Martin’s Pale Ale and Martin’s IPA
A bit of history
One of the first beers that John Martin developed was an IPA (India Pale Ale). The current Martin’s IPA, the recipe for which is true to its roots, bears no comparison with American IPAs, which are rougher on the tongue. Let’s go back to the beginning. India Pale Ales came into being in the eighteenth century. In order to supply the British colonies in India in particular, brewers searched for a recipe that would withstand the transportation conditions. The fact that they had a higher alcohol and hop content meant that they kept better during the long journey, and so the IPA was born. It became a classic in the British brewing tradition. However, when bitterness went out of favour, Martin’s Pale Ale, originally Bulldog Pale Ale in the mid-1940s, took its place in Belgian hearts. It wasn’t until the company’s centenary that Anthony Martin decided to revive an old favourite. The renaissance of the IPA came from one observation, as Anthony Martin explains: “American IPA is not the IPA originally conceived. The American craft brewing movement completely reinvented it. Seeing brewers in the US taking IPA in odd directions, I wanted to set the record straight and relaunch Martin’s IPA. Not in order to sell huge volumes, and obviously not really to turn it into a standard, but so that people would know what an IPA should be like. Especially since this beer is part of the same family as our Pale Ale, which we have been brewing in Belgium for several decades,” he adds. Martin’s Pale Ale continues to be a safe bet that is much loved. Milder than its ancestor, it has a hoppy note that gives that characteristic dry bitterness. This is on account of the almost unique dry hopping process that it has always had in common with Martin’s IPA. Here are some explanations:
This India Pale Ale is brewed using a triple hopping process – in other words, adding different varieties of hop at three stages, including the famous hop cones from Kent, as well as actual hop flowers. These multiple additions take place before and after boiling, as well as after fermentation. At the end of this, actual dried hop flowers are added to it, in the proportion of 100 kg for every 100,000 litres. The beer then circulates for a week through a closed circuit, in contact with the hops, before being filtered. This dry hopping is carried out at a low temperature so that the beer is only infused with the most sophisticated flavours and aromas of hops. Made well, this noble beer reveals a dark orange amber hue with a good head. It gives off floral and fruity hoppy aromas and tastes of bread and malt offset with a slight bitterness. What’s more, Martin’s IPA undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle.
The Martin family’s precious British heritage
According to popular wisdom, it was the Belgians who developed brewing methods on account of the patience and know-how of the monks living in the country’s abbeys. However, according to Anthony Martin, “the Belgians did introduce hops to the British, but the British developed “pale ales”, “scotch ales” and “stout”. Belgian speciality beers were made using these recipes. In fact, some Belgian speciality beers still widely known today were originally British. In terms of yeast, fermentation and style, the British brewing tradition gave rise to the Belgian brewing tradition! The British influence has been enormous. The First World War played a significant role, as did the Second World War, after which demand soared even higher. In fact, the pupil overtook the master. These breweries were taken over by Belgians and tradition took a new turn. Even though the Belgian heritage in speciality beer is a recent phenomenon, it’s a heritage of which Belgium can be extremely proud and which we must ensure is preserved!” he concludes.
How to recognise a good IPA
IPAs have a silky mouthfeel. They have a stable head and a special kind of bitterness, with a pronounced hoppiness and a very characteristic light amber colour. Martin’s IPA revives the flavour of a typically British IPA. The initial nose is complex and peppery, and this hoppy fragrance calls to mind a skilfully spiced beer. Taste wise, a hit of powerful bitterness spreads through the mouth, lingering on the tongue. This strength of character recedes at the end to give way to a smooth elegance. This finish demonstrates that Martin’s IPA is a forthright beer with depth and feeling. It proudly bears the stamp of ales in the British tradition, brewed in Belgium.
“American IPA is not the IPA originally conceived. The American craft brewing movement completely reinvented it.” – Anthony Martin