Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

IPA your way out of trouble

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve asked if a bar serves IPA.

More often than not the response from the barman is a vacant, “eh?” And then, for some reason, I feel a little stupid for asking.

IPA or India Pale Ale, to give it its full title is a pale ale, heavily hopped. Variations are legion (as are the different types of hops being used) but one similarity within all IPAs is that they are uniformly palatable (at least that’s been my experience).


So named from yesteryear when an enterprising brewer from England needed a type of beer which would survive the six-month voyage to India (the hops apparently made all the difference in preserving), the India Pale Ale is now enjoyed the world over, even making its mark in Tyrone, albeit on a gradual basis.

Locally, we have Pokertree Sputnik IPA and Red Hand IPA from Carrickmore and Donaghmore respectively and both beers are exceptional additions to the burgeoning canon of the hoppy variety. The Sputnik in particular I could drink to a band playing.

Craft beer is all the rage these days but in my world, it’s all about the IPAs.

Nairy a Saturday night goes past that I’m not chugging back on at least one bottle or can of the stuff (when the funds dictate the only tiles I’m treading are the ones in the kitchen).

However from this extensive research (in the loosest possible use of the term), I have discovered that my own palate is more atuned to the American west coast style of IPA.

Just in case you were wondering, east coast IPA also exists but it’s more malty whereas the west coast IPAs are notable for their intense hoppiness. Hoppiness for the win!

To boot, in case you note these in an off-licence after perusing this rant, such a thing as double IPAs also exist.


Also known as Imperial IPAs, these punchy beers have an increased alcohol content, generally above 7.5 per-cent. I have also discovered it’s worth treading carefully around these bruisers.

If you haven’t tasted IPA before, do yourself a favour and pick one (or two) off this list and have a try. You won’t regret it and on the contrary, you’ll never look back.

Also, I should also mention this is only a small flavour of what is locally available. Some of the best rated IPAs in the world haven’t even made it to this little corner of creation – yet.

Hurry up, I say.

Galway Bay Hexed IPA
ABV: 8.5%
Despite the big ABV, this is a really drinkable Imperial IPA (which ultimately makes it dangerous). Not too frothy but bags of fruitiness and because it’s so heavily hopped, it doesn’t taste as strong as you would expect. Totally tropical and best served ice cold.
    Rating: 4/5


Brewdog Punk IPA
ABV: 5.6%
Another tropical explosion, Brewdog Punk is hopped to high heaven (Chinock, Amarillo, Cascade, Simcoe – the list goes on). With a bitter finish, this Scottish beer is more classic IPA than my ordinarily west coast taste buds normally require. But, for all that, this fresh tingly citrus IPA is one of the best on the market. Post-modern class.
    Rating: 4/5

Stone IPA
ABV: 6.9%
The only Californian on the list, this is another beer which doesn’t taste as strong as you might think, Stone IPA is west coast and loving it. Citrus-y and with a slight malty character this is sold in cans locally and with its balance of fruitiness, sweetness and bitterness, this is currently one of my favourites. Nice and crispy.
    Rating: 4.5/5


McGargles Francis’s Big Bangin’ IPA
ABV: 7.1%
This beer from Co Kildare does what it says on the tin (label): It’s very big and very bangin’. With three different types of hops (Columbus, Mosaic and Simcoe), it’s the balance of this drink which makes it so special. Tropical, not too sweet and with the perfect amount of lingering bitterness this is a sumptuous experience from the nose to the aftertaste.
    Rating: 5/5

Northbound 70 Magnum IPA
ABV: 5.5%
Hailing from Derry, this beautiful IPA is a dry-hopped (Magnum) and as crisp as a Spring morning (not that you should be drinking it on a Spring morning, of course). Lightly pine-y and plenty lively, this is almost a golden ale and IPA hybrid. The hoppiness is nearly herbal too. Yum.
    Rating: 4/5

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