Following a different passage to India ?


There are certain expressions in life which often ring true. ' Familiarity Breeds Contempt '  is a powerful saying, which in many contexts does indeed prove to be true.

But, conversely, familiarity can also breed a certain admiration.

We sometimes come across a product that proves to be so familiar that we tend to forget the very reasons why we return to it again and again. Initially this product must have stood out, possibly on one, or several levels, but gets filed away in our mental recesses as new products begin to shine!  

Brooklyn Breweries East India Pale Ale is one such beer. But whilst it has its admirers, it seems to have a fair degree of dissenters too - but are they missing the point ?

The US reinterpretation of the IPA style has to be one of the great success stories of recent brewing history. These beers are often ' hop driven ' and delicious, using a myriad of hops skilfully blended to produce subtle nuances with exciting hop flavours and aromas.

They have also become extremely popular in the UK, so much so that British brewers, both micro and regional are using them to great effect, following the American lead.

In the US the style has also taken on a ' Regional ' significance with the North West claiming to produce a distinction all of its own, along with others, such as the ' San Diego Style IPA '  as envisaged in the stunning Green Flash Imperial IPA .

The US is also the home of the ' sub style '  where a number of variations of a beer theme exist, which whilst this may be lost on some consumers, is appreciated by the dedicated enthusiast nevertheless!

What is interesting with the Brooklyn EIPA is it does not aspire to fit into any of these home-grown categories, and this is perhaps where the problem lies. 

Brooklyn's EIPA is not so much a ' reinterpretation ' of the IPA style but an ' interpretation ' of the British theme. For those expecting a beer that delivers those dazzling hop aromas and flavours they may well be disappointed as the Brooklyn brew is obviously following a different trajectory. 

The beer is brewed to the true export strength of 5.9% alc/vol. but the overall flavour, which is very well balanced, chooses to use the resinous flavours generated by the hops as the backbone of the brew, rather than aiming for aroma in the US tradition, and is not overtly hoppy but more subtle. 

The intention then has been to produce a beer in the British IPA tradition rather than the US style, which is markedly different, and often seems to be overlooked.

Two further clues exist on the label to tell you what  flavours may lay within.

The use of the name ' East India Pale Ale '  rather than the more colloquial ' India Pale Ale ' or ' IPA ' is an acknowledgement of the part played by the influential East India Company who encouraged the initial trade to India, and subsequent competition amongst the British breweries.

The reference also to George Hodgson is a further clue of the intended style, as it was he who historically produced the first EIPA to successfully make its mark in India. With his brewery located by the River Lea, close to the East India Docks in London, he was in an ideal position to take advantage of his location, and designed a new style of beer to slake the thirsts of the troops and colonists stationed there.

So whilst Brooklyn EIPA may still remain a bit of an anathema in its country of origin, it remains a less enigmatic brew in the country it chose to emulate.

Perhaps the key to understanding the beer lay in perception, rather than preconception...


For further information on the brewery go to: http://www.brooklynbrewery.com/

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