This post is part of my ~CrAfT~ beer magick series, check out my blr for more. Masterpost will magickally appear when I feel I’ve exhausted the topic, which might take a while. For those who’ve missed the previous posts: to be blunt, you can trust me when I talk about the history of beer, because my fiance Matt homebrews, we’re both experienced craft beer enthusiasts and oh yeah, I’ve done a lot of research to make sure that what I’ve gathered from my craft beer adventures were not lies.
Onto the beer!
India Pale Ales aka IPAs are Matt’s absolute favorite type of beer. They originate in the late 18th century and have pale ale base with extra hops added. Pale ale originally meaning that the malt [aka cooked-in-a-special-way grain, grain as in ‘usually barley’] was roasted over coke fires instead of wood/coal/peat fires, which made the malt literally paler in color than other malts. Nowadays we can just kiln stuff however we want, though there’s a serious science to that process as well. Google Maillard reactions for more.
Into that pale ale base, they would throw in extra hops.
Why? Let me start with the precursor to the IPA. IPAs were originally called October beers, after the season in which one would typically begin brewing them, because that’s when all your ingredients are ready. Not to be confused with Oktoberfest style beers, which are different. October beers were aged for a while, so to prevent bacterial spoilage, they needed a beer that had a higher alcohol content. Fancy English landowners would age their beer to be fancy (some say to compete with the perceived fanciness of wine, but that’s unverified). So your beer won’t spoil, but now it tastes too alcohol-y. Enter hops.
Not that kinds of hops, guys! This kind:
(photo cred: www.buckcreekhops.com)
Hops pull double duty of covering up the flavor of higher alcohol beers, and *drumroll* also has antibacterial properties! Well I should say triple duty because hops also add a lot of balance and delicious crispness to a malty beer.
I would like to clarify here, that IPAs tend to have a reputation for having higher ABVs. I think this is because people have heard this hops-origin story and assume that hops= higher ABV. That is a fallacy. Session IPAs exist and are delicious just like Imperial IPAs exist and are delicious. For the beer-padawans: session= somewhere around 4-5%ABV meaning you can have a lot of this beer in one session of drinking without getting terribly drunk. At the opposite end, we have imperials= 7 to 14%ABV or more meaning:
One really smart brewer-business man named Hodgson decided after some experimentation that this “October beer” would be the perfect thing to sell to the East India Trading Company, who were tired of the previous long-sea-journey beer: porters, which spoiled easily, were malty, and tasted bad warm. They needed a spoilage-resistant (high alcohol/antibacterial hops), refreshing, crisp beer which, you guessed it, was the IPA, named of course after it’s intended destination.
But wait there’s more! Hops prevent scurvy! That’s right, hops naturally have vitamin C. Scurvy is literally vitamin C deficiency which causes weakness, bleeding gums, shortness of breath, bone pain, emotional changes, and eventually, death. It was rampant among sailors of long sea voyages throughout the “Golden” Age of Sail (circa 1600-1900). Oranges were also used to combat this problem, but they were expensive and c’mon, beer’s got more curb appeal.
When the first barrels of IPAs made it to India, people loved it and it grew into a historically important style of beer, that literally saved lives (and palates). Several breweries copied Hodgson and the rest is history…. the history of the modern IPA, which I will also explain.
To sum up, they loved IPAs because:
-IPAs could make it to India unspoiled.
-IPAs provided clean drinking water. (As explained in a previous post, water is boiling in brewing.)
-IPAs prevent scurvy!
-IPAs are delicious, crisp, and refreshing in balmy weather!
-IPAs have a higher ABV, which I’m sure lots of peeps appreciated.
Like with everything, people took this idea and modified it over time. With the current craft beer renaissance, American brewers and hops farmers have created several iconic types of hops that have different tastes, smells, and haziness characteristics including: piney, floral, citrus, fruity, earthy, etc, even one experimental hop that my fiance brewed with that smelled like earl grey tea/fruit loops. The strains all have cool names like Cascade and Galaxy, but enough about hops, I’ll do a separate post about them, because they have many magickal and medicinal qualities. Onto the three ‘main’ types of popular IPAs available in America (at least, but some worldwide), that have all stemmed from the wonderful origins of long-sea-voyage IPAs.
I lied. One last thing about hops that will help me define the differences between IPA styles. Hops basically have two factors that brewers focus on: aroma and bitterness. When a brewer adds hops to their recipe, you could add them to make your beer have a specific smell/taste (bc smelling and tasting are intertwined) or for bitterness to balance the sweet flavors of malt. So: bittering hops or aromatic hops. There. That’s the last hops thing I swear.
East Coast IPA- refers to/originated from the East Coast of America (that’s the New York, Boston, Portland Maine, Atlantic side, for the international friends). This used to be more of a thing, but people more often refer to this kind of beer as a New England IPA now. Mainly because that’s where a lot of the craft beer renaissance is going on. Not to say that it doesn’t happen outside of NE, just that we have a lot of beer meccas, large and growing breweries, and let’s face it, there’s not much else to do in NE so we like to focus on our beer and our pretty color-changing leaves (fyi, yes leafspotters are a thing in NE). East Coast style meant you had an aromatic hoppy beer but not necessarily an unfiltered beer, which is a classic spec for NEIPAs. Their niche in the market has been pretty much taken over by NEIPAs.
New England IPA- refers to/originated from my personal necka tha woods, specifically: NOT NEW YORK GFDI, Connecticut (thassa me!), Massachusetts (go Bruins), New Hampshire (Live Free or Die ppl), Vermont (Burlington, VT is a beer mecca), Rhode Island (not a road, nor an actual island), and Maine (home of Allagash and great lobster). I might be biased, but these are the best kind. Lighter in color, better, aromatic, better, fruity/juicy, better, and HAZY AF. Seriously, the haze is a classic characteristic of this beer. The haze is literally yeast and grainy bits in there. They’re very aromatic, not very bitter, usually described as fruity, juicy, or floral… and they’re my favorite IPAs. Try: Heady Topper from The Alchemist in Stowe, VT.
