Dr. Al Haunold – Craft Beer Pioneer


Dr. Al Haunold is a retired United States Department of Agriculture hop breeder. He ran the joint USDA-Oregon State University hop-breeding program in Corvallis for 34 years from 1965.

He arrived from the East to work on the problem of downy mildew in the Cluster hop, then a workhorse of U.S. brewing, as was Oregon Fuggle, both primarily for bittering. Aroma in beer, at the time, was the preserve of fine imported varieties, at least for premium beers. Hops such as German Hallertau and Tettnang; Czech Saaz; and various English hops.

Haunold was an Austrian immigrant who had grown up on a farm about 60 miles from Vienna. He joined USDA after doctoral studies in Nebraska that added to his extensive Austrian qualifications.

He is now a hale 87, and after retirement consulted in various capacities including to Indie Hops in Oregon. Former litigation attorney Roger Worthington, founder of Indie Hops, recognized Haunold’s great expertise. He enlisted his help in the company, a notable supplier to craft brewers. Indie Hops has also funded a hop research program for research on new varieties.

Roger Worthington now also runs Worthy Brewing in Bend, OR. Worthy Brewing will release this year a series of IPAs showcasing hops developed from this program.

Worthington authored a number of key posts on the blog of Indie Hops including this 2010 post on the development of the Cascade hop. This is most illuminating as are the other posts dealing often with hops that proved key to craft brewing, which Haunold bred or helped develop when at USDA/USU.

This brief recent clip posted by Worthington on Youtube is a tribute to Haunold’s great importance to craft brewing history. Haunold had field-tested Cascade (not bred it, that went back to 1956 in Oregon), promoted and believed it, got it to one-acre commercialization scale, and finally got Coors to buy it. Coors encouraged Northwest hop growers to produce it in the amounts needed by industrial brewers.

As recounted in the 2010 post, and by Haunold in a number of oral history interviews, Cascade was developed to substitute for the German Hallertau Mittelfruh. The latter, long used for aroma hopping in America, was sometimes subject to pest problems and its price, to currency fluctuations.

On paper, Cascade looked similar to Hallertau, e.g., the alpha-beta acids ratio. But it proved to have a distinctive geraniol (grapefruit, citric) aroma. This proved ultimately not agreeable to Coors and other large brewers. So the hop, initially grown in large amounts in Yakima Valley and peaking mid-70s in production terms, appeared destined to languish.

When Anchor Brewing and early craft brewers came calling to USDA for ale hops, Haunold recommended Cascade. It was available as well in smaller parcels suitable to ship small-scale brewers. The rest is history, as Cascade proved the keynote flavour of the craft brewing revolution.

While many hops appeared later, including in the “C” series Centennial, Chinook, and Columbus, Cascade proved to be long influential. Many of the later hops resemble it or close enough so that a “Pacific Northwest” character is recognizable.  When you taste IPA from California to Calabria, they often share a characteristic PNW flavour.

Haunold later developed or had a hand in developing 16 cultivars including Willamette, Mt. Hood, Liberty, and Sterling, all craft brewing standbys. He also developed the early high-alpha Nugget, important in industrial as well as craft brewing for its high bittering content.

To understand the state of U.S. hop-growing in 1979, i.e., pre-craft, the following extract from a 1980 paper by Dr. Haunold on world hop-breeding and production is instructive. Bear in mind this is before the new hops mentioned started noticeably to impact U.S. brewing:

The Yakima Valley of Washington, with 8,637 ha of hops in 1978, is the most important hop-growing area in the United States, followed by Oregon with 2,214 ha, Idaho with 1,081 ha, and California with 593 ha (10) (Table III). The most important U.S. hop varieties are Early Cluster, Late Cluster, English (a collective trade name for the English varieties Bullion and Brewer’s Gold), Cascade, Talisman, Fuggle, and Comet (Table III).

Systematic hop research in the United States started at Oregon State University in 1931 when most U.S. hops were grown in that state. The threat of downy mildew similar to that in Germany stimulated a crash program to combat this disease. The Cluster variety was too susceptible to this fungus, and most of Oregon’s Cluster acreage shifted to the Yakima Valley in the 1940s, to be replaced by downy-mildew-tolerant varieties such as Fuggle, Bullion, and Brewer’s Gold.

Fuggle-H, an improved selection of Fuggle, was released for commercial production in 1967 (14), followed by Fuggle-T, a colchicine-induced tetraploid Fuggle for breeding purposes (12). Cascade, an open-pollinated seedling with Fuggle and the Russian Serebrianka in its pedigree, was released as an aroma hop in 1972(4). In 1975 Comet, a high a-acids selection from a cross between a seedling of the English Sunshine and an indigenous American male hop from Utah (47), was released. Two triploid aroma varieties, Columbia and Willamette, which originated from crosses between the tetraploid Fuggle-T and selected male parents, were released in 1976 (11,13).

In the latest of Haunold’s oral interviews, recorded in August, 2017, he gives a wide-ranging account of his life, interesting unto itself. For example, he discusses conditions in his part of Austria during the war and how it affected the family.

He also describes experiences in the U.S. as a young immigrant, learning English (he could speak it well in three months!), and early work which pertained to cereals such as wheat. Asked whether he found Nebraska quite different to home, he indicated of course some novel impressions. He did not and never has accustomed to peanut butter!

On the other hand he met people in the state who spoke German, clearly descendants of 19th century immigrants. The world is not so small really, even then…

The part involving Cascade does not really explore the craft usage of it, this aspect is brought out in other interviews and accounts. We found of good interest his discussion of beer likes and dislikes, see especially from 1:37 in the video.

He was asked, justly, whether he liked beer, as not every technical expert in the brewing field can be presumed to do so. He exclaims that he “always” enjoyed it, not “excessively” but with meals. Asked to explain his preferences, he mentions brands such as Helles Bock of the well-known food and wine retailer Trader Joe, and Full Sail Amber. These brands are notably malty and perhaps reflected tastes acquired in Austria before emigrating.

He discusses how mass market beer has gotten progressively “thinner”, initially to appeal to a wider market including women. Later, he implies cost reduction was behind cutting back on malt content, to reduce impact of smaller sales.

He is no less tart about large-selling German brands. He states that a re-acquaintance with them on a recent trip to Austria reminded him of mainstream U.S. beers 20 or 30 years ago. He seemed to be referring to large-selling brands especially as owned by international brewers, a development he notes, vs. small regional breweries.

He makes clear, when asked his view regarding imported beers, that craft beers, he still calls them microbrewery beers, offer superior flavour.

Dr. Haunold explains that when he embarked on his work, he did not intend to change the taste of American beer. He states the industry did not intend to, either. It was satisfied with the hops then available, and was simply seeking substitutes either due to insufficient supply, especially for the Oregon Fuggle, or the kind of issues noted viz hop imports.

Cascade’s new flavour, proving not appealing to the large brewers who helped fund the work to develop it, happened to be picked up by the new crop of small brewers who came along. It was fortuitous in many ways, in other words.

