McEwan's India Pale Ale
Review Date 12/17/2001
In the world of
India Pale Ales, there are American versions, English versions, and also, it
seems, Scottish versions. McEwan’s IPA, formerly known as McEwan’s
Export, is a self-styled India Pale Ale brewed in Edinburgh, Scotland by
Scottish Courage, perhaps better known here in the United States for their
Newcastle Brown Ale. An excellent Scotch ale is also sold here under the
The style of beer we know today as India Pale Ale emerged in England in the 19th century. Pale ale being shipped from the mother country to the troops in India was observed to spoil readily during its long ocean voyage. As a remedy, alcohol levels and hopping rates were boosted. Since both alcohol and hops act as preservatives in beer, the beer soon arrived to the thirsty troops in much better condition.
Ironically, though this style was born in Britain many English beers labeled India Pale Ale that you’ll find on American beer store shelves today have little in common with their ancestors of yore. They might be more bitter than a pale ale, but not usually much more so. They will most likely be hopped with Fuggles and/or Goldings.
With the advent of the craft brewing revolution here in the United States back in the early nineteen eighties, IPAs of assertive character began appearing on store shelves and on bar taps across America. It has often been said that Americans like to do things bigger and better than everyone else in the world, and that has certainly been the case with this style. Generally hopped with the “4 Cs” (Cascades, Centennials, Chinooks, Columbus), these brews are hopped to the max.
McEwan’s India Pale Ale pours to a bright orange color with a medium head formation and a hoppy, tea-like nose. The palate is smooth and malty, a tad chewy with hints of molasses and sweet malt, and full of aromatic, leafy tea hop notes. The finish is somewhat sweet and imparts an overall iced tea character to the brew. There’s nowhere near the amount of bitterness I would expect for an India Pale Ale, and I don’t think this is a very good example of one. That said, it’s still a tasty brew, perhaps better described as a hoppy pale ale.
This would not be a good beer to use to familiarize yourself with the characteristics of an IPA. I would suggest Maine’s Shipyard Fuggles IPA, Pennsylvania’s Yard’s IPA, or England’s Fuller’s IPA as better beers to use for this purpose in terms of an English IPA; Pennsylvania’s Victory Hop Devil, Washington State’s Diamond Knot IPA, or Rhode Island’s Trinity Brewhouse RI IPA as excellent examples of an American IPA.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.