The Research Continues

I hope this is the last of my filler posts for a bit. When school starts back up for Rachel this next week I’ll have more time to write. Also with the clients back in their programs they’re calmer and therefore I can write during brief breaks at work. Still wont have internet though.


I’ve been doing some more research on the origins of the IPA, and the more I research the more things I begin to understand about export beer.

Often when we discuss beer we view it through a lens tainted by our modern beer. We either assume that people in the 1800’s could, and did, produce consistent high quality beer using technology they didn’t even have, or we assume they needed some magical ingredient or method to make good beer. We often forget that tastes were different then, and also forget to factor in the flavor properties aging hoppy beers imparts. We live in a time when it’s all about fresh from the brite tank, highly hopped, high alcohol beers. If we step were to step into the 1800’s though we’d get a much different view from people about what beer was.

In order to understand the IPA it helps if we look at domestic Strong Ales of the time. Strong Ales were brewed both in the US and in Britain. In fact Capitol Taps (He doesn’t get enough link love from me) found an interesting article on a bottle of Strong Ale unearthed while workers excavated on Mission St in Salem. Apparently the bottle was discovered in 1909, and workers described the bottle as sound and having gained in quality. The article also states the bottle was at least 20 years old. If this is the case it shows that strong ales were not just an export beer brewed in Britain for the India market.

Another development is an email I got from a drinker in the UK. He recommended some books on the matter, but also mentioned that in hopping records from the time most beers for export at various places around the world were heavily hopped, not just IPA’s. They also mentioned that many beers at the time were apparently drunk aged, not young like most people assume. If IPA’s were in fact ment to be aged, and not drunk when they hit India’s shores, then this would greatly change the view of the IPA myth. The high hops in IPA’s would be less of a unique transport feature specific to the India market and more of a flavor issue. This would also strengthen the connection many people make between maltier “October Ales” and the IPA.

Tags: , ,

2 Responses to “The Research Continues”

  1. jbx says:

    I think research relates to the primitive lizard brain predator instinct about which Alworth so eloquently wrote.
    The act of researching brings pleasure, often produces a trance like state of focus, an altered state of consciousness.

    Many times I have rejoiced at a realization / a conclusion unique in the time-space continuum. Ie, I know something that no one else has known for scores of years.

    I look forward to you sharing some of the new found knowledge; knowledge saved from the abyss of forgotten history.

  2. Capital Taps says:

    Keep the research coming!

    Until recently Full Sail Session exemplified my view of pre-prohibition brewing: all-grain, modestly-sized lager. Even shifting over to ales, I figured they would be low-abv bitters. If nothing else the ingredient costs needed to be kept low.

    But maybe for preservation and to mask crappy – literally! – water, the beers were sometimes, maybe often, much bigger and more hopped.

    Lots to learn!

Leave a Reply