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Come to dinner with India Pale Ale – 3rd December, Meantime Old Brewery

Barry the Barrel of IPA on his way to India. Or so he thinks.

IPA may be the most beloved beer style of craft brewers.  It may be the beer style that has driven the craft beer revolution around the world.  But it is also the most mythologised, debated, controversial and misunderstood beer style in the world.

Some people become incensed, possessed by violent rage, at what they perceive as falsehoods or inaccuracies in IPA’s history.

Others scream about commercial brands using ‘IPA’ in their name when they are not ‘proper’ IPAs.

When I discovered various new facets of the history of IPA while researching my book Hops and Glory, some people simply dismissed my claims out of hand if they didn’t fit with their own story, ignoring facts I had discovered from primary research among original nineteenth century documents.

IPA is a cipher for all the various points of view and debates within brewing and beer fandom.

But it’s also a spectacular beer style that has at some point inspired pretty much everyone who loves craft beer today.

So when Meantime Brewing asked me to host a beer and food matching dinner as part of a regular series they hold at The Old Brewery in Greenwich, and asked if I would perhaps like to do this with an IPA theme, I leapt at the chance.

IPA has been around for well over 200 years.  Over that time, it has evolved, as tastes and brewing techniques have evolved.  We can’t say exactly what old IPAs taste like but we can infer things from various surviving recipes, contemporary accounts and recreations.  What we may not consider to be a ‘proper’ IPA today may have been universally understood to be the only valid interpretation of IPA sixty or a hundred yeas ago.

English troops enjoying Bass IPA, Bengal, 19th century

So what we’ve attempted to do is compile a list of beers for a tasting and then dinner which reflect how the style has evolved over the years, decades and centuries, and how it has reached a point in the last decade or so where it has developed into an extraordinarily broad range of different tastes and versions. I’ll be talking about each beer and more generally about how the style has evolved.

It’s not meant to be a point scoring exercise or a workshop in coming up with the definitive truth about IPA.  It’s meant to be a thoughtful look at arguably the greatest beer style, and an awesome evening of beer and food flavours.  Here’s the menu:

The evening starts at 6.30pm on Monday 3rd December, at the Old Brewery in Greenwich.  Tickets are £50 per person which includes all beers.  As of now it’s about 75% sold out but you can buy tickets by phoning 0203 327 1280 or by going to the Old Brewery website here.



Martyn Cornell

Is Vintage Ale an IPA?

(Opens can of worms, takes look, decides to put lid back on and walks away whistling.)

Bryan, I tried keeping a bottle of Meantime IPA on a hot balcony for three months and then compared it with one stored cold: you can read about it here


Sounds like a great dinner, and I'm really glad to see Anderson Valley on the list. One thing, though: Last I checked, AVBC's double was called Heelch O' Hops. Hop Ottin is their regular IPA. Unless this is something special I don't know about, you may want to let someone know.


Perfectly good point Martyn! I will be explaining on the night – It's not and IPA, but I was looking for a beer that resembled my Calcutta IPA once it had arrived in India, and it had lost a lot of hop character and gained some distinctly vinous characteristics. So this is in there as a proxy – may even experiment with blending it!

Bryan – my book Hops & Glory was my attempt to recreate the conditions of IPA's voyage to India. I was partially successful.


Cookie –
Lamb – the bits that want braising are braised. The bits that want grilling are grilled.
Scallops – the alternative is dredging the seabed for them, but this shags up the environment or something.
Come along to the evening – there's unlimited pong, but sneaking off for a swift pint of lout may well be possible.

Brian Dinham

Pete, all of those beers will go with any of those dishes, and thousands of others too. Who are you kidding?


Wow Brian, that's the most pointless, trollish comment I've had on my blog for a couple of years now. Thank you.

1) You're wrong. Really, you are hopelessly and completely wrong.

2) Even if you were right (which you aren't – see point 1) – so what? What would it matter? If the dishes go with the food, why is that such a problem? Why does it make you so upset?

3) Who am I kidding? Who am I fucking kidding? What do you think I'm trying to do here, perpetrate some grand conspiracy on a gullible public? Why the fuck would I be trying to "kid" anyone about IPA and beer? What fraud are you accusing me of exactly? Actually, don't answer – I'm not interested.

4) If you don't like the sound of this dinner, fine. But haven't you got anything better to do on a Saturday afternoon?

Bye, Brian.


I knew about the trip to India, Pete. I was wondering more about putting it through the warm cellaring process they use on Madeira now – and Martyn, thanks for the intriguing note about your similar project.

Now, about the Export India Porter we've been discussing on Ron Pattinson's blog, and putting that through estufagem… (-:


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