The Ships Rations began with The Ship itself as inspiration. While considering the bar and thinking about what beer would be appropriate to serve as the inaugural brew for The Ship, no style of beer came to mind as quickly, nor seemed quite so appropriate, as the IPA. IPA or ‘India Pale Ale’ was first developed in England for shipment to India in the 1700’s. Today the style is enjoying a huge revival and is arguably the most popular type of beer amongst craft beer fans. Many modern versions of the style tend to veer towards the American reinterpretation of IPA- These wonderful brews are very bitter, fairly high in alcohol, and aggressively hop forward; favoring modern American high alpha acid varieties. As phenomenal as a modern IPA can be, The Ships Rations needed to be something a little different. Returning to the English origins of the beer, we find a brew that evolved to be extremely dry, very pale, and awfully bitter, so much so that it was described as undrinkable before aging had mellowed it. It had a very long aging time, at least a year before shipping was common, which also helped to make it a very clear and sparkling beverage, sometimes described as having a “champagne-like” appearance -indeed- it was occasionally known as “Bengal Wine”.
The Ships Rations is a hybrid of old and new- with a twist. It shares some traits with old English IPAs, specifically the sparkling carbonation and the dry crisp finish. It is like modern IPAs in that it makes exclusive use of recently developed strains of high-alpha acid hops, specifically Citra & Simcoe. But it takes a lighter hand on hop character than most modern IPAs, which allows some interesting special ingredients to be incorporated. These exotic ingredients are Ginger, Molasses and Chinese Sugar Crystals. These ingredients are reminiscent of the Far East and the English colonial period- when spices, sugar, and molasses were loaded onto English ships- ships that returned loaded with Ale.
The ginger helps to create a powerful aroma of cardamom on the nose (putting the “I” in IPA) and is perhaps more felt than tasted -as it creates a synergistic effect with the hops- increasing the perception of bitterness and leaving a pleasant, almost hot, bitter burn on the palette. The molasses add color and complexity, and the Chinese sugar crystals help to lighten the body and create a rather dry beer.
The Ships Rations is approx. 6.5 percent alcohol by volume and approx. 70 IBUs. It is unfiltered, unpasteurized and unavailable anywhere else! The Ships Rations is a rather unique IPA that is probably not quite like any other beer you have tried! We are proud of it, and we will work to perfect it until it is refined into precisely the sort of beer that we have envisioned, and that Hamilton deserves.