Happy India Pale Ale Day!
Pale ale, common in England from the middle of the seventeenth century onward, was originally ale that was brewed from pale malt and lightly hopped. Over time, pale ale came to be made mostly with coke-smelted malt which produced less smoking and roasting of barley in the malting process, and produced a paler ale.
The British East India Company was formed in 1600 to allow Great Britain to master lucrative international trade, first in spices and later in textiles. As the East India Company grew, more and more representatives of the British Empire ventured to India.
One challenge of their work in India was that pale ales brewed in Britain did not make the trip to India well.
One brewery, conveniently located near the East India Company’s docks in London, had developed a pale ale known as October ale, which was brewed to be matured for from 18 months to up to 10 years. The higher alcohol content and greater concentration of hops contributed to the ale’s preservation during the voyage from England to India.
Innovations in brewing, along with the advent of refrigeration and the downsizing of the British Empire, reduced the international market for IPAs.
As craft brewing has become established in the United States, craft brewers have looked to historic examples of beer styles they could develop and interpret. The use of American hops has sparked a resurgence in IPAs, particularly on the west coast. India Pale Ales have become a standard by which craft breweries can be compared.
Almost every visit on my Craft Brewery Pilgrimages includes an IPA, and I am enthusiastically participating in IPA Day 2012.
What is your favorite craft brew?
[Image by visual77]