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.