West Coast IPA- refers to/originated from the West Coast of America (that’s the LA, San Fran, Vegas, Portland Washington, Pacific side, for my internat’l peeps). West Coast IPAs are realllllyyyyyyy bitter af with lots of piney, citrusy flavors. They are usually filtered so the beer looks clearer than NEIPAs. These are your palate wreckers. I’ve heard some people conflate these with DIPAs, but that’s not quite correct. Though DIPAs are more popular out west, they are gaining traction in the east, too. They’re historically hoppy because they grow hops in this region! The pacific northwest is in that sweet spot for growing hops. Cascade, Apollo, Chinook, Amarillo, Citra, all these are hops bred/created in/around Oregon and Washington state. West Coast IPAs usually include these west coast hops in their recipe. Pretty cool connected-to-the-land type stuff!
DIPA- pronounced as “double eye-pee-ay.”. It literally stands for double India Pale Ale meaning it has “double” the hops. Double is a loose term because there’s no exact set regular/single amount of hops to use in an IPA to begin with, so take double with a grain of salt. This is a palate wrecker for some people, (there’s actually a DIPA named Palate Wrecker from Green Flash Brewing Co. from San Deigo, those west-coasters, man) so try a regular or session IPA first to see if you like that much hops flavor before moving up. Yes, there are triple IPAs, though, in actuality, there is no true standard for a TIPA (said “triple eye-pee-ay”) most people use the TIPA designation to mean a fuckton of hops aka an even hoppier DIPA. Both DIPAs and TIPAs can also be called Imperial IPAs, usually in reference to their higher alcohol content.
Drink up, my witches, it’s potion time.
So, you ask me, that’s all well and good, but what about the magick, Bel? Well, here ya go:
If you would like to improvise and incorporate an IPA into your own spells:
IPA magickal correspondences: male, water, earth, sea, traveling/voyages (especially traveling over/under the water i.e. a cruise, going underway while in the military, a ferry ride, a kayaking trip, a prolonged fishing trip especially fly-fishing), health, energy, endurance (to give endurance to someone or to make a spell last longer)
IPAs can be used as a signifier of: a sailor, a submariner, anyone in the Navy or the Marines, a sea/water witch, anyone traveling overseas, a business opportunity, the sharing of wealth and knowledge. If you’re using a geo-specific style of IPA with intent, then you can use a NEIPA to represent someone from or traveling to New England, etc.
Spell for the Protection of Someone Traveling Overseas:
Gather: 3 bottles/cans/drafts of your preferred IPA (use the info above to chose), a representation of your preferred sea god/dess (referred to below as the god token), the loved one themselves or a picture/token of that loved one, your focused mind.
Begin the usual way, as in: cleanse, create your circle, call your watchtowers, invoke your god, however you normally begin spells.
Arrange your three bottles in a triangle. Face one bottle toward the god token, face the other toward the loved one token, face the last toward yourself. Formally offer one bottle to your god/dess as an offering (if that’s how you flow). The bottle in front of your loved one is the host of this spell. The third bottle represents the celebration of the return of your loved one.
Focus your breath and your intent. Visualize your loved one warm, well-fed, and safe. Address the loved one token and the god token in turn and say:
“As you travel far from me,
off the land and out to sea,
protection you shall have threefold,
the first, from me prevents the cold.
Second, through this hoppy brew
ensures you fare to drink and chew.
I ask the god of sea and sail
to keep you safe and keep you hale.
Comfy, warm, slaked, and sated
well and whole, ills abated.
As you travel back to me
you will keep these blessings three.
From Craft to craft,
from fore to aft,
from witch and god,
and witch’s draft,
it’s three times three,
on land and sea,
safe in the lee,
so mote it be.”
The last eight lines may be repeated or chanted to build power or focus if desired/needed.
Give the offering bottle to the god in whatever way feels right. I would suggest pouring the bottle into the body of water that your loved one is travelling over/on. If that’s not possible, I would suggest another natural body of water such as a lake or river, where it can eventually reach the body of water your loved one is travelling on/over.
Save the loved one bottle and your bottle. Keep ‘em in the back of your fridge where you’re mooch of a roomie won’t get to ‘em. Remember these two bottles are the promise and the celebration. A promise to your loved one that they will return safely to drink these two bottles with you in celebration of their homecoming. If your loved one won’t be returning to your location (as in they live somewhere else and “safely returning home” for them means not your actual location), then you could choose to: drink both yourself, pour one out for your loved one and drink the other yourself, send them the beer (mailing restrictions apply here) and drink it over skype with them, pour both out, etc.
Finish up your spell in the usual way, as in: ground yourself, cakes and ale, thanks the god/dess who helped you, release/thank the watchtowers, whatever floats your boat. [Get it, that was some nautical themed humor for ya.]
Welp, there ya go kiddos. Ask/submit with questions, comments, promises of free beer. More Craft Beer Magick to come soon.
One of the last few Canadian beers I brought back from our holiday through the Pacific Northwest. This Jasmine IPA from Steamworks Brewing in Vancouver is one of the easiest drinking IPA’s I’ve had in awhile; a nice retreat from the usual San Diego hop bombs. “Bière Forte” however might be disputed by any true west coast IPA lover, but this isn’t really about alcohol percentages now is it? Jasmine IPA is a nice balance of both flavor and alcohol. And would do well against any SD SIPA.