The English IPA a Northern Brewers Ramblings

April 14, 2012 § 1 Comment

Recently I helped to organise an English IPA Craft Brewing (Amateur) competition, at the Wonderful Saltaire brewery at Shipley Near Bradford, Yorkshire. A wonderful old building run by a great team, who will welcome the world and his dog in as long as you are as crazy about beer as they all are, if you get the chance pop in and say hello, & buy some beer off them too, i’m sure they will be more than happy to sell you some :).

Saltaire Blonde

Saltaire Brewery Shipley Yorkshire

As well as dealing with the entries, sorting out the judges, mingling with the brewers, and generally making myself available, I thought I’d also better be part of the entertainment for the afternoon. After all being as I had insisted that the brewers only use English Hops I’d better put some conviction into what English IPA means to me.

True English IPA is a mythical drink that should be protected, by style, & I think any Englishman worth his salt should band together and, fly a Banner for this much underestimated style of beer. We should be trying to stop other countries using IPA to describe a beer that never was intended to be brewed for English shores, It should be a style that is as English as the Magna Carta, and it should also be a formidable beer not a 3.5% offering from East Anglia with added caramel.

I therefore presented the Following Talk for the entertainment of the baying crowds….

What truly is INDIA PALE ALE?
Well for me it certainly isn’t any beer that comes from America or any other county other than England, neither is it made with anything other than Pale Malt, with maybe & I stress maybe a hint of crystal, and good quality English Hops. It certainly isn’t a beer made by Caledonian or Greene King, & I would like to see them hung drawn and quartered for having the gall to call their pishy offerings IPA.
India Pale Ale needs to be robust, be strong, have, body, plenty of flavour and lashings of bitterness that fizzes on your tongue and brings your palate alive when you take a sip.
If sampling a commercial example or if sampling a Craft (Home) brewed example.
It needs to be a beer that makes you stare into it with wonder, it needs to be respected & it needs to amaze, each and every time you visit it.
American & New World AIPA’s also do this and there are some amazing beers out there, but it is the English India Pale Ale that is in my opinion the King of Pale Ales.
There are many myths and untruths about this revered style of beer, and I would suggest a true example of this beer style would be very hard if not impossible to recreate, by anyone other than a rich eccentric, with a passion for brewing, sitting around pondering, and trans-Atlantic sailing.
For to make a True IPA, you need lots of malt, lots of Hops, lots of time, an abundance of patience & access to Ocean going Yacht bound for Calcutta.
Recipe for a True IPA, (To make one BBL):
You will need around 35-40KG of good quality English Pale Malt, (some would argue lager malt is truer to the pale malts originally used)
1.5-2.5KG of good quality dried Whole Flower English Hops (purists would say IPA should only be made with Golding’s & preferably only East Kent Golding’s)
To make an original London Style IPA, you will need a London Water Profile, But for a more outstanding example I would recommend a Burton on Trent Water Profile, High In Calcium Sulphate, to allow the Hop bitterness to cut through, and also to give you a paler more sparkling beer, due to the fact that less colour will be picked up from the malt with a burton profile. (I won’t go any further into water or we will be here until next year, but if any of you want to learn more on water profile manipulation, I would suggest you order the newly published book Titled “Water” by John Palmer and Colin Kaminski released in a few weeks, time)
1) Mash your crushed Pale Malt at 68 degrees for 3 Hours in a well, insulated Tun.
2) Lauter & Sparge very slowly into your Copper & with water at 76C 1.5-2hrs run off and Sparge is ideal.
3) Simmer your Sweet Wort for 3 hours (a vigorous boil is not required for this brew), adding at least 1.5KG of East Kent Golding’s, for the final 1.5hrs of the Boil.
4) Use a good quality English Liquid yeast strain, Such as Burton Ale Yeast from Brew labs, White Labs or Wyeyeast, and don’t over pitch, or you will lose a lot of bitterness to the yeast, Burton Ale loves to strip Bitterness out of the brew.
5) Pitch at a nice cool 18Degrees C and let free rise to around 21 degrees and rouse every other day if using a Burton strain or you will not get full attenuation.
6) Ferment out for 6-10 days and then cask adding 200-500G of EKG to the casks, and bulk age in cask for 3-6months, at 12-15 degrees, remembering to vent the excess pressure at least weekly, this style tends to secondary ferment for a good few weeks following the initial 6-10day fermentation, and will finish nice and dry if handled well.
