I believe in IPA

May 3, 2011

Hhhlagunitasipa_blog

Of all the beer out there, India Pale Ale is my favorite variety. That said, I could really just stop writing now. At the very least, you could stop reading now, because this will be one of those miscellaneous, rambling entries.

Several months ago, I came across the iPhone app Untappd. I was (relatively) thrilled to find a check-in service that is actually relevant to me. I’m not a complete loser—I have accounts on Gowalla and FourSquare. Is that how FourSquare spells it? Capital F, Capital S, no space? I don’t even know. That’s how much it means to me. But I don’t really have friends in town who I do things with often enough to embrace what those apps are all about. And of those few friends, even fewer use Gowalla or FourSquare. So they basically mean nothing to me. But I’ll still check in on Gowalla, because you find and trade virtual items, and to keep myself interested (because, even though I don’t have a lot of friends, I’m still hip to the intertubes and want to be able to say that I do these things) I’ve made it my goal to find ones that are numbered under 10,000.

But I digress.

I like Untapped because I like beer, and it’s a beer check-in app. Just like any other check-in app, you have your circle of friends and you can earn badges for particular accomplishments, though on Untappd some of them are not ones you’d necessarily want to aspire to perhaps, such as the “Drinking Your Paycheck” badge. Though it has social elements, it’s main focus is not and that works for me.

So back to IPAs. I didn’t used to love them so much, or at all, but in the last four or five years (I might even be able to pinpoint it to when I drank Lagunitas IPA in the Red Jack Saloon in San Francisco Thanksgiving weekend 2007) I’ve jumped on the hopwagon with gusto. For example, my ex-beer guru (sorry, Chris, I think you’ve been superseded by Tyler, who has the advantage of being the beer-loving manager of my neighborhood liquor store) has loved Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale since I’ve known him. I remember tasting it, say, ten years ago and giving it a firm “ewwwwwww.” Now? It’s my very favorite beer.

Ipagroup_blog

What happened? Based on anecdotal evidence, I can pinpoint that, too. I turned forty. And then some. And how did I learn this anecdotal evidence? From Larry Bell, brewer of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, the extra hoppy IPA that we Minnesotans are his best market for. In conversation the evening I had the opportunity to meet him, he let loose the information that (apparently) hops—the driving force behind IPAs—contain some amount of estrogen. Ergo the transitive property, I, a woman over forty, love IPA because it is a form of estrogen replacement therapy. I know I’m overblowing this, but work with me.

So back to Untappd. They struck a deal with Hoptopia, the ultimate lover of IPAs, to have a monthly IPA badge if you drink three of the beers on the latest list during the current month.

The first month, January, it was easy for me to earn the level 1 badge. I drank the aforementioned Bell’s Two Hearted, Sierra Nevada Torpedo, and New Belgium Ranger IPA, all known favorites and readily available in this market. Then,  it kind of didn’t make it back into my radar until yesterday, when the new list was published. My, how far we’ve come since that first month, when there were only five IPAs on the list. This month there are, oh I don’t know, a billion.

I could have taken the easy way out and repurchased ones I know I like because I‘ve already had them—Boulevard Single Wide, Great Lakes Commodore Perry, Lagunitas, Odell, Southern Tier, Surly Furious.

Badgeipas_blog

But when visiting Tyler’s store after work tonight, I chose to embrace the spirit of the badge and purchased the four pictured above that are unknown to me. I don’t know if the Avery Maharaja counts as the Avery IPA, but the other three will count. With beer, as with food, I endeavor to expand my horizons.

Tonight I consumed the Rogue Brutal (I could take it or leave it) and the Alaskan IPA (very tasty indeed). And that’s as good a conclusion as I have.

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