Before taking a sip of this newly launched beer from 961, I just want to reconfirm that, indeed, we do have amazing beers in Lebanon which are truly up to international standards following European regulations. Today, I grabbed one of the very few still available bottles of the American IPA (American India Pale Ale) in the market - a limited edition bottle which has been produced by 961 Beer to celebrate America's 4th of July.
America is the birthplace of the craft beer movement and IPA, India Pale Ale, is the flagship beer of the movement. As is true about many things in America, 961 Beer’s version of IPA is bigger, bolder and simply contains more stuff: more hops, more malt, more intensity and more flavor. 961 Beer’s American IPA is not your weekend at the beach beer, it’s not your grandfather’s beer; it’s real beer and it's made in Lebanon.
I have to admit that this beer is indeed unique. Produced with passion, every sip tells a story. It has nothing to do with the commercial bottles of beer we are used to drinking. 961's American IPA is to beer what an aged single malt is to whiskies. This product has a lot to say to connoisseurs out there.
To create the American IPA, four different kinds of hops have been added to the brewing process at four different intervals making each add a new flavor and a new story.
As soon as you open the bottle, a rich aroma dissipates around you, automatically activating all of your senses as it passes through your system from your nostrils. Fruits of all kinds with an unmatched freshness will just incite you to keep drinking deeper into the cup. A light gold color covered in rich pure white foam which takes time to disappear.... Expect to see some residues relaxing at the bottom, residues of the rich hops used to create such a wonder called American IPA by 961 Beer.
What are hops? Hops are used primarily as a flavoring and stability agent in beer, to which they impart a bitter, tangy flavor, though hops are also used for various purposes in other beverages and herbal medicine.
With 65 bitterness units, that's 6 times more than the commercial beer, the American IPA is not a beer for the faint hearted. Every sip starts with rich flavor of fruits provided by sugars, followed by the feel of the 6,2% alcohol and followed by a slight balanced bitter aftertaste delivered by the cocktail of hops used to finalize the tasting.
European Bitterness Units scale, often abbreviated as EBU, is a scale for measuring the perceived bitterness of beer, with lower values being generally "less bitter" and higher values "more bitter". The scale and method are defined by the European Brewery Convention, and the numerical value should be the same as of the International Bitterness Units scale (IBU), defined in co-operation with the American Society of Brewing Chemists. India Pale Ale has an interesting history. The story starts back in 1700’s when English soldiers stationed in India required beer to be shipped from England to India because the Indian climate is too hot to produce the main ingredients found in beer: malt and hops. Typical English Pale Ales were sent, but upon arrival in India they were discovered to be oxidized and sour tasting. To combat this problem, brewers in England began making their Pale Ales with more hops and more alcohol. Both hops and alcohol act as natural preservatives against spoilage. When the soldiers rotated back home to England, they found the traditional English Pale Ales to now be too mild and insipid. They demanded brewers to begin serving the ales destined for India at home as well. Thus creating a new
style of beer, India Pale Ale.
Flash forward 200 years to America of the late 70’s and early 80’s, the American beer scene had reached its nadir:
- There were less than 70 breweries left in the United States
- Most were producing light, fizzy, tasteless beer
- A small group of independent individuals working on their own started experimenting with making beer in their kitchens and garages because they couldn’t stand drinking the industrial watered down versions of beer
- Most had no training and very little experience with beer outside of America
- This lack of experience is what gave them the freedom to experiment and play around with different formulations and different techniques for making beer. For them, there were no rules
- What they discovered was that there was an incredibly large group of people out there who liked what they were making
- So they just kept pushing and pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable until they created: The American India Pale Ale.
More flavorful than English IPA, made with America Hops than tended to big herbal and strong citrus character, and a lot, a lot more bitter. They have never looked back since. There are now more than 2,700 breweries in America.