Craft Beer: Mourne take a stab at the OG IPA
The humble IPA has come a long way since it was shipped a long way round the world to quench the thirst of Brits in the sub-continent.
Technically though, it is as a highly-hopped pale ale that was produced around the English beer Mecca of Burton that got packed into barrels for the long journey.
Back then, cramming loads of hops into the beer wasn’t necessarily a style choice – it was more intended to preserve the taste of the beer as it made its way to India than to whack the drinker in the face with a bitter hit of piney and citrus hops (I’m looking at you California).
Even the term ‘pale ale’ was relative. By today’s standards, those beers weren’t all that pale – probably a medium to dark amber colour – but since almost every other beer in these pre-pilsner days was either black or a very dark brown, it was a noticeable departure to make something a little lighter in colour.
Then, along came the aforementioned pilsners and the Czechs and German changed the whole concept of a pale beer.
To a large extent, IPAs were mothballed for about a century with a few English brewers continuing to plug away against a rising tide of lagers and stouts.
It took the revived craft beer market in the US to poke the IPA back into life, but like any Transatlantic revival, they took it in new and strange directions.
The bi-coastal IPA battle in America has pushed the style into a whole new place but there is still a bit of room for the OG of the IPA to flourish, especially when palates are becoming that bit more discerning.
And so, we’re back where we started with the English IPA and more specifically Sound of Silence from Mourne Mountains Brewery.
This is a 6.6 per cent English style IPA, which harks back to the origins of the style. So there’s no big juicy, tropical hops but the more traditional Challenger and Goldings hops, which bring their own complexity of flavour.
Probably the most striking difference, though, between an English IPA and the US version is the greater malt profile of English take.
Sound of Silence pours an amber colour in the glass, with some earthy aromas with a little hint of sweet toffee malt.
That toffee malt comes through on the palate but it is the Challenger hops which are the real stars here.
They bring a woody and slightly floral hint, with a strong note of green tea. This contributes to an almost warming bitterness and dry finish.
It’s a great take on an often underappreciated style and hides its relatively high strength well.