One of BotF’s more frequent readers and inductees is Rachel, whose job(s) has recently taken her to many parts of the world. Luckily for BotF, Rachel made room in her luggage for a beer or three for us to review and today’s blog is an offering that she bought home from London. Her two offerings from San Francisco look even more awesome.
Bengal Lancer India Pale Ale is made by Fuller’s Brewery, which is headquartered in Chiswick, West London. A number of Fuller’s beers have made it to Australian bottle shops – but not this one. I’ve sampled London Pride, ESB, Honey Dew, 1845 and London Porter and they’ve all been pretty good. Chances were that the Bengal Lancer IPA would be pretty good.
Now we’ve previously written about how India Pale Ale gets its name from the fact that it was made with plenty of hops and alcohol to last the journey from the UK to India. The Yanks have taken the IPA style to the extreme (just like XXX Chilli Sauces), and one writer (Don Russell) reckons most English IPAs wouldn’t last a voyage around the block. “It’s the Brits who need to change, for it’s the American brewers who are making the Real IPA”.
Now I reckon Donny Boy’s being a little cheeky. Compared to an English Mild or traditional lager – anything with hoppiness would differentiate itself. Bengal Lancer IPA is probably a good approximation of the IPA that was sent to India in the 1830’s. Yes, it’s not as zingy as an IPA from the US, yes, at 5.3% it isn’t a brain-bombing 7%+ that as US IPA seems to need to be – but as an example of an IPA (and the British invented the style) – it’s fine. It sure isn’t a lager or regular ale – there’s a good hoppiness to the palate, and it is clearly sessionable. If you are a Bengal Lancer relaxing after a hot dusty day in the saddle – you’d want this type of IPA and not a squinting 9%’er.
That said, Rachel has bought back a highly decorated IPA from California – label hyperbole – “Aggressive styled India Pale Ale” – let the comparison commence.