May 16, 2014

India Pale Ale in Van Diemen's Land

The first reference to IPA in Tasmania that I've been able to find is in February 1830, just months after the first known use of the term. Whether this term indicates A genuinely different beer at this stage or merely a different label for beer that was already being brewed, it catches on very quickly.

It's also described as “the best summer drink” which was an important quality to settlers in the colonies I guess since we actually have summers.

Hobart Town Courier, 27 February, 1830

Launceston wasn't far behind Hobart. They had Ind & Smith’s IPA as early as 1833 and overall, seem to have enjoyed a wider variety of IPAs than Hobart did.

By 1840 we’ve got Ind & Smith & Dunbar IPAs to go along with some unnamed India pale ales. IPA is well and truly a thing by this point and comes up regularly in the newspapers.

Launceston Advertiser, 26 December, 1833

Hobart Town Courier, 7 December, 1838

As with all malt beverages at the time, it was very important to praise the medical value of India pale ales. Apparently they had “high tonic properties,” which sounds like a nicely vague kind of thing to say in order to sell it.

Over this time, Ind & Smith seem to be the dominant brand on the market. That is, if the number of advertisements is anything to go by.

Cornwall Chronicle, 11 August, 1852

In 1850 Allsopp gets in on the action and in the 1860s the Scottish breweries really move in on the Tasmanian scene. William Younger's and Dawson Kirkstall’s IPAs are very visible along with appearances from the English breweries Harvey’s and Jeffrey’s. Bass also arrives on the scene during this period.

When looking into the historical side of beer and brewing, the obvious question is ‘what were these beers like?’ And although I haven't found any good descriptions, the ad for Younger’s IPA below mentions the ‘delicacy of aroma’ which is cool to see given the time and distance it had passed on its way to Van Diemens Land. Even though the aroma (and probably everything else) would be quite different from today's crazy hoppy IPAs, it's nice to know that aroma was very important then as well as now.

Cornwall Chronicle, 3 December, 1850

The Mercury, 12 March, 1864

The Mercury, 28 March, 1872

In 1881 we've even got McEwan's IPA. While they started late in the IPA game in Australia, retailers made up for it with an incredible barrage of advertising throughout the 1880s and 1890s. If the number of ads are anything to go by, they dominated the IPA market with Bass IPA a distant second and and one or two others further back.

McEwan's IPA trademark application from 1909. Note the
globe in their branding. Taken from

To round out the gang of Scottish IPAs, Tennent’s IPA was also available in Hobart on occasion. It seems that they were making push to export their beer and it made the journey to Tasmania at least on one or two occasions. Stone & Sons also sent IPA to Tasmania in the late 19th century.

The Mercury, 6 April, 1882

It's crazy how much Scottish IPA was exported to Tasmania - at least 4 breweries were sending their IPA our way. I completely missed those IPAs when I did that post on Scottish ale. Just as well I hedged and called it “A first look…”! There was a real surge of popularity for the style during the 19th century but by the time of Federation, IPA had waned in the public's estimation if the number of newspaper ads is a guide. Still, from the earliest Times IPA was available and popular in Van Diemen's Land.

Next I'm going to look at locally brewed IPAs to see what kinds of things they got up to.

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