Wednesday, 14 June 2017

History-ish: Imperial India Pale Ale - What's in a name anyway?

I tweeted this previously but I felt it needed a more permanent position on the web, as it's the first mention I've come across in old local newspapers of Imperial India Pale Ales, which are supposedly a new invention but I'll let wiser minds than mine argue that point and tell you more about McNellan & Co ... feel free to Google both.

(The Carlow Sentinel - March 1868)

But perhaps there is a point to be made about expecting too much from beer descriptors and some of the more official style guidelines. A time traveller from our current beer obsessed world might be sorely disappointed by the above mentioned beer if he walked into a public house and order one in 1868. Style guides can give an idea of roughly what to expect from a product we are about to drink but do they have any place outside of homebrew competition? And even in those are good beers being overlooked as they are 'not to style'?

The word imperial here is just a marketing ploy meaning the best of its kind, and I've come across it before in relation to perry, so perhaps we read too much into certain words and let them taint our appreciation of a good drink.

Can beer not just be beer, judged on whether you like it or not? Are there not enough taste influencers around without adding style parameters to our poor deluded tastebuds?

I'm not suggesting we label all beer as 'BEER' by the way, I'm just wondering do we get a bee in our bonnet about what a brewer calls their beer at times?

And don't get me started on IBUs...


{With thanks as usual to the local history room in Carlow library}

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