Sunday, 6 March 2011

McCrorie IPA

It is a truth universally acknowledged that beer styles evolve over time*. But that doesn't stop people having views on when they were at their best, particularly in the case of India Pale Ale.

Writing in the Brewer's Contact James McCrorie, the man behind the Craft Brewing Association, made clear his views on what should be in a proper IPA:

"[Extra pale malt] is the only malt to be used in brewing an authentic 'original' IPA. Any use of crystal or other coloured malts denies the description 'IPA', although the resultant brew may be quite good."

As it happens it's not unknown for me to use extra pale malt at work, which may well be equivalent to that used in early IPAs (though if you ask me it's lager malt made with posh barley).

The hopping regime is pretty straight forward too:

"Durden Park recommends 2 1/2 oz per gallon of East Kent Goldings."

And as I also happen to have East Kent Goldings at work I felt a bit of practical research was in order.

I made up a brew at 1.070 from all extra pale malt with the required amount of goldings and an attenuative yeast. I dry hopped it too for good measure.

It should have a long maturation, as James McCrorie says IPAs were often 12 months old before shipment. I have managed to leave it for a couple of months but the urge to try a bottle has proved too strong. I can resist everything except temptation.

It is unsurprisingly a very pale beer with an intense bitterness reminiscent of that modern American invention the Double IPA. It doesn't have the huge flavour of citrus or pine from American hops though, with the more restrained East Kent Goldings making the beer taste more like a bitterer version of Meantime IPA. After a few sips the bitterness becomes more bearable and it gets surprisingly drinkable.

I really mustn't though as I want to see how it changes as it ages so I'll try and keep my mitts off for a few more months before I retest.

* Except by those that don't acknowledge it of course.


  1. Awesome. Have wanted to brew a classic IPA for a long time.

  2. But were your hops new, or "yearlings", or "old" or "old old"?

  3. I love how you decided to brew 'an authentic IPA', but then dry-hopped it 'for good measure'. That's pretty much how I cook.

  4. It's only for fun so I'm not taking it too seriously.

  5. Dry-hopping was common by the 1820s, so there's nothing 'inauthentic' about that.

  6. Indeed, there's excellent evidence that, certainly in the 1830s, Hodgson's "Pale Ale prepared for the India market" was dry-hopped, and in the 1840s the Bow brewery was using East Kent Goldings in its "pale India ale", so you're pretty authentic: slightly high in the OG, I'd say, but otherwise your IPA sounds as 19th century as you can get without using a "land race" barley.

  7. I'll do you a swap when its a year old, you can have one of my (probably 18months old) Imperial Stouts :)

  8. pdtnc: sounds good to me.