Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Which is authentic IPA?

I stumbled over an intriguing table the other day. Showing the hopping rates for British beer types in 1905. Rather than just reproduce the table by itself, I've also put together another of my own. Based on information from Whitbread's brewing records. You guessed it: compare and contrast time again.

Here's the table from the book:


Average amount of hops used in different types of beer
Beer
Specific gravity before fermentation
lbs. of hops per barrel of wort
Mild ale
1050º-1058º
0.75 - 1.5
Pale ale
1048º-1055º
2 - 3
India pale ale
1055º-1064º
3 - 4
Strong ale
1065º-1083º
3 - 4
Porter
1050º-1056º
0.75 - 1.5
Single stout
1063º-1070º
2 - 3
Double stout
1075º-1083º
2.5 - 3.5
Imperial stout
1085º-1098º
3 - 4
Export stout
1060º-1098º
3 - 5
Source:
"The Brewing Industry" by Julian L. Baker, 1905, page 92

What stands out? The relationship between Pale Ale and IPA. The latter is indicated as being both stronger and more heavily hopped. You can probably recall me mentioning the odd 3,000 times that IPA was not a strong beer. But here it is clearly indicated as PA's big brother.

Now here's my table of Whitbread's beers of the same period. I've taken the information from their brewing records, so it must be correct.

Whitbread beers in 1905 - 1906
Beer
Style
OG
FG
ABV
App. Attenuation
lbs hops/ qtr
hops lb/brl
X
Mild
1055.1
1013.0
5.57
76.42%
5.00
1.23
IPA
IPA
1050.1
1013.0
4.91
74.04%
11.99
2.63
FA
Pale Ale
1050.2
1014.0
4.80
72.14%
11.97
2.62
2PA
Pale Ale
1056.8
1018.0
5.13
68.30%
9.46
2.38
PA
Pale Ale
1063.4
1022.0
5.47
65.29%
12.01
3.40
KK
Strong Ale
1075.1
1028.0
6.23
62.73%
12.02
4.06
2KKK
Strong Ale
1080.2
1033.0
6.24
58.83%
12.02
4.33
KKK
Strong Ale
1085.8
1032.0
7.11
62.69%
12.02
4.63
P
Porter
1055.5
1013.0
5.62
76.58%
6.36
1.56
S
Stout
1075.6
1027.0
6.43
64.28%
7.76
2.89
SS
Stout
1086.0
1032.0
7.14
62.78%
8.57
3.81
SSS
Stout
1095.5
1037.0
7.74
61.27%
8.57
3.97
Source:
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives

Whitbread's X and Porter both fit Baker's specifications, in terms of SG and hopping rate. Whitbread's Stouts, though they have slightly higher SG's, have about the same hopping rate. The Strong Ales are a bit more heavily hopped than specified. But not by any crazy amount.

Then there's Pale Ale and IPA.You know what's funny? Whitbread's IPA fits the Pale Ale spec and their Pale Ale the IPA spec. Weird, eh? What's going on? Did Whitbread get their styles mixed up? Or did IPA mean something different to southern drinkers? I suspect it's probably the latter.

It looks very much as if Baker has based his IPA specification on Bass. Which I suppose isn't unreasonable. It's just that in London, brewers and drinkers had other ideas about what constituted an IPA. Which was the authentic IPA: London or Burton?

I'd have to say both. Because both types of IPA were brewed for the rest of the 20th century. Drinkers clearly weren't confused. But I suppose it's irritating for style nazis to have two different types of beer using the same name. It doesn't worry me. I'm here to record and describe the past, not to judge it. I'll leave that to the nazis.

1 comment:

The Hearty Goodfellow said...

Frantically jotting down various details of this...

After all, it is always nice to able to provide answers for those Nazi's during their inevitable interrogations...