good, I've thoroughly enjoyed so from that point of view the list is subjective. But they are also all in the traditional IPA style, pale ales with sufficient alcohol content to last a trip to India by boat. The list is obviously not exhaustive as part of the reason for raising the issue was to put together a list of IPA's which people were enjoying.

    The Bad, as you say RP, aren't necessarily bad as a drink, although I'm not keen on any of them, but they're not true IPA's as with that low an alcohol content they're unlikely to last the trip.

  4. #4
    I'll stay on me own PaulOfHorsham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thuck Phat View Post
    But they are also all in the traditional IPA style, pale ales with sufficient alcohol content to last a trip to India by boat. The list is obviously not exhaustive as part of the reason for raising the issue was to put together a list of IPA's which people were enjoying. The Bad, as you say RP, aren't necessarily bad as a drink, although I'm not keen on any of them, but they're not true IPA's as with that low an alcohol content they're unlikely to last the trip.
    Sorry, Thuck, but the history of IPA is somewhat more complex, not too say controversial! The beers shipped to India in the 19th century were not strong by the standard of the time. ABVs of 5% or more were pretty common, but it does seem that export beers were more heavily hopped than normal. The style has, however, changed over time, and the likes of Greene King IPA would have been regarded as standard IPAs in the mid 20th century. Pete Brown explains it (I've also read much the same in 'Hops & Glory' but there's no index and I'm not going to search for page references).

    Ron Pattinson, meanwhile, has uncovered a reference which suggests that taxation was a factor in the alcohol content. Further, beer with less alcohol might have been more suitable for the Indian climate. The comments on both posts make interesting reading.

    Many of these modern IPAs are influenced by the American interpretation of the style and generally use large amounts of American hops. While there was some use of these in the past, they wouldn't have been used in the same quantities, nor would they have been the same varieties. One can argue that Punk is no more a traditional IPA than Deuchars.

    It's probably best not too get too hung up on 'style' and just divide beer into two easily definable camps: (1) beer I like; (2) beer I don't like.
    Last edited by PaulOfHorsham; 05-11-2011 at 16:58.
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  5. #5
    Old & Bitter oldboots's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulOfHorsham View Post
    the history of IPA is somewhat more complex, not too say controversial!

    Clearly the situation is worse than I thought!I'm afraid there's not much I can do about that last mess. Hopefully, some of you can pick through what I've written and, hopefully, will be able to read the 2 articles I linked to.I'd better tell Conrad what's happened!
    I think you've got it about right in terms of modern research by Ron Pattinson and Martyn Cornell. The Pete Brown link isn't working, there could be a bit missing. (Looks like my embedding is working though )

    I also think that there is a problem with some brewers using the label "IPA" in an 18th/19th Century sense (but with US hops) while others use it in the late 20th C sense for beers that I would call ordinary bitters - all too ordinary in a lot of cases. I usually know which version I'm going to get but stilll get caught out sometimes.

    My preference is for the recreated/updated style and I'll add Moor Pacific IPA (6%) and Kirkstall Dissolution (5%) to TP's yes list. What about the US versions particularly Sierra Nevada and Snake Dog?
    Last edited by oldboots; 05-11-2011 at 09:30.

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  6. #6
    Waterborne Beer Inspector Bucking Fastard's Avatar
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    An IPA that I didn't enjoy was Mc Mullens IPA which is a recent addition to their portfolio and if I am being uncharitable I would suggest is their attempt to jump on the IPA bandwagon.Although a 4.8% beer,there is an indistinct taste and very little hop character.One for the "bad" list.

    Penzance Brewing IPA on the other hand at 6% was a very fine drink and one for the "good " list.

    Thanks to Paul for some interesting links on the subject.I still struggle to feel that Greene King IPA is anything more than a low strength ,indifferent session bitter but maybe I need to reconsider

  7. #7

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    Thank you Paul and OB, you've bought light into my darkness. I'll go with Paul's excellent suggestion of not getting hung up on style and to that end I've left out the strengths. On that basis the Good list is for those IPA's which people like and the Bad for those they wouldn't seek out again. Here's the update:

    The Good

    Marble - Lagonda IPA
    Blue Monkey - Ape Ale
    Brew Dog - Punk IPA
    Thornbridge - Jaipur IPA
    Art Brew - Monkey and Spanked Monkey
    Acorn - Scorachi IPA
    Bingham - Space Hoppy IPA
    Tryst - Raj IPA
    Moor Pacific IPA (OB)
    Kirkstall Dissolution (OB)
    Penzance Brewing IPA (BF)

    The Bad

    Greene King - IPA
    Caledonian - Deuchars IPA
    Marlow - Rebellion IPA
    Brains - IPA
    Wells - Eagle IPA
    McMullen's IPA (BF)

  8. #8
    I'll stay on me own PaulOfHorsham's Avatar
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    You're welcome TP. Now that my powers have been restored, I may even go back and re-edit my post from earlier.

    One IPA I can add to the 'good' list is Dark Star 'Green Hopped IPA': November's beer of the month. I popped down to the brewery earlier and now I have 4 pints in the fridge (well, 3 1/2 - there's some in front of me here). I see from the 'Beerfinder' page on their website that 6 casks have been dispatched to Cask in Pimlico - I may well track some down later in the week.

    I also enjoyed Kernel's Simcoe IPA a few weeks back - keg, mind; I know that offends some, but I nominated it as a beer of the week for me.
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  9. #9
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    I am no expert on real ales but i do like to drink them.

    I have tried a few of the beers on the good list and agree that these are nice beers.

    On the bad list i have never liked Deuchars IPA but some of the others have been decent drinks for me, regarding Greene King IPA i went to Bury St Edmunds and drank it all day and enjoyed most but this beer does seem to have altered over the years or is this my taste buds playing up with me.

    There is one beer that is not on the list that i had lots of when in Devizes this is Wadworths Henrys IPA i really like this beer but as i have said i am no expert on real ale so is this beer a proper IPA.

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    Those drinking in London in the darkest days of real ale will remember that Charrington's IPA was all you get across great swathes of the city. It was small wonder so many people had light and bitter. Seventies nostalgia can be very overrated.

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