History of the American IPA?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by AugustusRex, Nov 17, 2015.

  1. AugustusRex

    AugustusRex Initiate (0) Apr 12, 2013 Ontario (Canada)

    How did the modern IPA evolve into what it is today? I know Ballantine was available until the mid 70s, but I have no idea how it compares with IPAs today.

    Please fill in the gaps about the other big name beers.

    (Ballantine, -> Liberty Ale, -> Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, -> ... -> Blind Pig??, -> what else?)
  2. HorseheadsHophead

    HorseheadsHophead Meyvn (1,470) Sep 15, 2014 New York

    The introduction of Stone IPA in '97 is, as far as I know, what the set the staple of the bitter, piney, "West Coast style" IPA.
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  3. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,344) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Ballantine India Pale Ale was brewed and marketed until the mid-1990s, having been brewed by Falstaff - which bought the Ballantine labels in 1972 - in Cranston, Ft. Wayne and finally in Milwaukee at the Pabst brewery (closed in '96). Pabst was bought by Falstaff's owner, S&P Corp. in the mid-1980s - making Pabst's recent PR that often discounts or ignores the Falstaff's versions of BIPA somewhat amusing.

    Also to be taken with that same grain of salt most beer promotional material deserves, their recent claim that "Ballantine IPA was the only American-made beer that successfully continued the tradition of the 19th century IPAs after the repeal of Prohibition" is nonsense (well, I suppose their out is the use of the word "successfully") - there were at least 2 dozen other IPA's from various US brewers in the post-Repeal period, and well over 50 "Stock Ales" - a broader "style" which included India pale ale by that period in US brewing. Some brewers used the terms interchangeably.

    Of the latter beers, both Genesee 12 Horse Ale and Rainier Ale were still being brewed into the "craft era". Rainier had been dumbed down/"malt liquored" considerably over the years (in the 1970s when still brewed by Rainier it still maintained some semblance to an strong, hoppy amber ale. Sadly, Genesee's ale was much reduced in ibu's and abv by the '70s and, by the end of that decade, was sadly reformulated into a "Canadian" style golden ale.

    It is pretty well established that the first "craft" beer labeled "India Pale Ale" was Bert Grant's India Pale Ale in 1983 from his Yakima Brewing & Malting Co. It was 5% abv and had 50-60 ibu's using Galena hops for bitterness and Cascade for aroma. Michael Jackson wrote that it had "...an immense hop character, especially in its long finish..."(Pocket Guide to Beer, 1st ed. [1986])

    Stone's Mitch Steele's IPA contains much info on the IPA's of the US craft era (and a couple of errors :wink:).
  4. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,505) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Premium Trader

    SN Celebration has to be thrown in the mix as well. In fact,there were quite a few hoppy beers that didn't self identify as IPAs but could have been considered one in the early 90s. If you were home brewing beers like that, you essentially had to enter them as an IPA, so you gradually started to see the style pop up on commercial versions.

    The much maligned (among the modern geekerie )Harpoon IPA was among the first of those, and on the west coast Bridge Port was another. These were from 1994 to 1995.

    The funny thing about the time period was that many BJCP judges viewed IPA as an English style, so the new category of American IPA was eventually added. Today, too many people see the English style as irrelevant.
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  5. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Champion (855) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    If you were new to IPAs (or "craft" beer in general) and someone gave you some IPAs brewed with say Galaxy/Mosaic/Citra...etc., would you choose that, or the IPAs brewed with Fuggles and East Kent Goldings?
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  6. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,505) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Premium Trader

    I'd take a piney /citrusy one over either of them. :wink: These tropical fruit bombs are nice from time to time, but put too much emphasis on immediate impact and have little to no real complexity to be all that interesting in the long run. I get your point, though, that the newer "craft " drinkers are conditioned to value immediate impact over all else.
  7. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,104) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    There's a blast from the past I'd nearly forgotten. What a great beer, had it in Portland at the brew-pub my first time around those dates... pretty sure Jackson was in-house enjoying it too!
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  8. ericwo

    ericwo Initiate (87) Aug 21, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Mitch Steele wrote a book called "IPA" that gives a good history of the evolution of IPA, from it's origins to what it is today. It's a good read.
  9. HuskyHawk

    HuskyHawk Disciple (396) Jun 5, 2014 Massachusetts

    Harpoon was the first brewer I had experience with that had an IPA as their flagship beer. Arguably SNPA is an IPA as well however. Harpoon remains a well made, arguably English style IPA, it isn't trying to be a DDH Trillium offering. Fresh from the Brewery its a darned good beer really.

