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IPA's, where did they come from?


Pale Ale, aka IPA, have been around for a long time and have now become an American standard. Anyone who is brewing, has to make an IPA.

So where did they start? As I dig into this it is more complicated than one might think.

Long before India Pale Ale's were around, England was shipping beer to the British Empire in India, because it was too hot to brew beer there. Getting the brew there took at least six months, and often didn't survive the long trip. Remember there was no refrigeration then, so this brew remained in wooden casks in a hot ship for months.

Around 1752, George Hodgson opened a brewery in east London, near the East India's shipping dock. He is often said to be the one who created IPA, however, this is unlikely.

Most believe that the IPA's of the time would have been derived from an October beer or a malt wine commonly brewed. These were basically imperial bitter ales produced from fresh harvested hops and aged. These brews were higher in alcohol and more hops would be added for the long voyage, both helped to preserving the brew.

This highly hopped pale ale was around long before it was labeled India Pale Ale. The first written reference to "India Pale Ale" was found in a 1829 Australian newspaper. By this time the market town of Burton-on-Trent, north of London became the hub of producing IPA style beer and exporting it.

This beer invented in Britain for the India market has now been revived by Americans. Notable American IPAs today are Ballast Point's Sculpin, and Dogfish Head's 120 Minute IPA.


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