The name, India Pale Ale, is derived from the style of Beer made by British brewers and intended for export to India in the late 18th and 19th century. British soldiers and “visiting” British colonizers insisted on comfort goods from the homeland. Ale was certainly on that list. At this point in history bottling any beverage was rare. Beer was transported to taverns in casks where they were tapped and enjoyed. Casks of Ale making the long voyage from Britain to India encountered extremes in temperature not to mention the constant rolling and sloshing that often-rough seas bestow. After such a journey, the Ales were less than pleasurable and tasted nothing as they did back home. The solution required producing an Ale that was stronger, in terms of alcohol strength, and highly hopped (hops were initially used in brewing for their preservative properties) in order to add sturdiness and longevity to the brew. This caused the English town of Burton to become an important brewing center as it was close to waterways and ports. In decades and centuries following colonization of India the style remained in Britain albeit in a tamed version.
Today, brewers around the globe produce their versions of India Pale Ale, or IPA as it is simply known. Charting IPA on a style map today can make you as sea sick as those transporting the original Ales to India. The classic style that had been present in Britain from the end of Indian colonization until recent decades is far from what is presently considered to be IPA. In the US, IPA has seemingly become the property of west coast brewers who seem determined to produce Ales with painfully high doses of hops. Not only are the hop acids high in measure but also the hop varieties used bear no resemblance to those used in the classic IPA. The result is often akin to making pesto with rosemary as opposed to the traditional use of basil. For this reason it is important to know your Beer when ordering an IPA as style and moniker offer little in regards to flavor and aroma. Our tasting notes will help guide you.