Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Moylan's India Pale Ale

Moylan's India Pale Ale, Moylan's Brewing Company, Novato, CA

Since I started with an American Pale Ale, the next logical choice for a beer to review is an American take on a British classic, the India Pale Ale. India Pale Ales (IPAs) have a history, a tradition, a beer drinker's kind of story behind the beer. Originally designed for export to British soldiers in India (shocker), hops possess antiseptic qualities and were used to prevent spoiling on the long voyage. In addition to their role in the brewing process, hops were added to the barrels destined for overseas. During the voyage to India, oils in the hops would permeate the beer and impart distinct hop flavors and aromas. Perhaps the beer, before being barreled with hops, was just a normal british pale ale, or a bitter perhaps.

Fast forward to the present, with our plethora of American craft breweries, reinventing, re-imagining, and rediscovering beer styles from around the globe and from throughout history. The American version of the IPA is full of American hops and accompanied by caramel and sometimes biscuit and toasted malt flavors. The Beer Judge Certification Program's notes on the American IPA point out that it is less malty in flavor than the British version. There is definitely an emphasis on hops, over the more balanced flavor profile found in British IPAs.

Moylan's India Pale Ale is an excellent example of the American version of the IPA style. Intense American grown hops hover over a slightly malty background, with enough alcohol content (6.5% ABV) to mellow and refresh you after a long day's work. Moylan's India Pale Ale pours a golden orange color, with a foamy white head and a decent amount of bubbles. The bouquet hits you quickly, with notes of pine and citrus. There’s a slight caramel malt undertone to the aroma, promising good malt backbone as you tip the glass back for the first sip. The first flavor to hit the tongue is a bitter citrus, almost lemon-like kick, some might call it grapefruit, and its typical of the hops used in American IPAs. Moylan's IPA is full-bodied, with a hefty amount of carbonation typical in the American version of the IPA. The second sip lets the malts share the stage a bit more, and besides the pine resin aftertaste typical of IPAs, a toasted nut malt flavor emerges. Extremely drinkable IPA, with enough restraint on the hops to keep you coming back for more, if you like hops.

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