At the same time, Haunold is undoubtedly a key link in craft brewing history. He stands with figures and organizations such as CAMRA, Peter Austin/Ringwood, Michael Jackson, Charlie Papazian, Fritz Maytag, Jim Koch, and Ken Grossman on whose shoulders stand the achievement of American craft brewing. Indirectly their influence helped spread that culture around the world.

N.B. Although in my writing I’ve often related U.S. craft brewing to British inspirations, here is an example where some Germanic influence, in my view, is evident via Dr. Haunold. While an American resident for over 60 years, as someone who knew fine beer from his native land, I’d have to think in discussions with early craft brewers he encouraged them to maximize the use of both hops and malt in beer. One way or another the influence is there, I think.

A 1982 Beer Program: Some Thoughts

What’s Changed; What’s Not

In paging the (inaugural) 1982 Great American Beer Festival’s program, there are many interesting gleanings.

The hops used are stated for numerous beers including Falstaff’s Ballantine India Pale Ale: Bullion and Cascade, see p. 24. Interestingly, Ballantine IPA also used some corn grits then.

Two years later, in Michael Jackson’s first The Pocket Guide to Beer, he describes the hops (see p. 119) as Brewer’s Gold and “Yakima”. Yakima is not a hop itself (to our knowledge), and probably meant Cascade. But a migration had occurred from Bullion to Brewer’s Gold.

Brewer’s Gold is related to Bullion, both are classic mid-century ale and porter hops. They were bred in England early in the 1900s and have the mixed qualities of native U.K. hops and a wild North American variety culled in Manitoba.

They offered a refined, arboreal taste with a North American undertone, the so-called wild or blackcurrant taste.

The hop bill for Ballantine IPA changed over time in the 1900s before withdrawal by Pabst around 1996. Craft brewer and writer Mitch Steele described yet further approaches taken to the hop bill in his excellent study of IPA in 2012.

The beer was re-introduced by Pabst a few years ago using a number of “new era” (post-1972) hops, in addition to some older varieties. I understand it did not sell in hoped-for quantities and is now retired again.

It is interesting that Ballantine, then a division of Falstaff (now Pabst) was using Cascade in 1982, as it had been released by the USDA for commercial use only 10 years earlier. The beer of course dates from the 19th century.

In our recollection, Ballantine IPA never had a strongly citric note even though Cascade is thought of that way today. It is easy to forget that Cascade, hallmark of modern craft brewing, was designed initially for large brewery use.

It formed some 15% of U.S. hop cultivation in 1975, hence entering into many U.S. beers then including Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve, from Blitz-Weinhard in Portland, OR. This was a reasonably assertive blonde lager that had some influence on craft brewing developments.

Other macro beers used it too but as aroma hopping became de-emphasised in industrial brewing, attention soon turned away, or from any aroma hops. They might still be used but with reduced emphasis being placed on aroma, certainly for Cascade.*

It was picked up by the nascent craft movement which ran with it and to a large extent this created the “profile” of modern craft brewing.

New Albion Pale Ale, the first modern craft beer (1976-early 80s, Sonoma, CA), used Cascade. Boston Brewing Company, makers of Sam Adams, re-brewed it for New Albion’s founder Jack McAuliffe a few years ago. It was a good beer but most agreed the notes considered typical today of Cascade were not pronounced.

Ballantine IPA in 1982 would have been similar. Also, Cascade may have been used in that beer primarily for bittering, as Bullion had been used to distill a hop oil to convey a character similar to dry-hopping. Bullion may have borne the brunt of the aroma character, in other words, later Brewer’s Gold.

In any case, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale really put Cascade in lights, as did Anchor Brewing in San Francisco via its Liberty Ale. Liberty Ale only came out in its current form in mid-1983 although various Anchor beers had experimented with it in the 70s.

Of course later, hop rates increased and with Grant’s India Pale Ale, Stone IPA (it did not use Cascade but the taste is broadly similar in our view), and many more beers a stronger, more assertive Cascade character emerged. Sierra Nevada emphasized the new trend with its Torpedo, a beer that benefitted from a new hop infusion system it devised.

Therefore, there are really three eras of Cascade: the largely macro-brewing period (1972- early 80s); the initial, relatively moderate craft use via avatars Liberty Ale and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale; and the “IPA” era proper when the Cascade, or other hops not so different (Centennial, Chinook, etc.) were given a showcase in the palate.

You can read in the 1982 program the hops used in Sierra Nevada’s beers then – very early offerings as the brewery was barely a couple of years old – and for many other beers listed including the ales of Boulder Brewing in Colorado, a brewery that continues to this day.

In sum, hop characteristics then was an important part of beer appreciation; it still is.

Another part of beer appreciation then has largely lost focus today: recommended timelines for consumption. Even for some long-established, pasteurizing breweries, such as F.X. Matt in Utica, NY, an ideal consumption period is noted. It might vary from a few weeks to six months or more, depending on the brewery.

Today, while all concerned with good beer know the importance of freshness, few would think to inquire in the way the 1982 program does. You see the concern today mostly for New England and other IPA and even then not really for technical stability but to capture the hop character at its best.

There are a number of reasons for the change. First, often it is not possible to know when a beer is produced or at least packaged, date codes are stated in various ways and often not at all. Second, it is generally understood craft beers, with some exceptions for strong beers meant to lay down, aren’t meant to be stored long.

Third, production quality is certainly on average much higher now than then. People expect a decent-tasting product however it reaches them, and usually get it.

As well too, where beers are pasteurized you have the protection of that process. It can push palatability beyond the range considered usual for craft beer. Some craft brewers pasteurize too now, so where available that offers additional protection (perhaps at some cost to the palate but that is a different question).

Since so little distinctive beer was available in 1982, the festival organisers probably felt freshness data might benefit drinkers who encountered the beers later. Clearly the organizers asked each brewery supplying beer about this matter.

And so, if you were lucky enough to get some Boulder Pale Ale, say, in Boston in the 1980s, knowing that freshness was between three weeks and two months might assist your purchase or how you viewed the palate. (I drank it in that period, sourced in western New York, and it was fine).

In any case, it’s not an area not much considered today. One drinks the beer as it comes, and usually it is fine.

For some of the 1982 beers, no ideal consumption period was stated, including for Anchor Brewery in San Francisco which pasteurized and still does. The drinker could then conclude the beer as encountered on the east coast, say, was less affected by time than beers for which freshness was conveyed.

At least, it told them something.

Still, the understanding that time is an enemy of most beer however brewed or processed has always been with us. One 1970s formulation put it colourfully this way: the poor standing in a tasting of a notable European brand no doubt can be ascribed to its seeming to date from the Battle of Waterloo!

