Monday, 20 July 2009


Flicking through a copy of The Compleat Imbiber 2, published in 1958, I came across this paragraph in an article entitled Imbibing in Britain: ‘The favourite sherry, during the first half of the nineteenth century, was Old Brown or Old East India — so-called because it had purposely been shipped out to the Indies and back again, the motion of the vessel being held, not without reason, to improve it.’ This begs the question, was this mode of sherry improvement influenced by the success of IPA’s long journey to India?

It seems singularly apt on reading these words a couple of days after getting a bottle of Atlantic IPA, BrewDog’s self-proclaimed sea-aged IPA, which they say is the first commercially available sea-aged IPA in two centuries. It’s not the first sea-aged IPA since the 1800s though, Pete Brown did that for Hops & Glory, but I have to agree that it is the first ‘commercially available’ one. Clever things words.

The Compleat Imbiber was a regularly published hardback of articles on food and drink (mainly wine, though beer does occasionally crop up), with writers such as Elizabeth David, Kingsley Amis and Auberon Waugh contributing — I have a few and they are fantastic to browse through, a world away from celebrity chefs and the ilk. They were edited by Cyril Ray, father of wine writer and British Guild of Beerwriters member Jonathan Ray. You can usually find them in secondhand bookshops for a fiver or so.

1 comment:

  1. Well, Pete says the wine trade, and Madeira in particular, pre-dates IPA. Wines seem to have been the first commodity to have been perceived as benefiting from the journey.