For a long time we have had the suspicion that there is a link between India Pale Ale and artistic creativity. Before you think we are a little loopy, let’s first look at a brief history of this fine beverage.
The British troops who were sent to India more then a century ago brought with them of course a good supply of their finest ale. However, due to the long voyage and relenting heat, sadly the ale had spoiled before it reached shore. So what did they do? Since hops are a natural preservative, they added double the amount of hops, and made a stronger ale (higher gravity, more alcohol) to survive the journey. Many months of aging in oak wooden casks made for an exceptional new style of robust ale.
A century later, in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, namely Seattle and Portland, this fine ale was re-invented, trading the classic British hops with the more assertive and bold American hops such as the citrus Cascade, and the grapefruity Chinook to create a hop lover’s dream. When we first traveled to Seattle in the early nineties we fell in love with IPAs. Each small brewery and brew pub set out to out-do the others in who would create the most hoppiest and complex IPAs. One of the best at the time was the cask-conditioned Pike Place Brewery (now The Pike Brewery) India Pale Ale.
Interestingly we began to notice that good conversation accompanied a good IPA. The more hoppy the IPA the more creative and artistically inspired we felt (yes, even more so than espresso). It seemed that an IPA always was surrounded by creative and passionate people. Could this be just a coincidence, or was something less obvious at work here? Is it simply due to the fact that the IPA is usually the brew master's most creative and passionate beer that he produces, and so this in turn attracts an equally passionate creative patron? Or is it the fact that no other beer causes such an extreme reaction in its tasters, ranging from “hate” to “euphoria”? Or could it possibly be the lupilin effect?
Lupilin is one of the principal ingredients of hops, and the vine itself is a distant relative of the cannabis plant. It is no surprise then that lupilin has a mild sedative-like effect on the central nervous system, and is often used us a natural remedy for sleep disorders. Reportedly one interesting side effect is that it increases vivid dream activity. Could lupilin be responsible for the hordes of passionate hopheads that seek ever-higher levels of hops in their IPAs? Is that perhaps why the conversations around a pint of IPA more often than not burst with creativity? That is for you to decide.
We urge you to see if you are a hophead (you either are or are not) by seeking out some local examples in your area. Stay original… be creative.