N.B. The handwritten notes in the 1982 program are by Charlie Papazian himself. Papazian is co-founder of the American Homebrewers Association and the Association of Brewers, a predecessor to the craft beer’s lobby, the Brewers Association. Papazian is a hugely influential figure in American, and now world, craft brewing. All intellectual property in the program belongs solely to its lawful owner. The images shown appear for educational and historical purposes only. All feedback welcomed.


*See this Jos. Barth world survey, 1976/77 at p 16. It is noted there that Cascade had been grown in quantity in preceding years (from 1972, that is) but did not meet hopes for an aroma hop equivalent to European varieties. This is borne out by later accounts, notably Dr. Al Haunold’s as summarised on this Oregon hops supply website and elsewhere. My take from the various sources is, Cascade did not offer the correct flavour to the large brewers but on the other hand, international lager brewers were in general moving away from accentuating hop aroma in beer.



Beer Boîte

On my trips to Montreal I often visit the Benelux Brasserie on Sherbrooke Street near St. Lawrence Boulevard, the old “Main” storied in novels of writers such as Mordecai Richler and other scribes in Shakespeare’s tongue. (Those writers are now increasingly forgotten in Quebec’s francophone-oriented culture, but times change, so it ever was for one reason or another).

The reason is not that it is the best beer bar in town, although it may well be, but simply that it is closest to where we stay on those trips. We either stay downtown or on the west side. There are many beer specialty bars in the greater Montreal area, but not that many in the downtown “core” or westerly reaches.

Benelux is one. The two others I like closest to it are on boul. St-Denis further east, not that far really, but in winter or when time is tight, I tend to stick to Benelux.

Just below it is the Université de Québec’s Montreal campus, and as students and beer pubs seem to go in hand-in-hand, a better location could not be imagined.

As well, McGill University is just a few blocks to the west, so it will send some students “east” to mix with their francophone counterparts at UQAM.

Still, Benelux is a “franco” hangout, at least by an unofficial sounding of the voices at surrounding tables. Two days ago it was mostly Québecois, a bit of metropolitan French, and one or two English, visiting Americans I think.

The franco atmosphere doesn’t prevent staff from speaking English to all comers and most accommodating they are about it. My French is not so bad – it should be better having grown up in Montreal but I hail from a different time, when anglophones were able to operate more autonomously. Still, retailers in Montreal are accustomed to switch to English, given too many visitors hail from the U.S. or other parts of Canada.

In Michael Jackson’s 1976 The English Pub, he described the “random accoutrements” often seen in Britain’s pubs: mismatched tableware, whimsical or clashing decoration, that kind of thing. This applies well to the Benelux with its concrete “bunker” design of the 70s-80s, bright blue exposed ductwork (like a child’s toy on steroids), and simple plank tables probably meant to evoke wood barrels.

Such incongruent elements are often a sign of the proudly independent beer pub, the precise opposite of the “corporate” style, which is no less valid, just different. Anyway it suits the easygoing atmosphere, reasonable prices, and popular spirit that beer bars at their best exhibit around the world.

The focus is the beer, that’s what’s important at Benelux or any good beer bar! I have never figured out if they brew onsite or somewhere else, it doesn’t matter really. I should add there is a newer Benelux in Verdun, a working quarter about a mile to the southwest, but I haven’t had a chance to visit yet. I think the beer is made at the first site and transferred to the second as needed.

I tend to stick to pale ale/IPA, porter, or lager but numerous other styles are covered. The European connotations of the term Benelux are only loosely applicable, there is usually a Belgian-style offering but “Belge” is not a theme really.

The beers are even better than 10 years ago, when the place started. The only style I’d say they don’t get right, based on past tastings, but almost no one in Quebec does in my experience, is English pale ale or mild/brown ale.

I bought a canned pale ale on the trip, Chipie, from Archibald brewery in Quebec City. The term pale ale in Quebec usually connotes the English style, meaning no evident citric U.S. hopping, a dose of sweetish caramel malt, and moderate bitterness.

Chipie is all that but doesn’t really evoke the Albionic taste, the flowery English hop note I like is missing, and the malt taste never seems quite right.

Maybe those beers reflect more what beer was like in Quebec in the 1920s-1940s. It is satisfying to think that, on the other hand; and they are certainly good session beers in any case, or with a meal.

But the Benelux Catapulte, an American IPA, is faultless, full of flavour and deep malt taste. Their American barley wine, even more so. The Captain Ganache Imperial Porter had a coffee addition, which takes it out of the strict Britannic heritage, but the coffee was handled lightly and it was very good.

The food is “bouffe” style. Hot dog doesn’t describe well the offering of that description, a veal sausage similar to what you get in France with a choucroute. I.e., better than a hot dog nord-americain. And some of that kraut is piled on a stick of French bread, with potato chips and olives on the side. All for a grand total of $4.00 if you buy a full pint. Bon marché.

The panini looked good too, mixing and matching the different culinary traditions that interweave Montreal’s contemporary popular food culture. Smoked meat, bacon, butter chicken, Tex-Mex, guacamole, pulled pork, and more can enter into the panini and wraps on Montreal menus, alone or mixed, and it is pretty good usually.

Another local specialty I saw: fried rice with bits of smoked meat. This started back in the 70s when I still lived there. Fusion with a capital F. How about poutine with General Tao chicken? Or the irony-abounding poutine à la French onion soup?

There was no poutine in Montreal in the 1970s. This unlikely international star of tables popular and even chic is a new traditional food of Quebec. If that makes any sense. Its true roots seem to lie in English mining country, but that’s another story.

The best beer pubs around the world offer what Benelux does: great beer, good prices, détente in atmosphere, and often a discordant design that becomes harmonized under the influence of a beer or two. We’ll see, soon, ce que la francophonie propose dans le même ordre d’idées in Paris and Lille, where Beeretseq wends soon.

This is the current draft beer line-up at Benelux, taken from the pub’s website:

American Barley Wine 2017 8,5%
Armada – Brown Ale Américaine 6,0%
Berlinoise – Berliner Weisse 3,7%
Duplex – Helles 5,0%
Gaïa – Blanche 4,9%
Lux Rousse – Munich Dunkel 5,2%
Nébulose – Assemblage de Saisons – 6,3%
*Capitaine Ganache – Imperial Porter au cacao 7,5%
*Catapulte – American IPA 6,8%
*Beretta – Pale Ale au Sarrasin 4,4%



A Taste of Wine’s History (and Future?)


In the main viticulture areas of Canada, including Ontario, grape types are now mostly Vinifera such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc. This resulted from a conscious effort 40 years ago to improve wine quality. Vinifera types originate in Europe.

Ontario’s Vintners Quality Alliance system (VQA) supports Vinifera wines and a few authorized hybrid varieties. In general, our LCBO, a provincially-owned wine and liquor retailer, sells Ontario wines made from such grapes, vs. say Concord or another of the old-fashioned, North American varieties.

Even to find native grape wines at the winery gate is not common as tax incentives encourage VQA-compliant wines.

