Here we are in the final weeks of Unit 1 at Beer Hawk University. Before we leave the taproom for some of our favourite beer festivals, our Week 10 lesson is an in-depth look at two of the world's favourite styles--the American IPA and the Munich Helles. Let's take everything we've learned from the taproom and have a final taste! (Hint: it'll help on the quiz!)
Throughout Unit 1 we discussed the history of beer, how to best serve, pour and store a beer and what you're looking for when tasting. Here's a succinct look putting that all together for two famous beers which are the standard for their respective styles: Stone IPA and Augustiner Helles.
American IPA (India Pale Ale)
History of the Style:
The American style IPA is quite obviously a direct descendent of the English IPA. Anchor Liberty Ale is widely regarded as the first American IPA as well as single-hop IPA having been brewed exclusively with Cascade hops since 1975. The American IPA can lay claim to many other substyles including the Double IPA, Black IPA or even Rye IPA.
The American style of the India Pale Ale is most known for being hop-forward with assertive bitterness. American IPAs generally display American or other new world hop varietals which present citrus, pine, floral and spice characteristics. It is generally medium-bodied with a moderate maltiness and a clean, dry and lingering bitter finish.
Stone Brewing Company--Berlin
Golden colour, medium white head that leaves a bit of lacing, mostly clear.
Classic American hop aromas of pine, grapefruit, citrus and fruity hops. Some caramel and toast notes from the malts.
Similar flavours as on the nose: intense notes of pine, grapefruit and grass. Nice sweet maltiness with an assertive bitterness.
Medium-bodied with a creamy carbonation. Finishes dry with a long, lingering bitterness.
The Stone (Berlin) IPA is as classic as it gets for an American IPA. This is a clean beer that maximises the American hop profile and really packs a punch at the end. Not very sessionable due to its intensity and 6.9%ABV but definitely a fantastic beer to enjoy again and again.
Pint glass or mug
Max Length of Storage:
The Munich Helles was first brewed at Munich's Spaten brewery in 1894 as an answer to the ever-increasing popularity of the Pilsener. It is arguably, to this day, the most popular style in Germany.
The Munich Helles is most often crystal clear (although some are some served rather cloudy in Germany and still called "Helles"). The word helles means "light" and thus this lager is pale in colour. It has a fabulously clean malt profile that is balanced out by spicy/floral noble hops with a lovely balancing bitterness.
Augustiner-Brau Wagner KG
Light-golden, almost straw colour with a small, dense head. Very clear.
Grainy, bready malts with a hint of herbs and florals.
Again, more grains and white bread with a bit of biscuity malts. Florals and grass give way to a bit of spicy bitterness. Very clean.
Medium-light body with moderate carbonation. Clean, somewhat dry finish. Rather crisp and refreshing.
This is clearly one of the quintessential Munich Helles. It is highly drinkable and thirst quenching. This style is not one that epic poems are written about but if one ever needed a hero, the Augustiner Helles would be it.
Pilsener glass, Mug or Stein
So there we go. We have spent the last 10 weeks getting deep into how to enjoy beer at your favourite taproom. Taking a look at the history of a beer and how the style, in and of itself, is defined helps us to enjoy each sip--when properly served--just that much more! As you endeavour out into the beery world and into your favourite beer festivals, try to do a bit of research into the style, the brewery and the history. We think it makes it all taste better that way!
We'll see you back here next week as we summarise and review everything we have gone over in Unit 1. It's almost quiz time! But, hey, it's about beer. So it's a very delicious quiz. Cheers!
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