Tuesday, 17 May 2011

A Modern Day IPA sea voyage by Ship (nothing at all to do with The hunt for the NorthWest passage).

 I have to start with an apology to all who read this.
Sorry, but there are no tall ships in this blog post and we didn't go near the equator.
Or India..
You will also notice the total absence of Oak Barrels,
Stunsails(love that name) or indeed any time machines.
Deprivation never raises its emaciated head.

Nonetheless, Strange are the thought processes of the beer geek, you may yet find some entertainment in the following......

Twas a dark and stormy night and i was abed, aharrrrrr (sorry couldn't resist). Actually, it was evening and the sea was flat calm with excellent visibility to the horizon! I was off shift and finishing Hops & Glory by Pete Brown for the 2nd time.A Hugely enjoyable read. Pete's a bit of a wimp in the beginning. hats off though, he seems to have wrote it the way happened and he toughened up and got on with it eventually!

Hops and Glory: One Man's Search for the Beer That Built the British Empire

I digress, while reading the book i realised that by a remarkable co-incidence that there were two bottles of my IPA's aboard the ship.One of each of the recipes below.

Hop Bomb Double IPA(5 gallon, Dec 2009) 
4.25 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter
2.00 kg Wheat Malt
0.80 kg Pale Malt (2 Row) UK
0.80 kg Munich Malt
3.50 oz Glacier (90 min)
3.50 oz Northdown (90 min)
1.50 oz Pearle (60 min)
1.50 oz Styrian Goldings (10 min)
1.00 oz Bramling Cross (5 min)
3.50 oz Styrian Goldings (1 min)
2.00 items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 min)  
US-05 yeast 
ABV 7.3% 
Bitterness: 204.9 IBU
 White Star IPA(6.5 gallon batch, June 2010)
5.00 kg Pale Malt
2.00 kg Munich Malt
2.00 kg Wheat Malt,
0.15 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L
30.00 gm Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 min)
1.00 oz Chinook (90 min)
3.50 oz Bobek (90 minFWH)
1.80 oz Styrian Goldings (90 minFWH)
1.00 oz amarillo(90 min FWH)
1.00 oz simco(90 min FWH)
1.00 oz Chinook (15 min)
0.45 kg Honey last 10 minutes of boil
1.00 oz Amarillo Gold(3 min)
1.00 oz Simcoe(3 min)
2.00 oz Amarillo Gold(1 min)
2.00 oz Simcoe (1 min)
2.00 oz Amarillo Gold(Flame out)
1.50 oz Chinook (Flame out)
2.00 oz Simcoe (Flame out)
1.00 oz Williamette [5.50 %] (Flame out)
0.95 oz Orange Peel, Bitter (Boil 5.0 min)
2.00 items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 min)
3.1 oz Whisky barrel Oak Chips ( 5 days)
1.5oz simco dry hop (5 days)
1.5 oz amarillo dry hop (5 days)
US-05 and Whiteshield Yeasts
ABV 6.2%
IBU 105

Notes from memory on these beers

The White Star IPA is a nice mix of American and British Influence. I think this is the last bottle in existence. When i made this beer i was imagining what an IPA onboard the Titanic may have been like. Last time i tried it the beer was nice and complex with a lot of the Hops still present. Becoming nicely balanced.

The Hop Bomb Double IPA is a more traditional take on a Scottish 1800's IPA. it was cold fermented during Winter 09. Last time i tried it (4 bottles left after this one's gone) it was a super smooth beer with a nice citrus twist. It was in fact reminiscent (slightly) of Lockets throat lozenges. Hey this isn't a bad thing just a hint of what i was getting! I'd put this beer up against anything from Belguim, that's how good i think it is.

Both beers were bottled with live yeast and are crystal clear. Currently they are acclimatising to the atmosphere here in The Baltic in a workshop.

Further waffle

These IPA's arrived aboard the ship on the 24th Oct 2010 so have been here for just under 7 months. In that time they have traveled from Norway to Russia (Vyborg), via Sweden and then on to Denmark, they have also been to the shores of Northern Germany and just skiffed past the edge of Estonia whilst thumbing their noses at the gunboats.
For those whom Geography is not a strong point this means the IPA spent seven Months on the Baltic Sea.

SO, what do you call a beer that was brewed in its original form for the Indian market in the 19th Century.. Instead, this beer was brewed in the 21st century for no market whatsoever and went for a half year journey up North. Is it now a Baltic IPA? Not sure at all as the ships i work on are air conditioned and have a good level of stabilisation so i can't say that the journey will have had any impact on the beer..

Cards on the table now. There's no way i am trying to draw any real comparisons between the changes that go on in an Oak cask on a wooden sailing ship heading to India a century and a half ago and a beer brewed and bottled in Scotland, cellared for up to a year then flown across the North Sea to Scandanavia brought aboard a ship. Taken to Sea for Seven months and then opened...... IPA's got no chance!

Long live BIPA!

In truth of course it doesn't matter what we call it as its just beer, BUT there is (to my mind at least) a seductive side to IPA which is inextricably bound with the history of the beer. I like the romantic idea of sailing to India on a wooden hulled sailing ship stuffed full of top class 'improving as we go' ale. Gloss over the scurvy, East India company, exploitation, interesting Tropical diseases, early death and it does seem romantic! I guess that's why i wrote this, i see the slight lines of comparison but don't take them seriously, just tickled by the co-incidence.

Fair enough but this leads me onto the bit i really like about beer. The social aspect. I am planning to open these two bottles when the ship gets to port (hopefully Friday 20th May). I expect that i will be able to stretch the taste session out to maybe 8 participants, most of whom don't have a clue about 'real' beer. I can't wait to see their reactions and what if anything has changed in these beers during their air conditioned stabilised (mostly) 1/2 year voyage. 21st Century IPA, doesn't need to look back to ground itself or to move forward, this is as legitimate as it gets!

Back onto the subject of the social aspect of brewing. A couple of years ago i was in Amsterdam and i went to 'De Prael' brewery. The beer was excellent but that's not the reason i mention it. The brewery owners employ a number of people who are ex-patients recovered/recovering from mental illness. It works as a step in reintegrating people back into the working world in a nice stress free environment.. 


I have to admit i was slightly freaked out by the experience especially when i was down in the wet slightly dark brewery conditioning cellar with a few people who didn't appear to be 'all the way back yet'. I gave myself a mental slap (no pun intended) and put a great big smile on. I didn't do too much direct eye contact and asked some questions about conditioning time in the tanks for the beer!

The brewery tour guide on the day was brilliant and i'll be going back next time my feet hit the Amsterdam cobbles and i've got a bit of time to spare. Its a great brewery, its got a brewpub just round the corner, the beers great and its only 5 minutes walk from the red light district heading towards centrall station.

Another excellent example of the social aspect of brewing and helping some of those who need the help to come back the most. Cheers, i'm looking forward to Friday night. I'll post a couple of photo's after and see if i can get some opinions out of the tasters without them swearing too much! No promises though.....

Edit 19/05/11- Both beers opened and sampled. Both very nice, The White Star was still slightly bitter whereas the Hop Bomb was smooth beyond expectations. Half the testers preferred White Star while the other half preferred Hop Bomb! All concerned thought both were excellent beer and nothing like they were expecting. Great result all round but sadly there was no big change in the beers for being onboard a modern ship for 7 months! Sorry no photo's but it was spur of the moment and i don't wish to incriminate the guilty. Cheers! :-)

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