Bright’s in Canada markets a couple of fortified wines that are blended with some foreign wine under the “Cellared” system authorized by Ontario law. These blends of wine are not VQA labelled and usually are a blending of Canadian Vinifera with foreign wine to balance out the flavour. It’s a certain segment of the market, often these wines are fairly inexpensive and not usually regarded as connoisseur items.

Bright’s is probably the oldest wine name in Canada with an estate in Niagara. Through a long process of corporate change, the brand is now owned by a group of Canadian wineries, both commercial and estate, purchased some years ago from Constellation Brands in New York by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan.

I bought the Bright’s Tawny brand shown, not because I expected the native variety wine taste, but because I wanted an inexpensive wine to mix with porter and stout. A minor variation of drinking the dark brown or black beer types that originated in London was to add a dollop of port. Sometimes the wine was consumed side by side with the beer.

I wanted to test out the combination and looking for something inexpensive, lighted on Bright’s. I also bought another, similar fortified wine called Imperial. I ended by blending them as the sweetness balance seemed better that way. I put an ounce and half or so in a porter or stout and it adds a fruity tang and some extra body.

When I tasted these wines I realized most of the grape base is surely non-Vinifera, it had a brambly, tangy taste reminiscent of grape juice or jam made from Concord grapes. I must say the taste took me aback as I haven’t experienced it, except in the high-quality, non-foxy Norton Virginia form recently, for many years. There is definitely a musky or wild-type flavour, it reminded me of berries you might gather in a forest, but was certainly palatable and interesting.

As I argued earlier, as local flavour in hops is now prized, why not in wine?  Yet the trends that come and go in the wine business never seem to go there.

The taste reminded me too of not dissimilar sweet wines we used to buy years ago in western New York State, made from Delaware and Catawba grapes as I recall.

The market for these old-style fortified wines, sweet versions of a taste once also in dry red and white form, is today unfortunately said to be for those looking for maximum alcohol at the lowest cost, indeed the bereft in our society including street persons. An article appeared some time ago in our press suggesting a certain irresponsibility perhaps on the part of the producers that market these cheap, higher alcohol products.

I won’t defend them on being a taste of history, as no one I’m sure buys them for that reason except perhaps a few aged persons who remember the pre-VQA environment. On the other hand, alcohol in a free society is for everyone, not just those who can pick and choose what they buy and discriminate.

It’s a market to be served and I don’t blame any company for filling the need, one evidently facilitated too by the current retail system as the LCBO sells the wines, not just the Wine Rack retail stores operated by the brand owner (under certain conditions wines can be sold in dedicated wine stores operated by the wineries).

Still, accidentally that old taste hit me as soon as I tried the drink. I can see it going well with ice-cream, say, or even on its own, why not?  I take a little now and then in that form, after dinner. It’s not worse really than real sherry or port, it’s different, it’s local. (The foreign wine content must be fairly minimal based on the taste).

Sooner or later I believe this long-lost element of locality will return to wine marketing and we will see dry and sweet wines based on native grapes similar to what existed before Prohibition and into the 1960s, but bruited as special. Major structural changes to the industry and its regulating bodies, as well as a sea change in how wine flavour is viewed, would be needed first. It will be a slow process, but I think this will be the next revolution in North American wine over the next 60 years.

You can see the LCBO listing here. The description gets at only part of the taste, the distinctive fruity note is not really brought out.

N.B. The 74 in the brand name surely recalls 1874…



From Madeira to Mild Stout


A curious corner of 19th century medicine was a seeming preoccupation with beverage alcohol. Throughout the century, articles appeared in both U.K. and North American professional journals analyzing different drinks.

Sometimes, the professed object was to ascertain sugars and other constituents apart the alcohol and water, as in the case here. Sometimes a concern to detect adulteration was avowed. Alleged therapeutic functions were also discussed.

Medicine never really shed its regard for alcohol as therapeutic until the 1930s, when finally it was removed from the Pharmocopoeia.

I’ve read a number of these studies over the years, and analyses by other writers on beer history; here is one I did not long ago, viz. a Lancet survey.

The table above, which I hadn’t seen before, is from the report of a London doctor, Henry Bence Jones. It appeared in an August issue of The Medical Times and Gazette, Vol. 9, 1854. Below we see Bence Jones pictured.



The report is of interest on a number of accounts. First, wines, beers, ciders, and spirits are included, grouped together so one can quickly ascertain and compare their alcohol and other indices. The alcohol figures are evidently by volume percentage, here.

The range, say, for fortified wines is fairly similar to today’s, at least the average, around 20% (with some marked variances again).

For dry wines, the numbers are rather lower than modern numbers, no doubt a function of the era’s fruit, yeasts, and viticulture. Look at the classified estates in France, say.

Champagne though is higher than today’s by a couple of points. Perhaps addition of brandy explained this.

The cider numbers, with an interesting comparison between sweet and dry types, seem quite similar to today’s.

In the beer area, the pale ales exhibit probably the higher end of the average gravity of that period. One strong pale ale is stated at an impressive 11% abv. It may have been Thomas Salty pale ale, which was similarly strong in the Lancet analysis, except here the stated gravity is 1034.6. This makes it doubtfully a pale ale, unless of unusual style.

Maybe it was actually a Burton or Strong Ale; there is an ambiguity, at any rate.

At least to an extent, taken with the Lancet’s strong Allsopp and Salt pale ales, it is some support that some strong East India Pale Ale existed in the 1800s. It should be noted as well that numerous Salt & Co. ads in the period list two India Pale Ales; one as such, and one pre-fixed Export …

Further, in 1840 Hodgson’s was said to be a “liquor of “prodigious strength”, as I documented earlier.

The Arctic Ale was the first of a series sent on polar expeditions by Allsopp of Burton-on-Trent in the 1800s. (Salt was also in Burton).

Its strength is an impressive 12% abv, a strong Burton ale. It has been tasted by a few modern beer researchers as some bottles survived from the 19th century.

This the first analysis I can recall for the first version of Allsopp’s Arctic Ale, and it appears the strongest of the group. The Victorian beer writer Alfred Barnard reported a c. 9% abw sample later issued, but the first evidently was stronger. See at pp. 151-152, here.

The initials preceding some beer names are not easy to decipher. “P” for a pale ale is probably Prestopans, a beer regularly covered in similar analyses.

The selections in the chart have a London, West End flavour. I’d guess the selections suggest the type of products chosen by the doctor and his circle for their sideboard.






Draughts of Danish and the Ghost of London Porter

Gleaning Porter’s True Flavour Via a Trip to Denmark

A primary interest of ours in beer studies is to try to understand how beer tasted in earlier times, that is, its actual taste, not its tax features, economic importance, wage structure, technological base, or related social history. These other things are of interest too but mainly as channels to understand flavour. (Not that one can’t get sidetracked by byways…).

There are different ways to get at this, by studying old recipes, technical manuals, popular literature, and so forth, all of which I’ve done.

