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IPA: A Legend in Our Time

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by Roger Protz

Thirty years ago, IPA was all but dead and buried.

IPA: A Legend in Our TimeThe beer that once famously quenched the thirsts of British ex-pats in India and made Burton-upon-Trent one of the world’s brewing capitals had withered away to almost nothing.

In place of authentic, full-bodied beers with a high hop rate and a good smack of alcohol, brewers had bestowed the name IPA onto a mostly uninspiring new family of beers that were effectively just session-strength ales with little hop character.

Hunt high or low and you would struggle to find an IPA worthy of the name.

Contrast that scenario with today. IPA is now the beer style that most new brewers are judged upon, even though they might have many others in their portfolio.

It is the style that has given the greatest expression to the artisan brewer’s best friend – the hop – and changed perceptions of drinkers all around the world so that they no longer settle for bland, industrial lager.

The remarkable story of how this has all come about is told in this chunky new hardback from Roger Protz.

Protz has written extensively about IPA before but here he places the style in the context of the craft beer revolution, which, as we all know, has changed everything.

Bass One-Off

The book begins with a summary of how IPA has come back from the grave and taken the world by storm, citing the events of summer 1990, when a young Mark Dorber, cellarmaster at London’s White Horse pub, encouraged Bass to recreate a one-off genuine IPA to showcase the wonders of this forgotten style.

Protz continues by exploring how the fledgling breweries of the US then took up the mantle and used IPA as a showcase for the extravagantly fruity flavours of the American hop.

He then steps back in time to look at the origins of this remarkable beer. Here, the author is in his element, wallowing in historic tales that he illustrates with plenty of quotations and anecdotes.

The reasons for IPA’s tragic demise are dolefully explained and then we’re off once more into more positive territory, exploring how a classic IPA is brewed.

Due reference is given to the vital ingredients, including the all-important water, and then the very best examples of the style today are celebrated and profiled, from the classics that have survived – or been revived – to the latest interpretations, complete with tasting notes.

These pages reveal that it’s not only the UK and the US that are driving the IPA renaissance. Beers such as St Feuillien Green Flash and Vedett Extraordinary IPA prove that Belgium is not just a country beholden to its own illustrious brewing heritage, while Toccalmatto’s Schizoid American IPA, Schönramer India Pale Ale and Ninkasi IPA – among other featured beers – underline that the IPA buzz has also reached Italy, Germany and France.

There are beers from other parts of Europe, Asia and the southern hemisphere, too, before the book goes on to reflect on new variations on the style, such as black IPAs and fruit IPAs. More than 170 IPAs are featured in all.

Knowledge and Authority

Throughout the text, Protz’s knowledge and authority shine through. Having been a professional beer writer for more than 40 years, he has plenty of material to draw on and he’s always been an advocate for IPA.

Over the years he has generously helped brewers revive old recipes and create new, he’s spoken to captivated audiences about the history and future of the style, and he’s always been quick to extol the virtues of any impressive new IPA that arrives on the scene.

Not for nothing has he picked up countless awards for his writing, which – as here – always manages to combine attention to detail with great readability.

Much has been published about IPA in recent times but, if you want a book that delivers the whole story – from the start to where we are today – then look no further.

First edition (2017)

320-page paperback (Pavilion Books)

£20

Available now from amazon.co.uk and other retailers

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