Brad Bergman, Head Brewer at Petoskey Brewing Company in Petoskey talks with Traverse food and wine editor Tim Tebeau about IPA’s, from basic knowledge to pairings. Find the original Q&A in the September 2015 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine

Brad Bergman studied chemistry at Appalachian State University and found his love for brewing in the beer-centric enclave of Asheville, North Carolina. After a stint working for Sam Adams in Cincinnati, Bergman jumped at the chance to move North and take over production at Petoskey Brewing Company in 2014. With summer waning, we sit down with Brad to explore IPA’s, essential hop chemistry and why we should drink them young.

What defines an India Pale Ale?

In a nutshell, hops. For a brewer, hops are the spice of beer, and the IPA is a style that allows me to really showcase and experiment with hops. Brewing IPA’s is interesting because there are so many approaches, particularly with late hop additions that really control flavor and aroma.

Late hop additions? Explain?

The bitterness in IPA’s is generated when the hops’ alpha acids are isomerized during boiling. So we add our hops later in the process, which not only controls the bitterness but also preserves the hops’ essential oils that impart all those complex flavors and aromas to the beer. Depending on the strain you can get citrusy, piney, floral or earthy tones. IPA descriptions often invoke specific hop strains.

What are your go-to’s?

I’ve always been a really big fan of centennial hops. They have a very recognizable citrus character and a floral perfuminess. We’re now getting most of our hops from Empire Hop Farm and they’ve developed a proprietary variety, Empire, that has unique, woody tones similar to Amarillo with a very slight citrus note. Some new varieties coming on line, like Mosaic, have a pronounced tropical quality that will make for some interesting beers. Beer Geeks are attuned to brewing and bottling dates, why is this important? It’s especially important for IPA’s, as young, fresh beers showcase their full range of flavors. Look for bottling dates one to three months before your purchase date; beyond that the beer has begun to oxidize and will lose a lot of its dimension.

How should we pair IPA’s with food?

Any good beer has to go well with pizza, and IPA’s certainly do. Beyond that these beers really complement spicy, intense flavor combinations like those found in Thai and Indian food.


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