This post on oak and alder wood’s likely role in kilning porter malt is in line with what I’ll discuss below. Both tie into a number of 18th and 19th century sources on porter, including The London and Country Brewer (1730s) which states that  London brown beer featured a smoky note from wood-kilned malts but the taste softened after long aging of porter in vats.

Robert Stevens was a Hackney resident in the early 1800s and perhaps a religious figure or trader, I haven’t been able to track down much bio. It appears he was involved in Unitarian (church) organization, but beyond that I can find no trace.

He was a correspondent to The Monthly Magazine, a literary and political journal that published some notable writers, including early Charles Dickens. In 1801 Stevens contributed a multi-part series on an overland trip from Copenhagen to Hamburg, thus by coach and horse then.

The account is full of detail on many subjects. In the beer area, he makes an interesting comparison between Danish strong ale and London porter that ends by shedding light on both beers, especially in the light of modern studies.

He states that strong Danish bottled ale was exported to the West and East Indies, was “greatly” improved by the “hot climates”, and was quite similar, not to contemporary London porter, but the original London porter, the porter “of former times”. This is only 1801, only a couple of generations after porter first comes to prominence in English life.

I’ve pointed out before how one can read surprisingly early of a product that the “good old days” have passed. Soon we will be reading that Vermont and Black IPA altered the classic taste of IPA as it was when Bert Grant’s and the early Stone Brewery IPA were on the market.

There is perhaps something of sentiment at work here, the idea that a taste presumed lost parallels or echoes the loss of one’s salad days, or the distant misty time of early heroic ancestors, that kind of thing.

Still, porter had changed in composition by 1800. Historians and researchers, starting with the late economist Dr. Peter Mathias, as well as original sources anyone can consult who knows how, record that by 1800 the mash for porter included pale malt to increase efficiency.

Pale malt has more usable starch for conversion to ethanol than the higher-kilned brown malt. Improved means to test the gravity of worts resulted with other changes to using pale malt with brown malt to increase yields. Pale malt then was kilned with coke, straw or other materials than wood, thus less or no phenolic component entered the grain.

Further, the long-aging of porter was in slow decline and by 1800 much porter was a mix of new or mild porter and old porter drawn from the vats.

Thus, when Stevens decried the porter of 1801, he might have been thinking of a more smoky, darker, and longer-aged version he knew in his youth and perhaps older persons recalled for him, as against a paler, less smoky, milder Mark II version.

We can glean an idea of the original porter since Stevens states that Danish strong bottled ale resembled it especially as exported to distant warm climes east or west.

Some porter was sent out to India, but the improved English beer or at least stable beer associated with India was pale ale, not porter. So Stevens may have been likening the beneficial effects of hot climates on shipped Danish beer to long-vatted English porter.

And this makes sense, as shipping beer afar has long been likened to longer storage in the cool English climate; maturation is faster due to the rocky transport and changing climatic factor.

Some modern writers have speculated that overseas transport to hot climes actually improved beer, versus that is a situation where the beer, especially well-hopped pale ale, resisted reasonably well the presumed ravages of such journeys.

As far as I know, Stevens is the first known source in the colonial period to state that heat improved beer.

The Danish ale in bottle was almost surely brown, strong again, and well-hopped, too. This is pre-lager, pre-Carlsberg: top-fermented beer as all beer was before the onset of industrial bottom-fermentation in Europe later in the 1800s.

How we do know Danish ale was like that? Because Rolf Nielsen told us via his article in 2008 entitled “The Beer of the Danish Golden Age” published initially in the Scandinavian Brewers Review. He explains that in the 1700s barley malt was wood-kilned in Denmark, brown, and smoky in taste from direct contact of the smoke with the malt.

Only from about 1800 in Denmark was malt cured in a way to avoid the smoke taste. This was either from use of different fuels, or channeling the smoke from wood away from the malt as Nielsen discusses.

The newer beers might still be brown though, because even where brown malt was still made it lacked the smoke taste.

Hence arose an anomaly not a little amusing: a brown beer could be white, as the term white beer was applied to pale or dark beers, the criterion being they didn’t taste smoky. As Nielsen puts it in his pungent way (the account gains charm from likely being written in a second language (or translated literally)):

Why in earth call an extremely dark ale ‘white’? Or even more stupid: call it a ‘dark white ale’? And utterly stupid: call it a ‘pale white ale’? Mysterious practices which take place when linguistic colour blindness and a lack of historical knowledge controls the labelling and the marketing of the gradually more rare examples of pale top-fermented, tax-free ale.

In order to understand why the brewers’ of the 19th century were so enthusiastic about the term ‘white’, we have to have a closer look at the period where new techniques within malting had a revolutionary impact on brewing beer in the more advanced craft breweries. It was precisely at the end of the
18th century and in the beginning of the 19th century that the Danes, in general, and the Copenhageners, in particular, had the opportunity to say goodbye to the brown, often smoke flavoured beer….

On the label of the dark Danish beer pictured, you see “hvitdøl” – it means white (or pale) ale. It was a term that became associated with the new non-smoky malts irrespective of the type of beer made.

But the strong Danish export brown ale that brought to mind for Stevens old vatted London porter was almost certainly the older, 1700s type of brown ale explained by Nielsen. Since Stevens likened it to the older porter and there is evidence it was smoky often, the Danish brown ale surely was smoky too, the older type Nielsen identfied before even brown beer became “white”. The direct confirmation of a beer drinker contrasting two beers is still most useful.

Some of the old porter and Danish ale must have been sourish too from the long standing in porous wood or bottle without refrigeration.

The Danish beer was clearly well-hopped. Nielsen states the first (best quality) mash for 1700s brown ale used hops in the boil vs. addition of a solution of hops boiled in water. Lesser mashes got the hop solution treatment.

It is interesting that London-style porter was brewed in the different Scandinavian countries from the early 1800s; it was popular there as of course in Russia and certain areas in the Baltic. In more recent times Denmark had Albani porter (perhaps still), among other reputed brands. Sweden still makes the fine Carnegie porter. Finland persists with Sinebrychoff porter, one of the best of the genre anywhere.

That success may in effect reflect a continuation of an older, local tradition, unless of course those strong smoky browns were themselves emulations of London porter. I’d think not though, judging from Danish brewing history as explicated by Nielsen.

And even if the London porter came first, Stevens’ remarks, in the light of post-WW II research, are still helpful as permitting us to infer both beers were smoky, reduced in hop character, and perhaps a touch lactic or acetic.

What happened to those Danish ales? Nielsen brings matters up to 2011* by noting that top-fermented beers have been re-introduced by modern craft brewers yet often feature, say, American or Belgian influence rather than the ancestral Danish taste.

Perhaps that has changed in the last seven years, but as of 2011 his constatation is a truism exemplified in many other contexts. People always want to follow fashion, so things happening elsewhere get emulated while original, more authentic traditions are forgotten. Perhaps the éclat of American IPA in today’s U.K. is the best example…

Still, Denmark has contributed its rounded, distinctive (or it was) version of blonde lager via Jacob and Carl Jacobsen and Carlsberg. These are names forever imperishable in the annals of brewing accomplishment. Maybe that’s enough.

