Friday, March 29, 2013

Dan's Beer Blog: East End Brewing Company Big Hop IPA

By Dan Cummins

As recently as the 90's there were television commercials depicting the horrors of “bitter beer face.” Since that distant and primitive time, American beer drinkers have come to love hops, the ingredient in beer that is responsible for its bitterness. Many different varieties have grown into prominence among brewers and each imparts its own unique flavor and aroma to beer. Over the years, brewers have become increasingly adept at mixing and matching different hops to balance their beverages.

The IPA, or India Pale Ale, is perhaps the most famous example of a “bitter” beer. As a style of beer it is a relative newcomer, being first brewed in England in the 19th century. Traditionally the story tells of English citizens and soldiers in the colony of India craving the beer of their homeland. Attempts to bring beer along the long voyage from England to India proved disastrous, until it was fortuitously discovered that the prodigious addition of hops to beer acted as a natural preservative. These “India Ales” proved popular for the English both at home and abroad.
John Enjoying a Big Hop Draft

The major producers of IPAs in the world have remained England and the United States, and the style has split into three main varieties, English, East Coast, and West Coast. The differences between them are the balance between the hop flavors and the malt present in the beer, with English IPAs being the most “malty,” West Coast IPAs being the most “hoppy,” and East Coast IPAs being somewhere in between.

East End Big Hop is a very good example of an East Coast IPA. The strong malt flavors provide a backbone for the bitter hops to play against. The floral hop notes found in West Coast IPAs are much more subdued creating a well balanced and flavorful beer that is exceptionally drinkable. The East End brewing company is also based right downtown, perhaps surprisingly in the East End. They are huge supporters of the community and focus on sustainability in their brewery. Any chance to drink a good local beer is always recommended and these guys deliver in spades.

As the reader might expect from a drink named for its association with India, an IPA pairs exceedingly well with spicy foods. Big Hop has enough malt backbone to be a great companion to most dishes, but sitting it next to some spicy hot wings, chile rellenos, or a piece of chorizo will really bring out the flavors of both.

East End Big Hop Drafts Now Available at the Franklin Inn
Style: American IPA
ABV: 5.8%
BA Score: 87
Malt: Pale, Munich, Crystal, Wheat
Hops: Centennial, Cascade

About Dan: Shortly after turning 21, Dan famously quipped to friends that he "just didn't like beer very much."  Nearly ten years later Dan has parlayed that general dislike into a passion for the juice of the barley.  He admits that he is no expert, but is more than willing to share with our visitors the knowledge he has gained from sampling hundreds of beers from around the world, visiting breweries, and even making home brews.  Dan has a degree in technical theater from Slippery Rock University and is a relative new comer to the Franklin Inn but we hope he sticks around for awhile. Stop by the Inn and let Dan know your thoughts on his beer choices. He'll be happy to chat with you.

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