    Even Free State Brewing in Lawrence, KS was making Copperhead Pale Ale (called an IPA on BA) back in 1991. So I am sure a lot of people were making them around that time.
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  10. BeerVikingSailor

    BeerVikingSailor Crusader (713) Nov 19, 2009 Ohio

    Here you go

    Anchor Liberty Ale


    First brewed in 1975 - 40 years ago this year

    As far as I know, first single hop / dry hopped IPA on the market (Cascade hops), and still an amazing beer!

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  11. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,525) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    OP was referring to the style American IPA, right? Not IPAs that happened to be brewed in US. Some of the posts above don't seem to be discussing examples of the American IPA.

    I don't have the answer but I do recall seeing growth of them after Stone IPA hit the market in the 90's. I also remember drinking Bell's Two Hearted and others late 90's.

    Now that I think of it, I thought that Stone normally got credit for this... no?
  12. bluehende

    bluehende Poo-Bah (2,048) Dec 10, 2010 Delaware

    I always enjoy your insights. You need to teach an online course in beer history. Now I know why I enjoyed that Genesee 12 Horse Ale.
    JLaw55 likes this.
  13. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,713) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I agree with @BeerVikingSailor with his post about Anchor Liberty Ale.

    I think Mitch Steele discussed this well on page. 144 of his IPA book: “Although Anchor never officially called Liberty Ale an IPA, it was the first American IPA in every sense since Ballantine IPA, which by 1975 was a shell of its former self.”

  14. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,505) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Premium Trader

    Stone, Blind Pig et. al. would be part of the third wave, imo.

    1st is Liberty, Grants, Celebration. The pioneers.

    2nd is the initial craft boom era. Harpoon, Bridge Port, many brew pubs.

    3rd would be after the substyle is recognized by the BJCP and others (mid to late 90s ).
  15. LuskusDelph

    LuskusDelph Aspirant (246) May 1, 2008 New Jersey

    I don't know how old Mitch is, but he's certainly dead wrong about BIPA being a "shell of it's former self by 1975". Falstaff may have made a few tweaks along the way, but the quality and character of BIPA was actually pretty well maintained until at least the early to mid 1980s. It really took a nosedive near the end of the Narraganset period and was a different beer when Narraganset closed and production was moved to Ft. Wayne.

    Ironic, too...if they had maintained the character of the Newark and early Narraganset versions, it could have competed very well with the best of the craft efforts that were then appearing.
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  16. zid

    zid Savant (918) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    From Michael Jackson's "Beer Companion":

    "Anchor is justifiably proud to have introduced [Liberty] as early as 1975, because that places it first among the new generation of American ales, ahead of the microbrewery movement. [...] Unlike most British ales (which tend to have a small proportion of invert sugar), Anchor Liberty is an all-malt brew. [...] The most important difference, though, is hop character. [...] Anchor Liberty positively blossoms with American hops [...] British influence and American pride have in the years since continued to mingle on the West Coast [...] These elements have been the parents of a whole generation of new American ales [...]"

    From Terry Foster's 2nd Ed of "Pale Ale":

    "Although considered by many to be an IPA, Liberty Ale actually represented a new style of the beer. This was because it was aggressively hopped with American Cascades which gave the beer a very distinctive, floral character. [...] Liberty Ale could be regarded as simply carrying on the Burton tradition - recall that Bass used considerable amounts of American hops in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. However, these hops would have been mainly from the East Coast, probably New York (as would those Ballantine used originally). Also, they probably would have been more like English hops, such as Northern Brewer and Bramling Cross, although as I said earlier in the chapter, their black currant flavor was not English. They would almost certainly not have been anything like Cascades, which was not developed and grown in the American Northwest until well into this century. It is the use of American hops, and Cascades in particular, that defines the new American IPA style, even though many such beers are truer to the original than modern English beers under that name, American IPA has become a style all its own or at least a substyle of pale ale, for Liberty Ale was followed by others in a similar vein. In 1981, brewer Bert Grant took a step in a different direction, with an IPA from Yakima Brewing Company. This beer supposedly was based on historical data and brewed in the style of an original IPA. [...] Also in 1981 came the founding of the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and the subsequent production of its pale ale."

