Thursday, 4 August 2011
Cheers to International IPA Day
What a great opportunity to take stock. What a smart use of social media.
Two tweeters decided it might be a nice idea to get the online beer community to have a global celebration of the craft beer world's favourite beer style, and the day was set for today, 4th August.
As far as I can tell there is no central organisational structure, no big budget or organisation, and yet it's an idea that has caught the imaginations of beer lovers and gone global.
So what are we supposed to do? What actually happens? That's up to you. It's up to breweries, pubs and drinkers to organise tastings, drinking, events, whatever really. A quick google search shows that many people across the planet have taken up the challenge.
Why IPA? It's a perfect meme for every aspect of beer appreciation. It's a definable style - even though that definition mutates continually over time. It has a long, deeply chronicled history - and that history has given birth to more myths, mythbusting, speculation, misinterpretation and debate than anything else in beer. It's a perfect showcase for hops - the facet of beer that craft drinkers get most excited about. And it's the style that caught the imagination of the US craft beer movement, that symbolises it. It's the constant across the many styles craft brewers brew, a shop window for their craft. The union of a traditional old-style IPA recipe and the tropical orchard of flavours and aromas bestowed by New World hops lit a fire in craft brewing that's now burning world over.
For me, my first taste of an American IPA was the equivalent of my first taste of a real curry: it was like tasting in colour for the first time, as if everything I'd tasted before was black and white. From there it became an obsession that would profoundly change my life. In 2007 I embarked on a mission to recreate IPA's historic voyage from Burton to India around the Cape of Good Hope for the first time since 1869. My attempt to recreate the effects of the journey was partially successful, as was my attempt to write the most thorough, detailed history of IPA to date. Neither of these partial successes has stopped the arguments, the mythbuilding and busting, the speculation, and that's entirely how it should be.
The resulting book, Hops & Glory, moved me up a big notch in my career, earned me the Beer Writer of the Year gong, and to date represents the best writing I can do. I can never look at IPA the same way again.
Tonight, my contribution to the celebrations is that I'll be tweeting from a 6-course IPA day feast at the Dean Swift, London SE1. It's a lovely little pub run by passionate, knowledgable people, and they've pulled together what looks to be an amazing menu, which I'm not allowed to share. If you want to know how that goes, follow @PeteBrownBeer on Twitter from 7pm UK time.
And raise a glass to the world's most talked about beer style, and the people who have harnessed the power of social media to celebrate it in such a great way.
I promise I will go back ranting and/or trying to be funny after this post.