Brasserie, Bar & Boutique de Bières
A brief History of IPA
Lagers may be ubiquitous but India Pale Ales are beers with a backstory.
The story of India pale ale (IPA) is one of the most romantic in the history of beer. At the height of its empire, Britain had emigrants, sailors and troops all around the world—with India being one of its most important outposts. All demanded beer, but India itself was too warm for brewing. To meet that need, London brewers who supplied ale learned through experience that the voyage to India could be tough on perishable beers.
George Hodgson, a London brewer in the late 1700s, used his connections to the East India Co. to dominate the export market to the colony. Among other beers, Hodgson exported a strong pale ale. It was probably brewed with extra additions of hops and at higher alcohol levels, both of which act as preservatives. The long voyage transformed the beer into a wonderful drink.
But Hodgson overreached, and that opened the door to the brewers of Burton-on-Trent, in the English Midlands. The pale ale coming from the Trent valley tasted far better than London brews, because its hard water produced a brighter ale—one with a pleasant and refreshing hop character.
Burton brewmaster Samuel Allsop succeeded in brewing one of exceptional quality. It displaced the London beers to become the preferred export to the English colonies. This came to be called India pale ale (not Indian), or IPA.
It’s been a funny old journey: a beer that was invented in Britain for the Indian market, was revived by Americans and then copied by brewers in Britain and now brewed for you here in The Pays Toy, Haut-Pyrenees. Enjoy!