In the beginning there was Ale, it was dark and it was good.
Then, amidst the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution, as technology allowed more control over roasting malts, Pale Ale was born, and it too was good.
India Pale Ale (IPA) was developed (so common wisdom would have it) to refresh British troops while serving in India, and it was good and hoppy.
India Pale Ale in turn begat American Pale Ale (APA) which was hoppier still; made using ‘New World’ hops and techniques like ‘dry hopping’.
American Pale Ale, then begat stronger Double, Triple and Imperial IPAs, exotic Pacific Pale Ales, oxymoronic Dark Pale Ales and even Red Pale Ales.
And all were good, hoppy and refreshing.
And the pantheon was complete.
Then Christa Sandquist a brewer in Ilkley, Yorkshire, said “Why don’t we brew an IPA using the yeast our Dutch friends use to brew Witbeer, thus producing a ‘White IPA’?”
And so yet another variation on IPA was born – ‘de Passie’, which translates as ‘the Passion’.
But is it any good?
Well, my first encounter with ‘de Passie’ was at a visit Manchester’s ‘Beermoth’ brew-mongers. Christa was on hand to explain how the brew came about – by inviting “two of Europe’s most kick-ass brewers to come and brew a kick-ass beer”. Said brewers, from the Rooie Dop and Oersoep Breweries arrived in an estate car (do you guys still call them ‘shooting brake’) loaded down with beers, and some yeast. The actual brewing was postponed until some of the beers had been sampled, but the result, rich with added passion fruit was worth the wait.
I enjoyed several glasses of de Passie in the company of Christa and Gareth Hughes, the Brewery’s Marketing Manager. It was a fine evening, but, to retain some degree of objectivity, I bought a couple of bottles (using my own pocket money) to try at home in more ‘controlled’ conditions.
The orange bottle labels indicate the Dutch connection – Orange is the traditional colour for Holland – their soccer team plays in Orange shirts.
It pours a very pale gold, with head that’s shy rather than reluctant, she shows a brief flash of white petticoat and then is gone.
The nose is elderflower, grass cuttings and the aforementioned passionfruit.
The flavour is rich and hoppy, with definite hints of those passion fruit – the passion fruit adds a hint of, almost honey, sweetness, balanced swiftly by that slightly tart hint from the Witbeer yeast. It’s definitely an IPA, but (and I hate this phrase) but ‘with a twist’, there’s also the lurking alcohol reminding you to take this beer seriously.
And it’s all the more enjoyable for all that.
I was fully prepared to add this to my ever growing list of ‘lawnmower beers’, until I remembered that 7.8% alcohol content, maybe this is a beer for when the grass really needs cutting, but it’s raining.
Ilkley Brewery are yet another example of the great local craft brewers that we’re enjoying here in Blighty. I acknowledge that the chances of finding brews such as this internationally are rare, but then if I don’t make people aware of this stuff, then they won’t know.