Since starting work at Pumphouse Brewery in Moncton last year, Greg Nash---the man who brewed Garrison's first batch of Imperial India Pale Ale in a plastic vat---has waded even further into the deep end of extreme beer making.
"My mouth is still in shock and awe," he says, after tasting a batch of his triple strength India Pale Ale. At the Pumphouse Pub in Moncton, he's brewing house batches of India Pale Ales that are double and triple the strength of the Imperial Garrison IPA. "When you see the number of hops that go into it, it seems insane. I like to go off the edge," he says, sounding nearly like a normal person.
"Die hard beer geeks," (his name for real ale enthusiasts) really go for them. Nash says hoppy microbrew IPAs have seen the "biggest market segment increase over the last couple years." There are over 1,500 craft breweries in the States and most of them would brew an IPA. You know a trend is peaking when the New Yorker writes about extreme beers in their food issue.
The story of India Pale Ales is pretty familiar to beer-o-philes. British soliders of the Raj wanted English beer, so English brewers developed a strong, hoppy alcoholic beer that could survive the long journey to India.
Part of the ale's strength comes from making what brewers call a "wet, hot beer." That's when they add fresh hops to the boil within 24 hours of the picking from the field. They're not dried, so they produce a bitter green, vegetative quality that characterizes these popular, macho ales.