Being a fan of history, I’m also a fan of alternate history. What is alternate history, you ask? It’s a branch of science fiction that posits a change at a point in history, then explores the different path down which events might have traveled as a result of that change. Tonight, for our little flight of alternate history fantasy, we’re going to pretend that the English never colonized India. Instead, India became a German protectorate way back in the 19th century.
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Like the English, the Germans are well known for their thirst for beer. And also like the English, German brewers might have developed hoppy brews to survive the long ocean voyage to the soldaten overseas. The sole difference? Instead of ales, German brewers would have hopped up their lagers, and the world would have then known IPL (India Pale Lager) instead of IPA (India Pale Ale).
While that might be fun to speculate on, you can get some idea of how different the world of beer might have been had our little flight of fantasy actually occurred. Just grab a bottle of Samuel Adams Double Agent IPL and you’ll see what I mean. Double Agent India Pale Lager isn’t exactly a clone of what our mythical German India Pale brew would have been like, since it’s brewed with distcintively American hops. A German hopped brew, with grassy herbal notes would probably be closer to the hoppiness of the original English IPAs, German and English hops being somewhat similar.
Samuel Adams Double Agent IPL has an alcohol content of 5% by volume. The beer is brewed with pale and Munich malts, as well as Nelson Sauvin, Cascade, Simcoe, Zeus, Citra, Centennial and Atahnum hops. That’s quite the hop soup if you ask me. IBU count is 43; keep in mind that will be more impressive in a mid-gravity lager than a maltier IPA. I paid $13.99 for the Spring sampler that contained this beer.
Samuel Adams Double Agent IPL pours to a robust yellow golden color with a very thick and creamy head formation and a bright spicy citrus hop nose. A thick layer of Brussels lace clings to the sides of the glass and follows the liquid all the way to the bottom. Taking a sip, the beer has a clean malt body with a light, gentle hint of caramel and a light toastiness. The hops quickly take over, very citrusy and resiny with a huge bright aroma and a long, dry, lingering bitterness.
This beer is a fascinating experiment. It’s a lager, and with medium body allows the zesty hops to shine through in all their grapefruit and pine glory. You really do get the cleaner malt and lighter body of a lager, all the while preserving the aromatic hops of an American Pale Ale. Indeed, the hops are all the more interesting and reminiscent of an APA more than an IPA thanks to the lower gravity of the brew. Lagers are not supposed to be fruity, and this one isn’t, except from the hops.