Within the craft beer market there's never been a phenomenon to match the growth of IPA. Originally a high-alcohol, malty, hoppy beer able to survive the pre-refrigeration shipping from England to India, India pale ale is now a hop for the world's craft brewers.
In the United States, engine room of the craft-brewing business, IPA volume leapt from 8 per cent of the total craft market to 27.4 per cent in mid-2015, and that was in a rapidly growing market.
"Craft brewing is on pace to have a total volume this year three times larger than it was in 2008," Bart Watson writes on brewersassociation.org. "The [IPA] category would have grown more than 10 times its 2008 size, or more than 6 million barrels [704 million litres]."
IPA is on a similar trajectory in Australia, albeit on a far smaller scale.
Feral Brewing War Hog American IPA 330ml
Golden-coloured War Hog, from the Swan Valley, Western Australia, saturates the senses with hop-derived tropical-fruit and citrus characters. Up the nose it goes, then it floods the palate with rich, smooth malt flavour and warming alcohol (8 per cent). The hops push through, giving a resiny, dry, very bitter aftertaste.
Pirate Life Imperial IPA 500ml can
Mid-amber-coloured Pirate Life, from South Australia, increases the alcohol content to 8.8 per cent, and all the other flavours rise with it. The aroma reveals the resiny, rather than citrusy, fruity side of hops. Likewise, powerful, resiny hops stomp over the palate, barely restrained by molasses-like malt, then fanned by alcoholic sweetness and astringency.