Note re images: the first image was sourced from the Wikipedia entry on beer in Denmark, here. The second is from the publication identified and linked in the text, via HathiTrust. All intellectual property in both belongs solely to their lawful owner, as applicable. Images are used for educational and historical purposes. All feedback welcomed.


*The article was reprinted that year, in Brewery History, hence using this year for this purpose.







A Speech on Beer in Milwaukee in 1972

If industrial brewing in North America can be viewed as a parabola, 1972 is a perfect year to describe its vertex. In that year, a fine short article was written as the basis of a presentation given at a conference of milk products experts in Milwaukee. The author and speaker was Donald G. Berger of Jos. Schlitz Brewing Company in Milwaukee. He addressed the International Association of Milk, Food, and Environmental Sanitarians. The article was published in its journal, the Journal of Milk Food Technology, you can read it here.

Rarely have I read an article this length that combines so well essential beer history, explanation of beer and brewing ingredients (except hops, but see below), and advances since the 1800s in brewing sanitation, chemistry, and bacteriology.

The only gap I’d identify is an omission to discuss hops in any detail, but no doubt he had to pick and choose within the scope of the presentation.

1972 is of course at a point of sharply rising consolidation in the brewing industry. There were no craft breweries with the quasi-exception of tiny Anchor Brewing in San Francisco. Almost all beer was what is now called the American Adjunct Lager style; ale and porter had practically vanished. There was no wheat beer, no IPA except Ballantine’s, a tiny seller, no flavoured beers, and certainly no sours except failures in the brewhouse to discard.

Berger explained the motive force behind this environment (the emphasis is mine):

The industry trend during the past 20 years has been toward the production of a light beer; see Table 2. The definition for “light” is less satiating, less color, and mild flavor. Although individuals have their own definitions for flavor, we must agree that beer is no longer a robust, hearty, strong-flavored beverage. Most American beer is now refreshing and pleasant tasting. To achieve this change, brewers have gradually reduced the specific gravity of the wort using new varieties of malting barley and by varying the malt/adjunct ratio. Hop flavor has also been reduced. The traditional method of hops utilization was the addition of dried hop flowers or cones to the boiling wort in the kettle. Hop extracts are now in common use.

Reading between the lines, I think Berger had a soft spot for the robust, hearty, strong-flavoured beers of an earlier time – beers of course brought back by the craft brewing movement starting just a few years later.At the same time, he points out that such beers were more easily able to hide faults from poor sanitation in the brewery, use of wooden vessels, multi-strain yeasts – the old way of brewing advances in brewing science had largely rendered void. Many of the brewing advances described are still used today such as hop extracts, use of papain to eliminate protein haze, and certain methods of filtration.

Berger seemed committed, or resigned at any rate, to the dominance of the light beer style, explaining that technically beer was cleaner and better than it ever was. He states a wisdom I have heard countless times from people in the brewing business, something I thought had arisen only after craft beer started:

The darker, strong flavored beers of the past tended to mask nuances of flavor caused by wooden vessels, oxidation, process variations, etc. This masking effect has now been removed and flavors contributed by very low levels of alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, mercaptans, phenols, fusel oils, etc. are discernible to the taste.

As this statement was made in 1972, the idea must have been lore by then in the brewing business, it perhaps arose in the 1930s when the industry started up again and brewing science was significantly ahead of the pre-Prohibition era.

Of course, there is no contradiction between brewing rich-tasting beers and technically clean beers.

Lightness was the post-war mantra and came first – not technical brewing mastery. Craft brewing reversed the emphasis at least in the early decades of the industry, in part under the influence of Michael Jackson who lyricised the Jules Verne-looking plants of old U.K., Belgian, Czech, and French breweries.

Today, most brewers probably agree that a high degree of brewing and packaging sanitation goes with product integrity hand in hand, regardless that is of the style produced.

By the mid-1980s, only a dozen years after Don Berger spoke, beers of the type he considered of the distant past had returned. He must have been amazed to see it happen…

The presentation is unusually “vernacular” in the sense of being largely free from the daunting technical and mathematical intricacy of modern brewing science. The reason is almost certainly not that Berger was a “practical” brewer – the article gives every indication he was a highly-educated production specialist. Rather, he was speaking to professionals in another field of food science, hence probably designing a presentation that was clear to intelligent people not familiar with brewing.

His Table 2 is of particular interest. Sadly, the bitterness units in the first column are not listed as that measure, for IBUs that is, did not exist then. But his article leaves little doubt beer had become less bitter in the interval. Today, Budweiser has about 8 bitterness units – half even of the 1972 average. As Bud was a premium beer then, there is reason to think its IBUs were even higher than 15. (So when people, like me, tell you Bud was better then, there is a logic to it).

His figure of 62% attenuation puzzled me initially and his other numbers don’t work with it, but then I realized that number is real attenuation. The apparent number was 78%, higher than c. 1950. Beer was getting dryer, in other words.

Perhaps due to the de-emphasis in his time on hops, Berger doesn’t discuss them except to note the trend away from hop flowers and cones. He focuses more on malting barley and continual improvement in its types. There is no discussion of barley malt adjuncts except to imply that use of adjuncts such as corn and rice had risen. In consequence, beer was toning down in flavour – again not something one would want to focus on unduly in that context.

Speaking as he was to a group of dairy products professionals, it would be the equivalent of stating that America’s surviving dairies had decided to market a 1% milk as the new standard (which has kind of happened, when you come to think of it!).

I think Berger was one of the real beer people then, real not just in mastering the technical innovations and keeping on top of it, but in appreciating beer’s history and the classic tastes that had largely been erased by his time.

I’d guess when Don Berger had his first taste of Anchor Liberty Ale and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale a smile came to his face.

Note re image: the vintage Schlitz beer advertisement above was sourced from Pinterest, here. All intellectual property therein belongs solely to its lawful owner, as applicable. Used for educational and historical purposes. All feedback welcomed.


Innis & Gunn The Original Barrel Aged

My post yesterday previewed Innis & Gunn’s Blood Red Sky, a strongish red beer using the company’s new Barrel Aged system which puts the barrel in the beer as it puts it, and discussed the new system.

The revamp applies to Innis & Gunn The Original as well, and I was provided, without cost, I mean, a can and bottle each to preview as well. Original comes in both formats.

The beer retains the same medium-gold colour as before, and the same maltiness and non-aromatic but evident bittering. But the oak flavour is better, cleaner and more natural-tasting to my mind.

I’m not sure the typical drinker would notice, but as someone closely attuned to the beer palate I feel I see a difference and it’s for the better.

Generally I drink almost any beer now at the lightest chill possible and I tried the Original both that way and cold. I actually preferred the latter, the maltiness seemed to come out more.

