I’m so excited about this week’s beer of the week and proud we have managed to get it in. FRIDAY über IPA (India pale ale) is from and Union. And it truly is Über! If I washed up on a desert island and could choose my box of beer to accompany me, this would definitely be in there! I would even go so far as to say if I could only take one beer, it would be this one. But before I tell you about the FRIDAY beer, it’s time for a history lesson.
IPA’s started their life as pale ales made for export to India for the thirsty British living over there during the days of the East India Company. In order for the beer to survive the long journey, alcohol was high and lots of hops were used. Not just for flavour but for their preservation and anti-bacterial qualities. The beer flourished in both India and the U.K. Move forward a couple of hundred years and introduce the big British brewing conglomerates and what was a great beer style had been lowered in alcohol and flavour every year from the fall of the British Raj. The style had moved backwards and there is still plenty of evidence of this in pubs and supermarkets, where you can pick up flavourless IPA’s as low as 3.6% abv, which probably wouldn’t survive the trip across the Channel, never mind to India! An IPA should should be around the 6% mark.
Now over in America they had a bit of a beer (r)evolution. Brewers had a blank canvas to work with as they hadn’t been subjected to the declining flavours of British IPA’s. They went back to the original building blocks of this great beer style and didn’t compromise on the quantity of hops or abv. Using American hops, IPA’s became fruitier to go with the established bitterness. This fruitiness has even led to a sub style, in west coast IPA. America showed us where Britain went wrong and inspired hundreds, even thousands of brewers as to what IPA’s could be.
America isn’t the only port of call for FRIDAY. In fact this beer hits so many ports you could do with your very own Passepartout to support you with pouring this beer and guiding you on its global journey. Take one super cool South African, of Portuguese descent, named Rui (Co-founder of and Union). Send him off to Germany to brew in German microbreweries to make an American/German take on a beer originally brewed in Britain for consumption in India! That’s four continents in one beer!
Pouring a beautiful dark amber in the glass, the nose is juicy and fruity, but delicate and floral at the same time, courtesy of the German and American hops. One big mouthful and your taste buds are awash with orange, tangerine and an inquisitive poke of tropical fruit. Balanced with a malty backbone that gives it a dry, smooth and light touch of toffee. The mouthfeel is exceptional, bordering on jammy! As the beer warms up (I like to give it just 30-40 minutes in the fridge so you get that temperature/flavour difference) it becomes fruitier and fruitier, moving the bitterness to the background but ready to pounce whenever your palate needs some cleansing after eating. And food (even cigars!) is where this beer goes from a great beer to a desert island beer.
FRIDAY beer is phenomenal with any food off the BBQ. Burgers, steak, jerk chicken, duck are all amazing. But my favourite combo was with a big rib steak on the bone and finished with bone marrow. Cooked low and slow till rare then finished off over direct flame, FRIDAY clears your palate after each mouthful, bringing out the char and smoke of the steak with FRIDAY tasting fruitier than before. It’s a combo made in heaven. I have tried lots of other beers with food off the BBQ but FRIDAY beats them off with ease every time. This beer is a champ with so many dishes there probably isn’t a bad one. Rui from and Union recommends pairing it with North Indian curry, Cajun, schezuan, strong cheddar, currywurst along with the aforementioned BBQ. Get your hands on this beer quickly as this could change your dinnertime tipple forever.