Why IPA is the real ‘king of the beers’

Beers produced locally are for sale at Beer Central in the Moor Market
Beers produced locally are for sale at Beer Central in the Moor Market

‘What does IPA stand for?’ I was asked recently, by a less-than-discerning fellow bar propper, writes Kevin Meagher. 

IPA. Indian Pale Ale. The King of Beers.  

A stronger, hoppier beer originally brewed to withstand exporting on long sea voyages to, well, India, from the 1830s onwards. 

The story goes that merchants from the East India Company started exported the stuff to great acclaim and the taste for lighter but stronger beer then caught on back home.

The IPA is, in my humble opinion, unsurpassable, combining texture and taste. Lighter in appearance and stronger than heavier ales, the style is responsible for the explosion of the craft beer revolution in recent years, with subtly different US variants. 

Anyway, there are always fabulous IPAs coming onto the market but I thought I would mention a few I’ve selflessly sampled recently.

‘Clawtrack’ from Buxton Brewery was a gem of a find a few weeks ago at the ever-excellent Beer Central on the Moor Market. My goodness, what a beer this is. 

A 6.8% beauty. Taste, body, subtly and strength. Hoppy and flavoursome. A veritable ‘must-drink.’

Another favourite is ‘Fantasma’ from Huddersfield’s stupendous Magic Rock Brewery. A 6.5% masterpiece with strong fruit flavours balanced with a dank bitterness. It’s also gluten-free and available from their online shop.

Orange Milkshake (no, stay with me) from the Mobberley Brewhouse over in Cheshire is another winner. Light colour, gorgeous texture. At 5.5%, it’s very hoppy, with subtle orange notes. Big flavour but dry aftertaste. 

Neepsend Brew Co also has a very nice 5.5% zesty ‘Citra IPA’ which is available from the brewery in Kelham Island at their monthly tap room openings where the beer is brewed feet from where its sold. (Check out their website to find out when).