The beer retains its 6.6% ABV, not weak by any means. Maybe draft Original features a lower abv, I’ll check the next time I see it here. Anyway I’ve never been shy to pour in a few ounces of sparkling water to knock down the abv, I wouldn’t do it for the first beer but I would for the second, as in general I find 5%, or between five and six percent abv, an ideal strength for beer.

The company states in the website that the barrel pieces are toasted to different levels. I think probably a deeper toast is used for Blood Red Sky than Original. The BRS has a lightly smoky aroma and undertone in the beer, whereas in Original the wood notes seem milder. I don’t think the type of wood taste in BRS would suit Original, though. There is also the factor that Original uses bourbon barrel wood and rum barrel wood was used for BRS.

I’ve often said that new breweries usually get better over time, refining their recipes and just getting better at the technical job of producing consistent, high-quality beer. Innovation and change are the key here, especially in today’s fast-moving environment.

In the pre-craft era producers often said little or nothing about their products. Today, it’s different as consumers are more engaged. Companies see that consumers want information and most, at least in the craft space, provide it today.

I&G are right to do it especially here as the results redound to the quality of the products, IMO.



Innis & Gunn Blood Red Sky

I was recently provided the opportunity to preview the new Blood Red Sky, a barrel-aged, 6.8% ABV “red beer”. This will replace the current standard rum-finish product.

The use of oak has evolved at I&G. Its first run some 15 years ago, the Original that launched the line, was stored in oak barrels. Famously the containers were intended for use to finish Scotch whisky. The beer was simply part of the processing, not intended for commercial release.

It turned out people liked the beer too and Innis & Gunn Original, and many extensions to the line, followed.

Producing beer on any decent scale in oak containers obviously became an issue in the last dozen years since barrels of any kind (new, used, etc.) now come at a premium. This is due to high demands for barrels to age whisky, wine, and some beer and cider.

So I&G turned to oak chip aging to supplement (by blending) the original process. The original process is also still used 100% for some special releases. I & G has now has introduced its “Barrel Aged” process to replace the chips. Barrels that held say bourbon or rum, are broken into pieces, toasted and the flavour imparted by coursing the beer through sacks holding the barrel pieces.

A description of Blood Red Sky, and note on the new barrel-aging process, are set out at the company’s site here.  The company refers to it as putting the barrel into the beer.

Some may consider this isn’t really barrel-aging, an issue I don’t tarry on as first, any interested consumer today can find out what the company is actually doing, the website makes it all clear. Second, real barrels are used, albeit unconventionally. Oak chips generally are made from oak planking of some kind, toasted or treated in some way but not sourced from a barrel.

(When barrels are broken down to staves and then re-formed into a barrel, often combining staves from as many barrels, that is considered a barrel; so why not this other way?).

I’ll say straight off that this is the best use of oak by the company since inception. I’ve always said that use of barrels in the usual way, especially of North American oak, to hold beer for any length of time seems to impart an oxidation note. Just as it does for wine, or whisky. Some people like that for beer, which is fine, but it’s a taste that can be off-putting when pronounced. The effect for whisky and wine is different somehow; perhaps because of their alcoholic strength or simply that they are different drinks.

With the new I&G barrelling approach, I find the oak taste more subtle and without the oxidative note that accompanies much conventional barrel-aged beer. A strong beer can get away with it if aging is not prolonged and the beer is made right – high hopping helps.  But for anything in the mid-range of ABV certainly, this new way to flavour the beer with the barrel seems ideal. I don’t know if the pieces of barrel have residual oxygen, but in any case this new red beer has no oxidation notes I can detect.

The beer has a nice body and good malty flavour, with good hopping too. Nor is there any strong vanilla or coconut taste, perhaps due to the rum barrel origin, I’m not sure.

It’s an excellent taste and nice to see in a red beer iteration. The colour is very attractive and there aren’t that many beers that offer the red hue really (versus, amber, brown, dark gold). Broadly I’d call it an Irish red ale, a style somewhat unclear in its origins but part of the modern beer lexicon undoubtedly.

A beer to try certainly when generally available here and I believe most beer fans will like it not excluding the hard core crafterati.



India Pale Ale: Icon Sprung From Invoice

A Transformation by Circumstance and History

Dr. Alan Pryor, who holds a M.Phil. and Ph.D. from University of Essex in Colchester, U.K., has published numerous papers in recent years on porter and India Pale Ale history. A number have appeared in the journal Brewery History. His work is compelling, with real insights and novel information conveyed.

In his 2009 paper, “Indian Pale Ale: an Icon of Empire” the following appears:

… Indian pale ale followed the trade routes of the growing British Empire, a reassuring symbol of the mother country in remote areas of foreign lands, gaining a brand identity that would be envied even today. The use of the Anglo-Saxon  ‘ale’ united the ancient tradition of Britain with the unfamiliarity of India, encapsulating the concept of metropole and colony in a single phrase. The development of brand names allowed devotees of a particular product to attach iconic status to their particular preference, whether it be from Hodgson, Allsopp or Bass. In Britain, the idea of empire could now be ‘packaged’ into products where the strange and exotic had been tamed, where India could be experienced with the consumption of a curry, pilau rice and a bottle of IPA.

This is a key insight – that a term, India Pale Ale or East India Pale Ale, acquired a resonance beyond the original, prosaic trade sense.

The term was not initially devised for marketing or romantic appeal. It was a descriptive, commercial formulation. It helped traders and consumers understand that the beer type was suitable for India, at the time reachable only by a long ship journey. Before pasteurization and mechanical cooling, beer was especially fragile. Even strong beer could deteriorate fast under stresses of climatic variations and disruptive transport.

In the 1850 Hodgson’s ad I discussed recently, see here, the brewery explained what made its beer different: more “body” and a special fermentation treatment. This can only mean it was made relatively strong, and fermented as low to remove sugars that might cause an uncontrolled, additional fermentation. It is possible, too, that “body” connoted the idea to maximize the dextrin content. This would increase the available starches for degradation by secondary yeasts (Brettanomyces), favouring more alcohol and, incidentally, the creation of special flavours.

Of course as Dr. Pryor also notes Hodgson’s IPA was extra-hopped, a factor not mentioned in the 1850 ad but understood by most then as a characteristic of pale ale exported to India.

For drinkers in India in the heyday of IPA, say 1780-1880, the name would have remained utilitarian. India Pale Ale or IPA meant an English or other U.K.-origin beer of reliable quality: beyond that nothing was needed. The beer did not need to connote anything special or unusual about its destination, after all the drinkers for whom the beer originally was intended were living there.

But from about 1850 in the U.K. a different connotation arose, the one noted by Pryor. This was encouraged perhaps by soldiers and administrators of the Raj who had returned home, who recalled a staple of India days with a new fondness, or in a new light.

In time, by evocative labels and advertising, producers took advantage of this. The ad below is of this type, in our view, showing not just an important market for Bass but the ambit of Empire at the time.

