Marstons Old Empire Original Export IPA 5.7% A.B.V

12 10 2010

Following on from my post about Harviestouns Bitter and Twisted here is my promised post on Marstons Old Empire I.P.A as raided from my local off licence before they vanished into the mist as everything interesting there is want to do.

Before I start reviewing this beer I am going to take a brief moment to make sure everyone is up to speed on quite what an IPA is and why it is such named.

IPA quite literally stands for India Pale Ale and the clue as to it’s birth and reason for being are in the name; back when England had an Empire the expats who made up the British Raj had a bit of a thirst on and understandably they wanted to ease that thirst with beer.

Most popular beers at the time weren’t stable enough to make the long sea journey to India from good old Blighty and such something new was needed.

IPA was the perfect solution it was well hopped so would last for longer, it had a higher alcohol content, again for longer shelf life and it was light and refreshing making it perfect for drinking in the warm Indian climate.

It was an instant hit with the Raj and before long it was a hit at home as well.

Well that is my little potted history lesson completed so it is time to crack on with the beer in hand (well now in stomach)

Marston’s Old Empire Original Export IPA is one of just many hundreds if not thousands of brands of IPA available to the beer drinker today.

However if you were to mention IPA to a lot of people they will instantly think of the Greene King offering which thanks to their size and marketing savvy is available in most pubs you set foot in, even if they don’t offer any other real ale.

There is nothing wrong with Greene King IPA however as with everything variety is the spice of life and there are a whole range of great flavoursome IPAs out there ready to be drunk; Marston’s Old Empire is one of these.

The aroma of Old Empire is not dissimilar to a slightly damp pine forest there are some pine and grassy notes a hint of citrus and a malt note almost hidden away at the back.

Marstons might have been aiming for this sort of damp forest floor aroma from Old Empire but I just found it to be more than a little skunky, if I had to hazard a guess I would say that this skunkiness is a result of the choice of a clear glass bottle.

Old Empires pours a dark golden colour with a mid sized white head which leaves very little lacing .

On tasting the beer you notice a nice bitter ctirus peel flavour, some hint of caramel maltiness and a nice grassy/hay like note creeping in.  There is a nice zing to Old Empire along with the ever so slightly sulfurous taste that you get with all of Marston’s beers due to Burton on Trent being such a hard water area.

There are two main downsides to the taste and feel of Old Empire, the first is that the hint of skunk that you can pick up in the aroma is still there lingering in the background when you drink it and the second is that bearing in mind that it is supposed to be a traditional IPA made to an original recipe I would expect it to be a bit “bigger” particularly given that it’s ABV is on the high side for a lot of modern IPA.



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