Name of beer
Wild Raven Black IPA
What the brewer says
“Wild Raven pours dark with a beige head. Aromas are of intense pine hops and sweet roasted malt. Flavours are a complex combination of bitter chocolate with pineapple and orange preceding a long bitter finish.”
I can still remember the first time someone posed the question to me: “What does IPA stand for?”
It wasn’t that the person was asking me to tell him the answer. He knew the answer. He was merely emphasising his incredulity that the beer I’d been served was an IPA. I can’t say I’d really thought too much about it up until then. To me, the label IPA merely meant that it was a beer characterised by a hoppy taste, something I generally find very nice.
In case you are a beer newbie, the answer to his question is “India Pale Ale.”
The beer I was drinking at the time was not pale in the slightest.
IPAs were first invented by the English to solve a very specific problem. Having colonised India, it took six months to ship goods, including beer, out to the East. The beer was going off. That just wasn’t cricket.
A fuller history is available in this article from the Guardian, but in short, the English created IPAs, which lasted much longer, thus surviving the journey and surely diverting a crisis of epic proportions. Eventually, the style pretty much died out until the Americans revived it and then the English copied and started brewing IPAs again.
The term IPA, however, is no longer exclusively related to pale ales, and Wild Raven, from Thornbridge Brewery, in Bakewell, is an example of an extreme diversion from that terminology.
In terms of this particular beer, the brewer’s own notes, above, are pretty much spot on, though you have to really focus to pick up on the “pineapple and orange”. I can’t say that worries me too much, to be honest. What it is, is a really nice beer, with a mild hoppy aroma and mid to strong hoppy taste with a pleasant lingering aftertaste.
Oh, and it comes in 500ml bottles, so it’s not gone in a flash.
The history of IPA is an interesting one, but the term India Pale Ale is no longer a true reflection of all that the style represents, but with black IPAs such as this, it’s fair to say that it is alive and kicking in all its shades.
It's worth noting that I picked this up from the Little Leeds Beer House, which is a fantastic little shop in the Corn Exchange, Leeds.
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I’m 44, I don’t (always) have a beard (partly because when I try it is patchy, has gaps, with ginger and grey bits) and don’t take a clipboard to the pub. So, I’m not the stereotypical real ale fan of old, in the style that I was always told to look out for...read more