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Damn Pete Brown: The best beer trip ever

Pete BrownAuthor Pete Brown – who is having way too much fun in his role as “the second-best beer drinker in Britain!” – has talked Coors into letting him take a pin (small cask) of India Pale Ale from its White Shield brewery in Burton-on-Trent and transport it to India in much the same manner the highly hopped beer would have traveled in the 19th century.

Not everybody would consider this the best beer holiday ever, but if you care about IPA and its history this might be better than a visit to Belgium or one to Bavaria. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip. You can go to Bamberg next year.

The Morning Advertiser provides the details (they wrote “pint” but must mean “pin”):

He’ll follow the route round the Cape of Good Hope, taken throughout the first part of the 19th century before the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 shortened the journey.

Working with Coors brewer Steve Wellington, Pete will take to Bombay a pint of IPA brewed by Steve in Burton-on-Trent, Staffs, exactly as it would have been in 1820.

He sets off from Burton by canal in mid-October, spends a month on a P&O cruise ship, jumps on a 19th-century three-masted tall ship for the passage round the Cape, then spends a month on a giant container ship before arriving in India in late December.

Martyn Cornell provides more perspective:

“I’ve been saying for several years that a British brewer really ought to take a cask of well-hopped IPA and ship it to India to see what happens to the flavour – the Norwegians still do a similar thing with Linie Akvavit, though that goes to Australia and back, rather than the sub-continent.”

Which brings us to . . . an article in the new All About Beer magazine (dated September and with Dave Alexander on the front) titled “IPA Master Class.” From Roger Protz. But only half the story.

The cover touts the “Search for Authentic IPAs.” That means, I guess, that Stone IPA, Victory HopDevil and Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale aren’t authentic.

Te article provides important historical perspective about both IPA history (credit London before Burton-on-Trent) and the impact IPAs had on pale lagers. You need to read more, right?

I just wish that Protz, or AABM with a companion story, had got to American IPAs. A heck of a lot more drinkers consume US-brewed IPAs these days than those brewed in the UK. And these are beers that showcase Northwest hops.

Protz lists his personal Top Ten IPAs, with five from America:

– BridgePort IPA
– Brooklyn East India Pale Ale
– Goose Island IPA
– Sierra Nevada IPA
– Pike IPA

Great beers every one, but are they the first ones you think of when you say I’ll have an IPA?

But back to the top, the Morning Advertiser reports that Brown intends to write a travel book, rather than a beer book, about his journey. I can’t wait.


6 Responses to Damn Pete Brown: The best beer trip ever

  1. maeib July 29, 2007 at 10:50 am #

    I agree that there are much better IPAs out there than Roger Protz’s list. Of course we don’t get a lot of American IPAs over here, but with his contacts he should be able to get better. I once watched Roger try Hogs Back BSA, which is certainly hoppier than the average UK beer but nothing compared to a lot of US stuff, and exclaim “Wow that’s bitter”.

    He really needs to get out more bless him

  2. Pete Brown August 3, 2007 at 11:38 am #


    You shouldn’t believe everything you read in the MA – especially the fine detail. But the trip is happening and the book will be out in the Uk in Summer 08. I’ve had tentative interest from a US publisher and am desperate to get a US release, given that IPA is now way more popular with you guys than it is here.

    I’m just waiting for one final piece of the journey to fall into place – the canal journey from Burton – and then I’ll be doing a proper announcement.

    On the question of beers – there are quite a few things Roger and I don’t agree on, and I’ll hopefully be well out of the country by the time he realises I’m upping the ante on writing about IPA, but I do have a lot of sympathy with him regarding IPAs – as maeib says, we get very few American beers in the UK. And while it’s great to come over and try them at the GABF, time and the capabilities of the palate are limited! Once I’ve done the India trip, if anyone would like to commission me to travel across America searching out the best and/or most authentic American IPAs, I’d be only too happy to oblige…

  3. Stan Hieronymus August 3, 2007 at 2:05 pm #

    Pete – I was hoping you could make to the the GABF before you start your trip. It would seem like a proper send off, a good look at where we are now before digging into the past.

    So consider yourself invited (get here and we’ll supply the beer).

  4. Pete Brown August 6, 2007 at 12:53 am #

    Would have loved to have been able to do GABF – unfortunately I’ll be in the mid-Atlantic by then. Have been for the last two years and had an amazing time there. I certainly want to do credit to the modern American IPAs in the book. It would be good to hear what you guys really rate as the best ones – I know the ‘extreme’ IPAs that are moving the style forward and creating something new are maybe the most interesting, but what about the classics of the style? Are there any that endure year after year, or does it keep changing?

  5. Stan Hieronymus August 6, 2007 at 3:36 pm #

    Brewers are still crafting excellent new IPAs (which include those in the manner of British IPAs, more assertive American IPAs and all kinds of Double IPAs) but that doesn’t mean the standards don’t endure.

    Maybe we can talk about that AFTER you trip – not far off, eh?

    You might have mentioned that you posted details. Go read, folks.


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