In 1990 a video was produced for the VHS market by two Americans, Timothy Lorang and David Golden. It was an early chronicle of craft beer culture, in fact “craft beer” is explained at one point as synonymous with the more commonly employed “microbrewing”.
Michael Jackson’s video The Beer Hunter preceded it by a year or two, and probably influenced the production. In fact Jackson appears in Lorang-Golden film, to introduce the subject. Characteristically, he speaks clearly and cogently, yet this segment was shot in one take as Lorang explains in a backgrounder linked in the synopsis.
Lorang has generously uploaded the full original programme to YouTube, which you may watch here. As he notes in the accompanying essay, a striking feature is that India Pale Ale aka IPA receives only one or two mentions in the film.
One was by brewing industry legend Teri Fahrendorf, now with Great Western Malting in Vancouver, WA. Her many professional accomplishments include a long-time stint as brewmaster at Steelhead Brewing Co. in Eugene, Oregon. She is also founder of the Pink Boots Society.
A second reference is a visual one, a colour shot of Grant’s India Pale Ale included in a tableau of pale and amber ales. One can see, or rather infer, that IPA then was viewed as a sub-set of the pale ale family, which is entirely correct historically.
In time, the situation would be rather reversed, but the point is, pale ale and IPA have no clear demarcation when viewed historically and for their essential characteristics.
The interviews with Fahrendorf, Bert Grant, Mike Hale, and the other subjects are highly informative and on point. Much of what they say applies no less today, especially the characteristics of different hops and how they are used. In effect one can see the genesis of modern hoppy beers, indeed in their birthplace of the Pacific North West.
Charles Finkel, a pioneering importer of distinctive, often artisan beers (via Merchant du Vin) and craft brewer (Pike Brewing, Seattle, WA), makes an impactful statement about palate. He argues that a taste for assertive drinks is a natural human inclination. I think there is a lot of truth in that.
It’s a great snapshot of an earlier time, one I remember well from U.S. travels and early craft days in Canada, but also most relevant to brewing culture today.