7) Whilst bulk conditioning is taking place, polish the brass and varnish the wood on your yacht, make sure the sails are tip top, no ropes are frayed and ensure all shipshape as you and your pale Ale are going on a very long journey.
8) Once Happy that secondary fermentation is finished & you have vented your cask enough to ensure its not going to blow on your journey (Ask Pete Brown about this), load your 3 casks onto the Skylark, and put them in the bottom of the ship for ballast, please also ensure you can’t get at them easily, Sailing can be Thirsty work, you don’t want to be turning up with 1 half empty cask do you. I would recommend a few cornies of English session bitter and one of Barley Wine, should keep you away from the goods in the hold.
9) You are now ready to Set Sail for an adventure into the great big briny blue Atlantic, on route for The Canaries. Once there stock up on fresh food and water & carry on to Madeira, Where if you want to make an authentic trip, you now need to pick up some Pipes of young Madeira Wine, put these pipes in the bottom of the boat along with your IPA, they are going to be good bedfellows for the journey ahead. (Madeira was traditionally traded by the East India Company, and as a result of the sea journey, Madeira is now made in large warm rooms with the bulk casks being rocked for months at 35deg C the wine thus metamorphoses into the beautiful honeyed liquid that connoisseurs love today)
10) Once stocked up with Madeira, it’s time to hit the trade winds and travel towards Rio de Janero, the journey to India is now not going to be an easy one, & if you are lucky the winds will be good to you, & you will pass through the Doldrums without too much issue, (if the winds are not favourable you could end up in trouble here, there are stories of sailing ships being stranded in this area of water for months, drifting with no trade winds to carry them to their destination). If you have time on your hands you could take a trip on to the cococobana beach and sink a few cold Brahma’s whilst watching the beautiful ladies top up their tans, however that won’t get your IPA made.
11) If the winds are favourable your Yacht should now be making a big turn towards Africa and you will be making the trip back over the Atlantic towards Cape Town, the sea will be warm as hell and the temperature and rocking motion of the ship will be producing the magic elixir you have set out to make.
12) On successfully reaching the Cape Of good Hope, it’s time to round the cape and head north up the coast of Africa in the warm Indian ocean, all the time the rocking and warmth are hopefully making a beery ambrosia below your feet. Ale force, alchemy, working at its best. But Watch out guys for those Somali pirates Sinbad’s out to get you.
13) Once safely out of reach of the Pirates it’s time to navigate to Calcutta, the sea temperatures not going to let up and the rocking is still doing its work in the bowels of the ship, but don’t be tempted to drink just yet although the temptation must be hard by now.
14) On arriving to Calcutta after between 4-6 months at sea you now need to bottle your beers, now this is where it gets a little sketchy, did the Anglo Indian merchants re-pitch and prime with a secondary dried bottling yeast or did they just fill and cap and hope for the best? My moneys on the second method the other thing is & did they have some peracetic to hand to sterilise those bottles, better make sure you packed some in the hold.
15) Assuming
• the Indian Customs don’t confiscate your beers when you go ashore
• your casks have not burst due to pressure build up
• you bottled well without oxidising your beer
You can now go and educate the nice Middle Class Indian gentlemen, on the finest ale to have landed on the Indian shores for over 100 years.

But remember to bring a bottle back for the author of the recipe, just to sample.
I would love to see someone do the above, and sample the beer just to see what that journey actually does to the beer.
One can only imagine what the style should be like, by trying to recreate the recipes of Old, (especially the Durden Park recipes), at home and sitting on the beer for a few years, hoping it’s going to be a gem, that you can share with friends talk about into the night and pass on the rich history that was the part of the fabric that made the British empire great, British pale ale to keep the merchants and troops on far off shores going, in the face of adversity.
India Pale Ale the beer that made an Empire great, please raise your glasses in a toast to IPA, Cheers.

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