Well, to be precise, we went to University Night at The Growler Station here in Greenville, where the subject for the evening was IPAs. The class was led by GS' own beer-guru, "Big" Jon Richards who offered up 6 different versions of this wildly popular style, three of which were new to me. The lineup, listed as poured, consisted of the following:
1. Left Hand Brewing 400 lb Monkey; 6.8% ABV. Classic English style, which means
very little hop aroma in the nose, malt forward instead. Medium bodied, malt flavors
very present, but balanced with English Magnum, Boadicea and Sovereign
hops. Very refreshing and easy to drink. One of the new IPAs for me.
2. Stone IPA; 6.9% ABV. Jon considers this the epitome of the American style IPA. Hop-heavy
3. Foothill Jade; 7.4% ABV. Another new one for me and a new personal favorite. I liked this one a lot. Highly hopped with Pacific Jazz, a New Zealand hop then dry hopped with Cascade and Citra, this beer had a creamy body and rich, even sweet malty flavor to balance the intense piney, citrusy hop character. A winner. Not available in bottles, so no pic of this one.
4. Sierra Nevada Celebration; 6.8% ABV. One of the elders of American IPAs, brewed since 1981.
This beer was chosen for its "fresh hopped" character which uses whole flower Cascade, Centennial and Chinook hops added to the wort during fermentation. Aroma has hops but not overpowering considering the amount used, medium, creamy body with dry finish, but again, not over powered with hops, but very satisfying to us hop heads.
5. Victory Dirt Wolf; 8.7% ABV. Chosen to represent the "double" style of IPA, this one did not
6. Lagunitas Hop Stoopid; 8.0% ABV. Long time favorite of mine, this is an imperial version of IPA,
As the evening class came to a happy (hoppy?) close, it was clear that the IPA category covers a wide range of tastes and styles (didn't even mention Black or Rye IPAs) so there is certainly "something for everyone" if they are willing to expand their beer horizons and embrace newness. Sounds like me!