    So, while Liberty Ale wouldn't be confused with some newer American IPAs that provide a very different experience (so much so, that some don't view Liberty as an IPA), that doesn't mean that it doesn't represent an American break from tradition. Of course, the name (Liberty) and origin itself symbolizes this - as a commemoration of Paul Revere's ride... and with it's inspiration coming from Maytag's investigations of British ale.
  17. oldbean

    oldbean Aspirant (272) Jun 30, 2005 Massachusetts

    As always, people who have different preferences are foolish and wrong.
  18. vabeerguy

    vabeerguy Poo-Bah (1,833) Sep 21, 2015 Virginia

    Brought back some fond memories (and some not so fond). Forgot about the Falstaff brand. Did not know until the other day that Ballentine was still in business. I would like to try their IPA if I can find it.
  19. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,713) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I have no idea how old Mitch Steele is. I personally have never tasted Ballantine IPA of the past (I have only tasted the new version which is available now) so I have no opinion of Ballantine IPA of 1975 vs. other time periods.

    I sent to Mitch Steele both a bottle of contemporary Ballantine IPA and the version of Ballantine IPA brewed by Smuttynose which was labeled as Cluster’s Last Stand (based upon a recipe formulated by Bill Pierce and published in BYO magazine). Mitch posted about his impressions of those two beers:

    “Thanks to Jack for sending me samples. I also did a side by side tasting and found my impressions to be very similar to Jack's. I like both beers, but they are quite different. The Ballantine tastes pretty updated as far as the hop profile. It's a good IPA, with layers of different hop flavors, one I wouldn't hesitate to order. The Cluster's Last Stand tastes as I remember...a bit of a throwback to the early hoppy craft beers-which makes it fun.”


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  20. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,344) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Uh, "Ballantine" - the brewing company - is not still in business. They closed in 1972. :slight_frown:Their brands were then purchased by Falstaff and came under the Pabst umbrella when parent company S&P Corp. folded all their beer brands (Falstaff, Naragansett, Pearl, General/Lucky (and many others), Ballantine, etc.) under the better know "Pabst Brewing Co." by the late 1990s.

    By that time the other Ballantine beers (Ballantine Lager Beer, IPA, Bock, Munich, Twisted Red Ale, Brewers Gold Ale, etc.) were gone, leaving only Ballantine XXX Ale as the (barely) surviving beer, until the recent revival of the IPA and Burton ales by Pabst.
  21. donspublic

    donspublic Poo-Bah (1,608) Aug 4, 2014 Texas
    Premium Trader

    Not to out Mitch but his creds show he graduated from UC Davis in 84, do the math
  22. vabeerguy

    vabeerguy Poo-Bah (1,833) Sep 21, 2015 Virginia

    Thanks! I must have misread a post from the other day. Not the first time and certainly will not the last time.
    I do have an interest in the breweries of old especially from the northeast. I remember Ballentine, Shafer (sp?), Schmidt, Reingold, and I am sure there are more.
  23. BeerVikingSailor

    BeerVikingSailor Crusader (713) Nov 19, 2009 Ohio

    No...see my post about Anchor Liberty Ale - from 1975 - long before Stone was even around
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  24. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,344) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    All gone, closed during the "beer wars" era of the 1970-1980s. All the brands, save but one, now under the "Pabst" umbrella - Schaefer and Schmidt's of Phila. by their purchasing the bulk of the Stroh-Heileman portfolio in 1999.

