“ … IPA was a beer born of necessity: the colonial British of the East India Company were sweating in their red coatsin remote parts of the sub-continent and were simply not content with drinking tonic.”
Epic sea voyages are an integral part of beer’s global history and expansion, and arguably the most famous travel tale is that of the India Pale Ale (IPA) which owes its existence as a distinct style to the sea journey between England and India in the 19th century.
The IPA was a beer born of necessity: the colonial British of the East India Company were sweating in their red coatsin remote parts of the sub-continent and were simply not content with drinking tonic. While the value of tonic and the anti-malarial quinine properties it contained cannot be understated - not to mention its ability to provide a pleasant mixer for Gin - what the men particularly craved was the home comfort of an English Ale. And after several years spent in the oppressive Indian heat, that seems to be quite a reasonable craving.
The problem for the thirsty colonists, and indeed for the brewers, lay in the perishability of the product. As anyone who has baked bread will know, one of the keys to the success of the mixture is ensuring the yeast is allowed to go through its normal life cycle. Because yeast is a living organism it is sensitive to the environment around it, and if the conditions are not suitable your dough will not rise. This is no different to the brewing process where yeast, through some form of ancient magic, transforms sugars into alcohol. The main enemies of yeast in brewing are excessive light and heat. Too much of either will turn an ‘ale’ into a ‘fail’.