Chances are, you’ve never heard of IPA Day. If you have, chances are you already miss it. One day, each year, created for IPA fans. It’s completely made up but, really. The best holidays always are.
IPA Day is a pseudo-holiday created for hop-lovers from all corners of the beer-drinking world. It’s anti-corporate, which you probably could have guessed based on the number of true IPAs on the corporate market. (Hint: zero.) But it’s a holiday all the same, and it’s a reason to spend some of summer’s hottest days kicking back with one of Empirical England’s greatest inventions.
For the uninitiated - or, let’s be honest, for those who really haven’t bothered to care about distinct beer styles - we should dive into a little history.
India pale ales (IPA) are the style name for a type of beer once designed exclusively for export to India. The British, who had yet to allow George Harrison to steal India’s sitar sound, were focused in the 18th century on sending highly hopped beers to India to appease Indian taste buds. Rumors and revisionist history claim that the hops in an IPA allowed it to last longer during a grueling 18-month trip, or that non-IPAs would be poured out on the coast of Calcutta. None of those are probably true. It simply comes down to a matter of taste.
It’s not just an India thing, either. Turns out, Brits loved the stuff. They demanded more. These highly hopped pale ales - now named “India pale ales” - became widely desired. For a country that’s lauded for their bland cooking, Brits certainly looked the other way when it came to beer.
Most of the IPAs you’re familiar with in the United States are probably what Beer Advocate classifies as an “American IPA”. The difference is the origin of the hops - United States, naturally - and a more bitter taste than the English IPA, which is significantly less hoppy and more, I don’t know, BRITISH I guess.
(This, of course, doesn’t even take into account the Imperial IPA, which is a much hoppier and boozier version of your standard IPA. Go ahead and get your Beer Judge Certification and explain to me the difference between the three - I’ll be content with a vague understanding of American and English IPAs and the assurance that an Imperial IPA will send in the clowns at a much faster rate.)
In celebration of hops’ only holiday, Mrs. Beer Critic brought home a four-pack of Odell Brewing’s Myrcenary, a double pale ale that, at 9.3% ABV, certainly qualifies as an Imperial Pale Ale.
If you’re looking for the Inside Baseball stuff, I can tell you that Myrcenary is assembled with ingredients that contain high levels of Myrcene, an essential oil found in hops, ylang-ylang and lemongrass. Sounds fancy, sure, but it tastes delicious.
I’ll tell you right now that, as an unabashed Odell IPA fan, Myrcenary is delicious. I’ll admit: that’s not a objective statement. I love this brewery, and I love this beer. Be warned - it’s wonderful, but it’s heavy. You can’t drink more than two in a sitting without wandering over to the stereo and rifling through your old college records. Not that you’d notice - for a “big beer,” Myrcenary is surprisingly drinkable. You won’t come out of this with a mouth full of booze, that’s for sure. (I can’t promise you won’t break out your old R.E.M. records, though.)
Here’s something else that tastes delicious: good design. As someone who has a hard time purchasing Grand Teton Brewing beers because of their dated and horrible design, I always seem to fall in love with Odell’s labels.
Myrcenary’s label - a three-wheeler, bursting across the bottle with a bag of fresh hops flying behind it - is not only beautiful, but it’s fitting. IPAs are defined by their hops, and a well-crafted hop flavor crashes through your palate like Myrcenary’s runaway hop-wagon, scattering floral aromas and bitterness throughout your mouth. You can get cleaner. You can get more bitter. You can even get less hoppy.
But there’s no doubt that Myrcenary raises the flag for its fellow IPAs just enough that we can all toast to an imaginary holiday and say, “Happy IPA Day.”
Today’s tab: Myrcenary Double India Pale Ale - 9.3% ABV Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO