Before I get into my thoughts on Tui “East India Pale Ale”, here is a history lesson about how the term ‘India Pale Ale’ originated.
In the 1840s, the pale ale was a popular style of beer in both England and the British colonies alike. It was particularly popular among East India Company traders, and ales were exported to India, spending months in casks during the voyage. Upon arrival in India, the settlers found that ales which had a larger helping of hops were far tastier than the typical English ales. The demand at the colonies exploded as a result, and well-hopped pale ales which were brewed to last the trip adopted the prefix ‘India’.
Perhaps to cash-in on this rich history, Tui markets itself as an ‘East India Pale Ale’. This title is ridiculous. Considering ‘ale’ is in the name, you’d expect the beer to be an ale. But you’d be wrong. Tui is, in fact, a lager. False advertising anyone?
Semantics aside, the main thing that pisses me off about Tui’s IPA claim is that the beer’s flavour has no resemblance to the style.
The only similarity between Tui (4%) and a traditional IPA is the amber colour, which is achieved by using slightly roasted sweet crystal malt. Tui’s aroma is sweet and dirty—basically it smells like someone has farted in my glass. The flavour is weak at best, but what I can taste is sweet, funky and unpleasant. Hops should be the main flavour in an IPA, yet the single trace of hops appears only briefly at the finish of this.
Luckily for us the English still remember how to make an authentic IPA, and Burton Bridge Empire ale (7.5%) is probably the closest thing you’ll get to what they were drinking in the Indian colonies. First, it’s an ale! Imagine that! Hops are strong in all aspects of this beer, and it will keep for years. The nose is full of fruity hops, yet the subtle malt character brings through a touch of spice. The flavour is immense—bitter, fruity hops explode in your mouth, followed by a spicy, bready note which reminds me of a spiced pudding. I can’t really describe the myriad of flavours in this beer; suffice to say it puts that Tui crap to shame.
So now when you’re drinking Tui, you’ll know that what you have is a lager. It is most definitely not an IPA.