Saturday, July 27, 2013

The X IPA

The history of the India Pale Ale provides a rather interesting chapter in the story of beer.  There are many different websites that recount that history, and, I am loathe to add my blog to that list.  However, when I recently tried the Schlafly "English Style Export India Pale Ale," I felt that I should at least inquire into that history.  And, figure out just what is an English Style Export India Pale Ale. 

Well, first things first, an export India Pale Ale is an India Pale Ale.  In other words, it is a pale ale brewed in England that was destined for the subcontinent.  As the story goes, brewers -- such as George Hodgson's Bow Brewery confronted a problem.  The beer transported aboard the East India Trading Company's vessels often did not survive the voyage.   By not surviving the voyage, I mean it was spoiled by the time it reached the subcontinent.  At some point, the brewers figured out that the beer fared much better when a lot of hops were added to the brew.  Those hops helped to keep the beer from spoiling, which made it available to some very thirsty people in India.   

Thus, the use of those hops obviously means that they are the key to a good IPA.   Schlafly notes that, in brewing its English Style Export IPA, it used 100% English hops.  Those hops are East Kent Goldings, Pilgrim, Northdown, Target and Brambling Cross hops.  The brewers also used pale, caramel and biscuit malts, along with a London Ale yeast to brew this beer.

The combination of hops and malts produced an interesting beer.  The beer poured an orange color, with a good, thick foam, along with a fair amount of carbonation.  The brewers suggest a spicy, lemony flavor to their X IPA. The aromatic elements of the beer clearly feature that lemon and other citrus notes.  The beer seemed much lighter than one would expect for an IPA.

In this case, the appearance is not deceiving.  This IPA is a little bit lighter in body than other IPAs that I have tried.  This lightness, which translates into an easiness when it comes to drinking, is somewhat surprising.  The surprise comes from the fact that the beer has a heavy hop presence in its taste.  Those hops provide a citrus punch, which is to be expected from an IPA.

As for pairing this IPA, I think of grilled or roasted meats, such as grilled seafood or roasted chicken.  This is also a beer that would work well with any barbecue, whether you are smoking a pork shoulder or brisket, or having a more informal grilling session with hamburgers or hotdogs.

I have not seen this beer around where I live.  I was fortunate enough to have been given it as a present by some very good family friends.  I am grateful and thankful for their generosity.   What I can tell you is that if you are in the St. Louis area, where Schlafly is based, you should check out this beer.

ENJOY!

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