You may be wondering why your favorite IPA tastes like grapefruit. Despite not being a much-discussed topic, it has become why many craft beer drinkers abstain from drinking certain IPAs.
When most people think about IPAs, they probably think of the citrusy and hoppy flavor or grapefruit smell.
This fantasy is exactly what most beers labeled as IPA taste like.
IPAs are quickly becoming one of the most popular styles of beer that you can find in the market today.
It’s grown so popular that even beers that fall under the same category don’t contain any hops!
Exploring the Chemistry Behind IPAs Grapefruit-Like Flavors.
The history and chemistry behind IPAs’ grapefruit-like flavors are rooted in a few beers’ brewing.
During the early 1800s, many people started drinking beer instead of wine. You needed to use more hops to get it to taste more like wine.
For example, some beers today use six different individual hop varieties for their flavor.
Other recipes called for dozens of extra hops.
Both were used in beer recipes until the mid-19th century when the early brewers discovered blending techniques with further work done by scientists in labs around the world.
IPAs are commonly associated with citrus flavors like grapefruit and orange.
However, the history and chemistry behind these flavors have their roots in the brewing of a few beers.
As more people started drinking beer instead of wine, they looked for ways to make it taste more like wine.
Several beer varieties have been created over the centuries, with each generation of brewers perfecting their skills.
Hops are now grown in different countries worldwide, and hundreds of different beers are made daily.
Although the drive to create a superior-tasting brew is ingrained in many brewers, the core values remain constant: quality and consistency must be consistent in creating an enjoyable drinking experience.
Today, new techniques have created the perfect blend of nature and man.
The IPA grapefruit-like flavor results from a unique hybridization process, but the chemical compounds are not.
The new variety was bred by crossing different combinations of the American type known as the ‘Western Cluster’ (developed in the USA).
A gene responsible for tangerine/orange aromas was believed to be incorporated into this selection.
The bitterness of the hops contributes to the grapefruit citrus flavor and aroma, a characteristic first reported by people familiar with their beer taste.
All the beer styles created by the British and American homebrewers were immensely successful and enjoyed by people across both continents.
In fact, due to their popularity, commercial breweries soon started making a few of these new “American Pale Ales.”
Some brewers claimed they had started with an old recipe to make an IPA hoppier than the standard bitter IPA style before adding grapefruit juice (or some other citrus fruit flavoring).
This was an alternative to using coriander or other spices that might have added bitterness and, in turn, bitterness-like flavors.
Instead, it was used to add fruity aromas. This theory is how the grapefruit-like taste (and some say sourness) came about.
How Hop Varieties Contribute to the Grapefruit Flavour of IPA.
Hop varieties are used because of the different flavors they produce. The hop variety used for an IPA is the key player in this beer’s grapefruit-like taste.
The grapefruit hop is one of the most popular hops used in India, Pale Ale (IPA).
Its distinctive spicy, floral, and citrus aroma makes it an indispensable ingredient in many of today’s top-selling craft beers.
IPA is an abbreviation of India Pale Ale and beer brewed in India, the United States, and Australia. IPA’s flavor profile includes floral, fruity, and piney/earthy flavors, among others.
The hop varieties that produce this distinct flavor are American IPAs or New World IPAs.
Hop varieties contribute to the grapefruit flavor of IPA.
It is due, in part, to their unique breeding practices and biochemical makeup (Saccharomyces cerevisiae).
The beer’s flavor results from a complex interaction between the hops and other adjuncts such as malt. The strength of the grapefruit flavor depends on the specific variety used.
The aromatic oils from the hop extract are responsible for an IPA’s bitter and citrus flavor.
When the hop varieties get added, they add foam and bubbles to the beer to build foam particles containing hop aroma flavor.
Why Are IPAs Linked to Having a Resinous or Bitter Taste?
The bitter or resinous taste of IPAs is one of the most polarizing aspects of this beer style.
Some drinkers love it and find it to be a refreshing experience, while others hate it despite the highly hopped beers being polished and attractive to many.
A beer with an IPA style isn’t necessarily made with hops but more so in making the beer. (This generally means the bulk of a beer’s ingredients are barley malt and wheat).
This style’s bitter taste and resinous aroma are often attributed to certain types of hops used in making it.
As the name suggests, “India Pale Ale (IPA)” is an amber and hoppy beer. The use of hops brings about a bitter flavor, which gives rise to a resinous taste in many people’s opinion.
Whether you like the taste or not, we can not deny that something is intriguing about this kind of beer!
Do All IPAs Have a Grapefruit Like a Flavor or an Aroma?
With IPA or any beer, there is always a lot of talk about the quality of the hops used.
The reason is that a great deal of flavor and aroma comes from the hops in your beer. Hops are grown from specific hop varieties that lend to their tastes and smells.
There are two distinct types of hops used in the brewing of IPAs.
One contains primarily the main hop variety, Citra, which comes from the Pacific Northwest region. The other type has mostly Mosaic hops, originating from Washington, D.C.
This means that though the taste of an IPA varies based on which type it contains, both hop varieties impart similar citrus aromas and flavors in the finished product.
The grapefruit-like aroma and flavor produce an immediate positive response from casual drinkers.
Still, to hardcore beer enthusiasts, it indicates that the beer has been created in a way not conducive to delivering more than what is desired in terms of flavor and aroma.
Most IPAs have a grapefruit-like flavor and aroma. However, some styles have other attributes, such as tropical and spicy notes.
Bitter and stone fruit characteristics are common in most IPAs (hop-forward). But you can find the odd one with chocolate or other flavors.
We have found many explanations for why IPA tastes like grapefruit, but none make the least sense.
There is no logical explanation for why IPA will taste like a grapefruit when eaten alone.
Some say that it is because citrus hops are used within an IPA, which directly attributes to the “grapefruit” taste that one may encounter.
Other hop varieties (and even specific cultivars) are also possible, but IPAs are known for their grapefruit-like flavor no matter what hops you use.