I must say that being an analytical chemist, I can’t help but think of isopropyl alcohol every time I see the abbreviation IPA. But this post is not about that common laboratory chemical that also finds its way into our homes as rubbing alcohol. No, this post is about the IPA one would find in a beer establishment—India Pale Ale.
For all of my adult life, I have loved the taste of beer and have enjoyed trying many different varieties of brews. Based on my tasting experiences, I had come to prefer certain styles of flavorful beers. But it is my brother I have to thank for pointing out the finer points of IPAs. And since that time, an IPA is my first choice when scanning a beer menu; in fact, whenever we eat out, it is usually the list of beers I explore first before perusing the food menu.
IPA is not a beer for everyone—it is definitely not your Dad’s beer if his preferred brand was one of the major US breweries. Anyone who has ever tried an IPA for the first time knows; it takes an acquired taste to appreciate this beer.
But what would you expect from a beer that is measured in large numbers of IBUs—International Bitterness Units? IPAs are often known by the varieties of hops and barleys used to brew them. And because so many unique tastes can be achieved with these two ingredients, it is a popular beer for microbreweries to brew.
On a recent trip to Seattle, I had the opportunity to try a number of really good beers. For a beer connoisseur, Seattle is an ideal destination with so many microbreweries concentrated in the area—one of my main reasons for wanting to take a vacation there. My wife and daughter have each posted about some of the fun times we had on this trip on their own blog sites (MindfulMagpie and Krug the Thinker). My post will focus on the beer I had.
Our trip was relatively short; we arrived on a Wednesday afternoon and left early on a Monday morning. But I managed to hit a brewpub every day, and sometimes two in one day thanks to my daughter’s research before we got there and my wife’s willingness to eat many of our meals at brewpubs.
The first night we walked to Rock Bottom Brewery and obviously I had their IPA. What better way to end a long travel day than a good dinner and beer?
The next day on our way to the Boeing plant and museum, my daughter found a microbrewery where we could eat lunch before our tour. I recall that beer not being so great, but that is the price of constantly trying new beers; you won’t discover really great ones without encountering some dogs. Then after the tour and before we went to a great dinner at Delancey, we stopped at another microbrewery, Scuttlebutt, overlooking the water.
For dinner we, went to the Tap House, technically not a brewpub but nonetheless an establishment high on my list with its 160 different beers on tap. And what a surprise when we came down the stairs to find a sign that read “IPA Week”—heaven!
For this special occasion, they had a separate beer menu just for the IPA beers.
I sent this picture to my brother on the East coast and true to form, he immediately texted me back with his recommendations. I can’t even recall which one (or two) I selected but the greatest thrill was as we leaving and taking my photo next to the IPA week sign, the manger invited me into the keg room. I didn’t want to leave.
On Saturday, we explored the Fremont area of Seattle. While my wife explored the small shops and bookstores there, I prepared myself for my next brewpub, Fremont Brewing Company.
Truly a beer garden that did not serve food, we bought sandwiches to take and have with our beers. Whether or not it was the atmosphere, the wonderful company I had, or the gorgeous weather we had, this was probably the best IPA I had on the trip. By the front door, there is a cheering section where customers sit and drink and cheer you when you come in the door and boo you when you leave, unless of course you take their picture as you exit. My greatest regret leaving was knowing I couldn’t get this beer in my own town. I would have to come back…
Our last night in Seattle, we made it to yet another establishment that boasted 100+ beers on tap, the Yard House. As usual, I perused the beer menu first before thinking about food. Making my selection, I could sit back knowing I had accomplished one of my main goals in coming to Seattle—visiting lots of brewpubs/bars and having a huge selection of IPAs that I couldn’t get in my own home town. My wife and daughter had been really good sports about eating in all of these brewpubs—I wonder if they would be willing to come back to Seattle to explore other microbreweries?