I'm back on one of my favourite topics: the exact nature of early IPA.
Just to recap, the normal line of reasoning is that, as 19th century IPA was a strong beer, modern British IPA's of under 1040 aren't true to style. Let's take a look at the facts.
Here are the gravities of British beers, as listed in an early 19th-century brewing manual:
Brown Stout__________ 1066,48
Family Table Beer______ 1049,86
London Table Beer______1041,55
Workhouse Small Beer___1016,62
"A Practical Treatise on Brewing" by William Chadwick, 1835, pages 38-39.
The weakest full-strength beer is Porter, with an OG of 1061º. What about IPA? I hear you ask.
“Scottish Ale Brewer” (by W.H. Roberts, Edinburgh, 1847, pages 171 and 173) has analyses of forty Edinburgh-brewed IPA's brewed in the years 1844 to 1846. They're a mix of beers for home consumption and export, some specifically to India.
The average gravity of these Scottish-brewed IPA's was 1059º. The weakest was just 1046º, the strongest 1070º. One India export version had a gravity of only 1054º, much lower than you would expect.
The weaker IPA's had a gravity similar to Table Beer. That's the stuff they let the kids drink. Even the strongest, at 1070º, is way short of what was considered strong at the time.
IPA was not originally a strong beer. IPA was not originally a strong beer. IPA was not originally a strong beer. If I say it often enough, maybe people will start believing me.