Visit the Shut up about Barclay Perkins site

What makes a beer an IPA? More specifically, what makes a beer an IPA rather than a Pale Ale? It’s a question to which I’ve yet to find a satisfactory answer.

It doesn’t help that British brewers were extremely inconsistent in their use of the terms. Modern dogma would insist that, if a brewery makes both a Pale Ale and an IPA, the latter should be the stronger of the two. But I’ve dozens of examples of British brewers where it was the other way around. Whitbread and Barclay Perkins in London. And Usher in Edinburgh.

In the 1890’s. Thomas Usher brewed three Pale Ales: IPA at 1044º, PA at 1049º and PA 60/- at 1055º. Compared to the Pale Ales of a London brewery, they look on the weak side. 1050º was about the weakest anything got in the capital. Whitbread’s three Pale Ales in the same year were: FA at 1051.8º, 2PA at 1052.4º and PA at 1058.4º.

The recipe, as with most 19th-ccentury Scottish ones, is very simple, just pale malt and sugar. Not sure exactly what sort of sugar as I couldn’t read the brewer’s scribble. No. 1 or No. 2 invert are the obvious choices. Take your pick. I’ve gone for No. 2 for no particular reason.

The rate of attenuation is quite low, which is typical for Scottish beers, even Pale Ales. Leaving the ABV at just under 4%, a very low figure for a 19th-century Pale Ale of any kind. A English AK would have had a similar OG, but the higher rate of attenuation would have left it at 4.5% ABV.

1894 Thomas Usher IPA
pale malt 8.00 lb 86.49%
No. 2 invert sugar 1.25 lb 13.51%
Fuggles 90 min 1.25 oz
Goldings 60 min 1.25 oz
Goldings 30 min 1.25 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.25 oz
OG 1044
FG 1014
ABV 3.97
Apparent attenuation 68.18%
IBU 49
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 180º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 58º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale