An entrant from the place India Pale Ale was invented, and now that it’s America’s fav crafty, Samuel Smith is bringing it over here. Actually, they’ve been selling this in the States for a long time, i used to pick one of these up now and then in the 1980’s. The tale bears repeating, IPA is top-fermented because you can do that on a ship rolling at sea, and the water in India was sketchtical, and the troops supporting the British Raj needed something to drink. And boats need ballast, my friend, boats need ballast.
So some genius in England in the 1700’s came up with it: for ballast use barrels of water, which will be good to have in India. Then the next lightningbolt intelligent idea: put malted barley and top-ferment yeast in the water, and by the time you get to India, your boat is full of beer! Total genius. But that kind of brew is not too good, not the real deep colour and flavour of a porter, stout, or even a normal English bitter.
The final idea in the recipe was to hop the heck out of it, and suddenly it tastes decent, to a lad raised on English real beer. Soon they discovered that a strongly hopped beer was extra tasty in a hot country, and the legend was born.
No self-respecting English maltophile would consider drinking India Pale Ale, simply because it’s too pale and ridiculously hopped up. But in America, where we were drowned in Bud/Miller/Coors for a half-century, IPA’s taste like an epiphany, a liberation.
So here’s Sam Smith’s entrant, brewed as always in Tadcaster, and just to reinforce quirky Englishness, it’s just India Ale, like they knew it all along you silly colonials. And truly, it’s not really that pale at all. Orange is what i would call it, and the taste profile is more to that colour than yellowy or lemony. 5.0% alk for this, just right IMHO, and hopped like it’s life depended on it.
They only use barley malt, local well water, hops and yeast. One good thing about English beer, is that they don’t have to obey the rheinheitsgebot, but they do anyway because that’s the way to make real beer. I would like to know, when an American beer obeys the German Beer Purity Law. They should put “R” inside a circle, if it would have been legal for them to brew it in Germany. Somewhere on the corner of the label, use a small circled R logo, if it’s only water, barley, hops, and yeast. Maybe someday.
This smells, tastes, and feels like real beer. It’s just a normal English brew, but centuries of experience make what’s commonplace over there, into top-shelf over here. Truly a fantastic IPA, but not a Top Fiver to an American’s tastes. The body is so robust that it could have supported even more hops. A darn good rating of 8.8, but not top form for an American palate.