In the age of Black Lives Matter is it time to re-name India Pale Ale?

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2021 by kmflett

In the age of Black Lives Matter is it time to re-name India Pale Ale?

With pubs in England set re-open outside from 12th April, draught beer can once again be enjoyed. Some of this will no doubt be the currently very popular beer style (or perhaps styles)IPA.

Beer writer Matthew Curtis @totalcurtis has raised what the name is historically about on twitter and pondered if its time to stop using it. Certainly a good deal more could be done to make drinkers in 2021 aware of what originally lay behind the name of the beer they are drinking.

I know Boris Johnson & Co think British colonialism represented progress in history but that progress was often brutal and bloody.

Calling the beer not IPA but something else might be one option though and historically there are examples. After all is not Fuller’s Extra Special Bitter (ESB) a classic IPA? That’s another debate as many would call it a strong ale and any way it is not historic, dating back only to 1971.

Pete Brown has dealt with some of the debates around IPA here:

The link with various aspects of far from always great British imperial history is difficult to avoid.

What did the ships that took IPA to India return to Britain laden with? As often Martyn Cornell has an answer, in relation to a ship returning from Calcutta in 1838:

cargo including raw cotton, 83 elephants’ tusks, coffee, wool, pepper, ginger – and opium

In other words profitable parts of British imperial rule that should have gone to those who laboured to produce them in India.

In short, enjoy the IPA but keep in mind its history and that Black Lives Matter

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