We did speak a little bit about history in the previous article. Now is the time to dive into another lesson in history. We are a very patriotic lot. This has got much to do with the British colonialism which lasted until 1947 (I would say even more than that). But one of the lesser known stories about the time of British era in India was the advent of the India Pale Ale. Indian Pale Ale is one of the most dominating names in the craft beer circles. You cannot be amongst craft beers and not know about this. When I first heard about this name it intrigued me. The name definitely suggested that it had something to do with India. But did not know what it was at that time. It is a very interesting part of the beer history that has its links with India and yet beer lovers in India might not even have a clue about it. Isn’t it ironical?
Back during the 18th century the British sailors and the Navy and also British settlers in India missed their beer. Porter was the famous type of beer that was liked at that time but when those beers were exported to India but it turned sour because of the temperature and because of no shelf life during those days. They tried to set up a mobile brewery in the ships but that did not work out for long distances. That was when a brewery called as the Bow brewery from East England came up with what we now call as the Indian Pale Ale. It was designed to be strong in content ant hops as the only way to stop the beers from getting spoilt is through alcohol and hops. Also he added more sugar and grain.
Pale Ale is called so because of its pale color. Beers those days were usually black or brown. There is still a huge amount of debate whether this technique was done specifically for the Indian market or was it done for all beers being exported to long distances. Also if the brewer George Hodgson was the inventor of this style or was it already present. But nevertheless the beer type did eventually get the name as India Pale Ale and was a roaring success. It became the most famous type of beer to be sold all over the world and India in particular. Sales increased almost 5 times between 1775 to 1800.
India Pale Ale was the most widely sold type of beer internationally before the now popular lager took over. Lager has now become popular because of the mass production and the industrialization of beer brewing where a beer which offends no one is made. But IPA is the strongest name in craft beer circles and coinciding with the craft beer revolution starting in the USA, IPA has started to regain some of the lost ground. It is almost like a full circle for the IPA.