I like most of everyone else starting drinking over produced, over marketed lager. There wasn't much choice to good beer when I was getting my start that was until one fateful day while visiting my dad it all changed. He passed me a bottle of what I can now call a Strong Bitter from a little known brewery called Broughton Ales, it was called Black Douglas (if you find it I can still recommend it) but wow it was nothing like the watered down crapola beer that I was drinking. This beer had some bitterness to it and it was packed full of tastiness which to be honest I wasn't expecting I mean what did my dad know about beer. Ahhh the ignorance of youth little did I know this man knew what real beer was and I was eager to learn but sadly after that faithful night I sadly slipped back to my lager drinking and spirit chugging old self and the beer became a distant memory.
Come six months later I again was visiting my father and once again he had this beer in the fridge and once again he told me to pop the top and get to drinking. That night I didn't look back but looked forward to trying new things. I started on the dark end because truthfully I was not impressed with the hoppy bitterness of the IPA and it really didn't appeal to me. So off I went to the local craft beer boozers The Distillery and Moon River in Savannah Ga. To make a long journey short I started enjoying beers like Anchor Porter, Left Hand Milk Stout, Brooklyn Double Chocolate Stout and many many more. After all the searching I felt that I had a decent grasp on good dark beer and I therefore didn't care to look on the opposite end of the spectrum because again it just didn't appeal to me. So I stayed in my safe zone not looking to compromise the greatness that comes with dark malty coffee, chocolate, and easy drinking stouts and porters.
After about a year of staying true to my colours and only drinking the darkest of the dark and not straying from the thick and creamy goodness I moved over here to the United Kingdom and discovered even more dark beer. My wife and I were out and about in town while she was looking for a job and we decided it was time for my first ever pub lunch so we stopped into the Scarborough Taps and once again I still wanted something dark so I went with the tried and tested Guinness because to be honest I was scared of those damned hand pumps. It wasn't until I walked into my now place of business and tried my first cask ale and that ale was Centurions Ghost Ale from the York Brewery and I felt inside that my tried and tested dark beer drinking had been justified. I didn't need to go to the light side it wasn't worth it if all the dark beer in this country tasted like ghost or hell better than ghost I didn't need to venture over to the light side. So in February I decided to take a chance on some lighter beer and visited the ever so popular BeerRitz I started with the perfect gateway beer ( in my opinion) 5 AM Saint from the lovely punks at Brewdog and picked up a home grown Belgian IPA from Flying Dog we all know as Raging Bitch, but with some tried and tested darker beers like the Dent Porter and St Peters Old Style Porter.
Fast forward 2 months later and I started working at all places Mr Foleys on the Headrow one the of the first places I tried British brewery beers and got hooked so it was almost coming full circle that was until I had a try out session and for my payment I received an original recipe Punk IPA the 5.6 brew not the 5.4 brew out nowadays. It was like an explosion in my mouth nothing but hops hops hops but hell it went down so smooth and left you with a feeling of holy hell what in the world was that. Then came the faithful night the night that I am now eating my words spoken to beer people like Leigh from Good Food Good Beer, Rob from hopzine.com, Neil from Eating Isnt Cheating and Nick from The Beer Prole. I think I can remember the exact words from that night why would anyone want an IPA its quite disgusting as I was drinking Axe Edge and Black Rocks from Buxton Brewery and thought damn is this what I was missing when I was so closed minded when it came to the light side.
So in closing I have imbraced the IPA but I will never turn my back on my roots the smooth stouts, great porters and amazing bitters will always be my end all be all in beer but there is always room at the top for a couple of good IPA's.
I leave this blog post with my 3 favorite IPA's of the moment. Things can always change dont you think so.
1. Axe Edge from Buxton
2. Suke Quto Coffee IPA from Kernal
3. Mycenary from Odell Brewing
and some special mentions
Human Cannonball from Magic Rock
Hardcore IPA from Brewdog
7 C's of Rye from those crazy guys at Summer Wine Brewery.
Your lists are welcome so please share.