    Rheingold being the one that got away - sold by Stroh to a contract-brewing group that included the original Liebmann family with help from Joe Owades and since then has gone through several failed attempts at a revival (and probably no longer partially Liebmann-owned). The last version was brewed in Mexico by "US Drinks" [which also marketed Trump Vodka and Willie Nelson's Old Whiskey River Bourbon :rolling_eyes:] - a sad end (or is it?) to a Brooklyn classic.
    Well, there once were more :wink: - NY and PA were among the largest brewing states in the country. Not many pre-craft breweries left - Straub, The Lion, Yuengling, F X Matt and Genesee.
  25. vabeerguy

    vabeerguy Poo-Bah (1,833) Sep 21, 2015 Virginia

    Thanks for the info. You bring up names and brands I have forgotten. I went to college somewhat close to Yuengling so I had my fair share of their brew. I still occasionally buy their products. I am reading a book titled Richmond Beer and it states that Yuengling opened a brewery in Richmond soon after the civil war.
  26. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Champion (835) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    Garrett Oliver, I once read said that most new IPAs aren't IPAs at all and should be named California Ales.
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  27. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,713) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Oh boy, based upon the 'activity' in the thread entitled New England IPAs I can't even imagine at level of 'activity' if somebody started a thread on this topic.:grimacing:


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  28. zid

    zid Savant (918) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    ... or "San Diego pale ales." I don't really understand the attraction to this naming convention. I always wondered if Oliver feels the same way now. Is it really less problematic?
    dennis3951 likes this.
  29. Starkbier

    Starkbier Initiate (73) Sep 19, 2002 Maryland

    For the modern era, its was Liberty followed by Celebration. Celebration was seasonal so Bob Tupper had Dominion create Tuppers Hop Pocket Ale which was pretty close to an IPA in the early 90s. Victory HopDevil preceded Stone IPA by about a year. Grants is noteworthy but also a different breed in ABV. Cheers, Jim
  30. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,713) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Jim, thanks for answering the question.

    This thread can now be ended.

  31. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Champion (835) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    I had Tuppers Hop Pocket Ale way back when good stuff.
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  32. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Champion (835) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    I think Oliver just thought the beers were different enough from IPAs that they should have their own name.
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  33. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,713) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Back in the day Tupper's Hop Pocket Pils was a favorite of mine!!

    It was also a favorite of Michael Jackson: http://beerhunter.com/documents/19133-001726.html

  34. Leebo

    Leebo Initiate (0) Feb 7, 2013 Massachusetts

    How can an IPA brewed in the USA be anything other than an American style IPA? Maybe not quite following you. See above, Anchor, SN, and Harpoon.
  35. AugustusRex

    AugustusRex Initiate (0) Apr 12, 2013 Ontario (Canada)

    By not being an American IPA. :rolling_eyes:
  36. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,713) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    US craft breweries produce English style IPAs. They use British malt, British hops and British ale yeast strains to make these beers.

    One example is Berkshire Brewing Lost Sailor IPA: http://www.berkshirebrewingcompany.com/beers/lost-sailor-ipa/

    There are other examples.

  37. marquis

    marquis Crusader (760) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    But what eactly does constitute an IPA ? The name has an obvious derivation but just as a 19th century ship was nothing like a present day one neither does a present day IPA have to be like its forebears. Nobody is brewing an IPA remotely like one from 1840 ,fermented to dryness , exposed to Brett , warm aged and using different malt and yeast strains.Even during Victoria's reign they changed , the effect of two World Wars and changing public tastes modified them still further .But they were still named IPA.
    Will the real IPA please stand ?
  38. Starkbier

    Starkbier Initiate (73) Sep 19, 2002 Maryland

    Back in the day, John Mallet (Bells) and Ron Barchet (Victory) developed Hop Pocket Ale, then after John left Ron was asked to develop the Pils. Good memories zwickling off the tanks at Old Dominion in the early 90s. Those days also had Rob Mullin (Grand Teton) taking over when Ron left to start Victory. Lots of good brewers started out under Jerry Bailey.
  39. lic217

    lic217 Champion (826) Aug 10, 2010 Connecticut

    It took m a couple of years to figure this out, but I agree with you. The juice bombs are great, but I really like the piney/citrus IPAs now that have a nice compliment of malt (like celebration for example) and a nice clean bitterness.
  40. LordCrabapple

    LordCrabapple Initiate (0) Sep 5, 2006 United Kingdom (England)

    I would say that if it is made in America it is American.