One IPA that I’ve seen referenced more than any other in recent years is ‘Jaipur’ from the Thornbridge brewery, based at Thornbridge Hall, a stately home just outside the town of Bakewell in the Derbyshire Peak District National Park.
When I lived in Sheffield in the seventies and eighties, Thornbridge Hall was owned by Sheffield City Council and was used as a conference centre. I attended seminars and ran training courses there, back in the days when I had a job, and hair. Thornbridge Hall returned to private ownership in 1997, and when the owners decided to add a beer to their range of branded products they first approached Sheffield’s Kelham Island Brewery.
The Kelham Island team suggested that Thornbridge should brew their own brew, and so they opened their own brewery in 2005 using a brewplant that originally graced Yorkshire’s Marston Moor brewery.
Since then the brewery has enlarged, with sophisticated filtration equipment, so no pasteurisation here. The brewery’s watchwords are ‘Innovation, Passion, Knowledge’ which sounds good to me.
Thornbridge Kipling 5.2%
Kipling describes itself as a South Pacific Ale – this is news to me. So now we have Pale Ales, India Pale Ales, American Pale Ales and South Pacific Pale Ales?
Well I’m guessing that the South Pacific name points towards New Zealand, so I’m expecting Sauvin Hops (named from the Sauvignon Blanc grape) that give a nose reminiscent of Gooseberries, rather than the Grapefruit nose that we get from Amarillo and Chinook hops.
Let’s see how it pours; well it pours a very pale gold, with a generous , pure white head that laces the glass as it slowly subsides.
The nose, as expected, is subtle, grassy, with elderflower and kiwi fruit notes.
The flavour backs that initial tropical fruit attack with hints of honey before a wonderful bitter-hop finish.
It’s light, bright and refreshing, it doesn’t have the attitude of Brewdog’s Punk IPA, nor the floral nose of an APA, but it provides a satisfying burst of fruit flavour.
I’ll give this 4½ stars.
Thornbridge Jaipur 5.9% ABV
The first thing you spot is the label, resplendent with an almost psychedelic picture of ‘Flora’ on the label. Flora is a statue of the goddess of flowers in the Italian Garden at Thornbridge Hall, although I wonder what a Victorian gentleman would make of the colours.
According to Thornbridge’s excellent website, Jaipur is brewed with Maris Otter pale ale malt and Vienna malt, with Ahtanum, Centennial, Chinook, and Warrior hops. A rich blend, promising an aromatic nose.
At the risk of getting too romantic, it pours a pale gold with a complex nose that gives grapefruit, grass and peaches and cream aroma.
The flavour gives the same hints of honey that Kipling delivers, but with even more bitterness. The hoppy bitterness is both citrusy and almost metallic, the finish doesn’t disappoint, rich, hoppy and malty at the same time.
Complex, refreshing and rewarding, beers don’t get much more rewarding than this.
As I mentioned earlier, Thornbridge brews are unpasteurised, so you only get six months shelf life, but, like the unpasteurised Punk IPA from Brewdog, there’s little chance that this will stay on my shelf for that long!
Make no mistake, Thornbridge brew great beers.
And, as part of my IPA exploration, I decided to see how the IPA flavours would stand up against a curry. Here in Blighty, the tradition is to drink lager with curry (a tradition dating back to Prince Axel of Denmark in 1924), but I found the hoppiness of (in this case Brewdog Punk IPA) more than stood up to the challenge posed by a Lamb Biryani with Madras Sauce and a Bindhi Bhaji.
By the way, what beer do you like best with food like this?
Bob the Brit