A dish like kedgeree, based on the Indian rice dish kichiri. The bits of smoked haddock in kedgeree were a U.K. flourish, so the dish offered something familiar and yet different, foreign. The same for curries, as most were based on lamb and beef, a familiar comestible in Britain, but rarely eaten by most of the Indian population, especially Hindus.

IPA was similar in the sense of bearing characteristics not typically British (the high hopping of pale ale, the high attenuation, the very name “India” in the name) with a familiar, English-made product, beer.

And so Bass, and the other pale ale brewers who superseded Hodgson, benefitted at home from this new association. It was reinforced by the reports of travellers that Bass Pale Ale, and often Allsopp’s or Salt’s beer, were available almost anywhere one could journey. They were associated with the Empire, or at least Empire trade. Reports had them in France, Brazil, Patagonia, Quebec, or Peking, among many examples. Hodgson’s beer was the first to acquire a global connotation, and became iconic. Later, Bass took that over, and Allsopp, and expanded it.

Products like IPA hence gained an ineffable quality from being both foreign and domestic. There wasn’t a single foreign material in IPA, but it didn’t matter: an attractive foreign quality resulted from the India designation and ads like Bass’.

Guinness stout was different in my view because when exported, it was not really the same product at home, but stronger and more tart, and never acquired the same notoriety as IPA. In any case, the terms Foreign Extra Stout or West Indies Porter, evocative as they may sound to some today, never caught on in Ireland or the U.K. in the same way as IPA.*

This special quality attaching to IPA, to the extent it existed (and one should not overestimate it in Britain)  disappeared after WW I. Bass’s advertising in the 1930s became more “domestic”, focusing on humour, sports, and the usual modern formulas. Others brewers followed. Empire was quickly losing its appeal in the popular imagination with the rise of nationalist sentiment, costly wars, and costly League of Nations mandates.

Then came the beer renaissance.

Author and journalist Michael Jackson may have created – did, imo – the idea of “Imperial” Stout. It arose from the stories he recounted about Catherine the Great, Florence Nightingale, and the Crimean War. The period illustrations in the book, well-chosen and reproduced, helped.

But he didn’t do this for IPA. In his original (1977) and later (1988) world beer guides IPA appears briefly, in the pale ale chapter.

in the early 1980s the American craft brewer Bert Grant put an evocative Taj Mahal design on his Grant’s India Pale Ale bottle. Only then did the idea slowly emerge that IPA had a special quality.  It was Pryor’s reassuring and familiar (beer) with the “unfamiliarity” of India.

He was abetted in this in my view by the reputation in pre-craft, connoisseur circles of Ballantine India Pale Ale, made by a large industrial brewery.

Ahead of the craft era, a sailing ship featured on the buff-coloured label, with a story how a rocking, quaint-looking ship enhanced the product.

IPA as a genre became successful in part due to this “new” dimension, but has now lost it surely. Few of its drinkers know much about the history, after all. The interest today is in all the various types of IPA. Still, a kind of mystique helped put craft IPA on the American stage, and something similar preceded this in the U.K. in the latter 1800s and early 1900s.


Some last comments, on Bass Pale Ale in that period. It was so famous, so ubiquitous, that people who didn’t love beer became annoyed to see it “everywhere”. In 1875, Edward Young, an economist with the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, wrote a book on labour and wages overseas.**

He noticed the great amount of drinking that went on and discussed the importance of breweries, Bass in Burton-on-Trent especially. He wrote (see pp. 400-401):


Throughout Europe and America, and in countries which the traveler rarely visits, the name of Bass is well known. In places where the immortal works of Shakespeare are unread, the products of Bass are familiar; ears which have never heard the classic name of Stratford-upon-Avon, are not unused to Burton-on Trent. It was hoped by an inexperienced American, when leaving London— whose placarded houses and walls proclaimed the virtues of the ale or porter of different and rival brewers—that by crossing the Channel he would escape from the ubiquitous Burton brewer, but the first English words that met his eyes as he sat at breakfast at Dieppe were “Bass’ ale.” At the far East this ale was seen not only in the modern but in the renowned ancient capital of Russia,[1] and at the great fair at Kijni Novgorod on the far off Volga, as well as in the usual routes of travel in Central Europe; at the West, in the floating palaces which traverse the Atlantic, and in New York, Washington, and throughout the United States, even to the shores of the Pacific, Bass’ ale can be procured. And it may be doubted whether there is any spot upon the globe, where civilized people dwell which is unsupplied with the malt liquors of Bass, Allsopp, or other English brewer. Although the evils resulting from the continued use of strong beer are painfully apparent in Great Britain, yet it does not easily intoxicate. Taken at meals or with bread, forming as it does a chief article of consumption, it is apparently harmless; but its excessive and long-continued use, especially at night and when taken by itself, produces most injurious effects. The beer of Germany, especially of Bavaria, which forms a staple article of consumption, must be much lighter, for in that country intoxication is infrequent. Indeed, the consul of the United States at Chemnitz remarked, “Judging from the quantity a native can consume, I apprehend that one will stagger quicker from the weight than the strength of the potion.” In England, small or light beer has been in general use for many centuries, and was a common beverage long before the introduction of tea. Indeed it is a little remarkable that while the use of beer does not diminish, that of “the cup which cheers but not inebriates” has greatly increased, until the average consumption, in that country has reached four pounds per capita. To those who need or think they need some stimulus, the use of malt liquors is far less injurious than spirits. The intemperance which so generally prevails in Liverpool, Glasgow, London, and Antwerp, where West India rum and other spirits are largely consumed, attests this fact.


[1] In 1789 a consignment of twenty half hogsheads of ale, containing 789 gallons, was made by a Burton brewer to Saint Petersburg, and in exchange requested the shipment of pipe and hogshead staves. Mr. Bass, like Mr. Guinness, in Dublin, and the late Mr. Vassar of this country, has distributed large sums in benevolence. A church was pointed out to the writer in Burton, costing some £25,000, and another situated elsewhere, which were built at his sole expense. Possibly there is some connection, other than alliteration, between beer and benevolence.

Note re images: the first image above was sourced at this puzzle library site, the second from this Falstaff history website, and the third from a beer label collector’s site, here. The quotation is from Edward Young’s book referenced and linked in the text. Images and quotation appear for educational and historical purposes. All intellectual property therein belongs to their sole owner, as applicable. All feedback welcomed.


* There is a limited exception for Imperial Stout but its market was so tiny as to be imperceptible.

** Young was actually Nova Scotia-born, and returned to Canada at one point to help negotiate the financial terms of Confederation.

Note re images: the first image above was sourced at this puzzle library site, the second from this Falstaff history website, and the third from a beer label collector’s site, here. The quotation is from Edward Young’s book referenced and linked in the text. Images and quotation appear for educational and historical purposes. All intellectual property therein belongs to their sole owner, as applicable. All feedback welcomed.