a book about india pale ale

hops and gloryin hops and glory (2009), british beer writer pete brown writes about his project of recreating india pale ale’s voyage from britain to india following the east india trading company route

as every beer literate person knows, ipa gets its distinctive taste from the inordinately large amount of hops that distinguishes this style of beer \ the type of hops then provides it with a myriad of flavors <mostly fruity> / the origin of ipa starts with a mid-18th century variety called october beer which is a heavily hopped beer \ the main producers & exporters to india of such beers were breweries located in burton-on-trent / the high gypsum content of burton water is said to be the reason why burton ale was everyone’s favorite ale & was therefore in high demand

aside from these ingredients, being tossed & jostled in its six-month sea voyage as well as the maturity it achieves during this period are thought to consist the recipe for the best ipa \ pete brown found a brewer in burton <owned now by coors> to re-create the original ipa / after a long internet research, he found container|cargo ships willing to take him <as trainee crew for one & passenger in another>  to india following as closely as possible the route that the east india trading company took in the 19th century /  the longest leg of his ship voyage with the burton ipa in tow <he called calcutta ipa> was from brazil to india \ along the way, he experiences setbacks <no spoilers here> and one learns some surface history of british colonial rule & attitudes / he also chronicles the rise and fall of ipa \ ipa did not survive the changing tide & lost favor as a traded product <to opium & tea>

the book is humorous <appropriately so since it’s about beer!> | provides interesting bits of facts |and he doesn’t shy away from expressing his political opinions <which i  can appreciate> / what i liked best though was his awed description of the natural scenery that he observes in his long voyage at sea < I thought I’d seen the Milky Way before, and now I realized I hadn’t properly.  Now I saw that the Milky Way gets its name because when it’s fully visible, it’s like someone has airbrushed a thick, creamy path, straight and wide down the middle of the sky.>

to make reading this book more fun <after all, what do i care about beer?> i decided to drink a different ipa a day <started 3/18 | & similar to my summer beach project> / i was directed by friends to the beer cave in the regent square neighborhood of pittsburgh \ based on my sample of 4, the most frequently mentioned  “favorite ipa” was bell’s two-hearted ale \ but of the 13 or so that i imbibed <three were not ipa’s & acted as controls> what i liked best were hop devil & last chance <which coincidentally was my last> / and i know for sure now that i don’t like ipa’s  <i do like stouts, dogfish head’s namaste & traveler’s tenacious shandy>

this is the longest it’s taken me to read a book! \ i started by finishing a bottle every reading day but could only get through 5 pages at most <at that rate, march would be over & i would still be on the same 450-page book> /with double dog <11.5% alcohol> i was not able to read a single page \ so i then took to drinking from a 6-oz glass & then finally to a sampling glass <from a 1994 beer & music festival held here in pittsburgh>/ though i must say that three days was all it took to noticeably increase my threshold for alcohol

obviously, a fun book to read & drink to!  thanks to my favorite curmudgeon for suggesting this book <& for the chocolate stout> and to other friends for their encouragement & opinions

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to my rowing coach:  not that i’m making excuses but aside from the almond torte, caramel macchiato & aging <you’re right though that the last reason couldn’t have happened in two weeks> my recent dismal performance on the erg was also due to this reading project \ i actually gained about two pounds, enough to make me feel heavy & sluggish thus my slowness & lack of power / well, i finished the book & i’m off the ipa!

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late addition:  i just needed to include this since dogfish head is my favorite brand & this was inspired by the glory days of burton-on-trent <burton baton, imperial ipa>

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