‘Real’ IPA

Scottish craft brewer ages beer at sea producing ‘authentic’ IPA

A Scottish brewery claims to have produced the first authentic India pale ale in almost 200 years by ageing the beer aboard a trawler in the North Sea.

BrewDog, a Scottish micro-brewery based in Fraserburgh, has used an original recipe to produce the ale, which was traditionally matured during the 100-day sea journey from Britain to India.

BrewDog’s owners James Watt and Martin Dickie prepared eight oak barrels which spent seven-and-a-half weeks aboard the Ocean Quest, a mackerel trawler captained by Watt, who is also a fisherman.

During the journey the casks were lashed by towering waves and covered in snow. One barrel had to be salvaged from the sea after it was washed overboard.

Dickie said that the traditional India pale ale was given its distinctive taste by the way it aged in the barrels, which were tossed around and subjected to large fluctuations in temperature during the journey.

“It had to be drinkable by the time it reached India, which is why it was very strong and high in hops,” Dickie said. “Ours were at sea for seven-and-a-half weeks, so it’s not exactly historically correct, but it was the best we could recreate.

“With all the motion of the sea, the oxidation in the barrel would have been brought on quicker than if they were sitting in a warehouse. Some interesting flavours were also introduced, like the wood of the barrel, but also the fruity flavours brought on by the oxidation.”

Dickie said he discovered the 200-year-old recipe among his collection of books on beer.

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  1. lhall says

    Weren’t the wooden casks used to transport beer lined with pitch to prevent oxidation and wood flavors? I thought that this idea that IPAs of yore had barrel aged flavors had been disproved a long time ago.

  2. beerking1 says

    grassrootsvt wrote: All questions will be answered… I thought that they were joking about losing a barrel over board… I stand corrected!

    Since it was a fishing trawler, they probably had the nets and derricks onboard to lift the barrel with littel effort. (I bet a net full of mackerel weighs a LOT more than 500#).

    Agree that Sammie C at DFH would have jumped at this if he had thought of it! 😀

  3. MatthewS says

    I hung with James a bit last week here in MA, and he was very excited about this project. Sounded to me like he actually road the overboard cask back up the boat after diving in to hook it back up the winch.

    Great marketing for sure… but his beers are quite good regardless!

    Look forward to this one.