We barreled through three fine IPAs this week, and it was almost enough to quench the mighty thirst brought on by talking about them in a hot, hot radio studio. We wrote up notes in case you didn’t catch us talking through them live on Dunedin’s Radio One 91FM on Wednesday afternoon.

You may have heard the tale that India Pale Ales came about because the British military needed an extra-hoppy beer to survive the long voyage from England to India. It’s true! Hops were originally added to beer as a preservative first, flavoring second, and the larger than usual dose of hops helped keep British beer drinkable on its trip around the African coast. The story goes that it was originally also high in malt and alcohol, but only drunk full-strength by officers while the troops took it watered down. Today’s IPAs tend to be lower in alcohol and malt, built for balance rather than for travel. B.Effect is a Wanaka newcomer, impressing with their fresh offerings since 2014. Good George, in Hamilton, has been standing out not just for their fine beers and ciders, but their snappy “squealer” bottle packaging, too. Funk Estate turns uncommon brews out of a home base in Wellington; the KingPin we tasted today is part of their special release “Mastermind” series.

B.Effect
– Cut Cat

Small IPA (3.8% ABV)

This “small” or session beer lowers the alcohol on a traditional IPA, but it sure doesn’t lower the intensity. Bitter hop and fresh citrus flavors all around here, from the robust aroma to a long finish, all laid on top of a surprisingly sturdy malt background. You won’t know you’re drinking a lower-alcohol beer.

Good George
– IPA

India Pale Ale (5.8% ABV)

If IPAs are your thing, you’ll find this a solid entry in the field. A bit lighter in body and in flavor, with hops that run toward the sweeter side of the spectrum and excellent balance on the whole. This is the sort of flavorful but refreshing beer that you can really keep drinking on a hot afternoon. We know. We did.

Funk Estate
– Kingpin

Double IPA (8.0% ABV)

If you’re going to take a beer to India, try this one. This hefty ale is fragrant with hops, mixed fruit, marmite and marmalade. It has the body and richness to back up all of those aromatics and the higher alcohol, making for a big, bold, balanced package.