Above: Brains Head Brewer Bill Dobson and Martyn Cornell
Award-winning beer writer and historian Martyn Cornell turned craft brewer for a day after Welsh brewer Brains invited him to produce his very own ‘ultimate’ IPA.
While Brains handed Martyn an IPA brief, he was free to come up with his own interpretation. He first looked for a link between India Pale Ale and Wales, taking inspiration from the 41st Welch (their preferred spelling of Welsh) Regiment of Foot and their commanding officer Lt Colonel Sir Edmund Keynton Williams, who came from Bedwellty. Stationed in Madras, India, the Colonel and his officers would have been drinking Indian Pale Ale – or we’d like to imagine they were.
Martyn Cornell explains: “I’ve no evidence for saying that Colonel Williams and his officers drank India Pale Ale while they were in Madras, but it would be far more surprising to discover that they didn’t drink it.
Martyn has already blogged about his brewing adventure here.
“It would be fun, I decided, to try to imagine for the 21st century the kind of beer the officers and men of the regiment might have been given if, when they were back in South Wales, they had gone along to their local brewer and said: ‘We drank this great beer out in India – can you reproduce it for us?’”
A ‘Welch’ reproduction of a classic IPA, Colonel Williams is a light amber ale brewed with pale malts and Goldings hops. But like the original high gravity IPAs – which had to last months on the way out East – Colonel Williams is 6% ABV.
Bill Dobson, Head Brewer at Brains, said: “The craft brewery has given us the opportunity to bring in guest brewers – which we have never before been able to do. It’s great to be able to draw on their knowledge and creativity to come up with a one-off beer.”
Colonel Williams is part of an Indian Pale Ale series, which sees beer writers and bloggers develop and brew their ‘ultimate’ IPA. The first in the series, Barry Island IPA from Simon Martin, went on sale last month, and beers from Tim Hampson, Melissa Cole, Marverine Cole, and Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham will follow. The IPAs will be independently judged at the end of the year and the winning beer will become part of Brains’ beer festival programme.
The limited edition beer will be available in 30 Brains outlets from July 11th. A full list of stockists is available here.
Colonel Williams 6.0% ABV
Created by beer historian Martyn Cornell, this is the sort of IPA that Colonel Williams and his regiment might have drunk when they were stationed in India in the early 1840s. This light amber ale is brewed with Maris Otter malt and Goldings hops for a dry, bitter and refreshing pint.