… because I was recently asked to name a new beer! Seaforth is the latest release fromThornbridge, an ‘English’ India Pale Ale.
This is blue and the text doesn’t look weird until I post it here.
I’ve no idea why blogger has had a go at changing the design.
What this means is that it’s similar to Jaipur, but brewed with 100% English ingredients, making it much closer to what the early nineteenth century IPAs would have been like. I haven’t had chance to taste it yet, but it’s dry-hopped, darker than many IPAs, and very hoppy, according to head brewer Stef. I can’t wait to try it.
Why Seaforth? Well, it sounds like a good name for an IPA, doesn’t it? BUt it has a very special place in IPA’s history.
Anyone who’s read J Stevenson Bushnan’s 1853 book ‘Burton and its Bitter Beer’ will know that the two ships that transported the first cargo of Samuel Allsopp’s India Ale from Liverpool to Calcutta were the Bencoolen and the Seaforth. The Seaforth arrived a few weeks after the Bencoolen, so what makes it special?
Well, when I was in the Indian National Library in Calcutta, I found the edition of the Calcutta Gazette from 1823, around the time these ships arrived. At that time, London brewer George Hodgson dominated the Indian market and was restricting supply to maximise his profit, refusing credit terms to everyone, and generally pissing off the most powerful corporation the world has ever known. The cargo of Allsopp’s ale that arrived on the Bencoolen sold for about two thirds of what Hodgson’s did, such was his reputation, and on that basis Allsopp would have failed – and that would have meant no Burton IPA. But one of the ads around the arrival of the Seaforth reveal an extraordinary stroke of luck:
To be sold by Public Auction, by Messrs Taylor & Co, on the CUSTOM HOUSE WHARF, by permission of the Collector of Sea Customs, at eleven o’ Clock precisely, on Saturday next, the 28th Instant, 48 HOGSHEADS of Hodgson’s BEER, and 17 empty HOGSHEADS, landed from the ship Timandra, and 30 hogsheads of Hodgson’s BEER, landed from the ship Seaforth.
Hodgson had sent out a dodgy batch of beer on the same ship as Allsopp’s second consignment, which had arrived in perfect condition. This allowed Allsopp to get into the market, and the consignment on the Seaforth sold for double that on the Bencoolen. People then tasted IPA brewed in Burton for the first time, realised how superior it was to London IPA, and the rest is history. You can read that history in Hops and Glory of course.
So what better name for an English IPA brewed just up the road from Burton?