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The hoppy taste of imperialism

by on August 3, 2012

Rudyard Kipling, the mouthpiece of British imperialism, supposedly said: “Payday came and with it beer.”

Did he mean, as most working stiffs think,  that with payday you finally can buy beer? Or that a British soldier’s pay in India also included a ration of brewski?

I pondered such things Thursday night as I drank a trio of Squatters India Pale Ales–Squatters IPA, Hop Rising and the new Monsoon Monster– and experimented in pairing them with Indian food at Bombay House. (Believe it or not, I also had a rare paycheck in my wallet.)

As every beer lover knows, legend has it that IPA was brewed with more hops and higher alcohol to withstand the long voyage to India on sailing ships.

But other 18th Century sources offer a more mundane story: The brewer that made the hoppy ale that would become IPA offered a better credit line to the British East India Company. Fortunately, the ur-IPA also managed to stay drinkable after months at sea. (Of course, what beer would not taste good to the grunts who were defending a tropical India.)

The gathering to celebrate International IPA Day was a flashback to colonialism, with a British-born brewer (Peter Cole) serving the IPA and handsome Sikhs creating a banquet of Indian food, including chicken makhani, daal maharani, veggie coconut kurma and chertinad lamb (an absolute knock out with the Monsoon Monster).

Keep in mind that the Queen Vic’s empire was not won on 3.2 beer. The IPA,  Monsoon Monster, and Hop Rising clocked in at 6.5 percent, 7.3 percent and 9 percent respectively.

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