Myth: India Pale Ale was developed to survive the long journey to India

The first IPA was made somewhere in the years before 1829. Established fact is that for a very long time several kinds of beer could survive this trip. The first IPA's were marketed with funny health claims as one can see in the advertisements in 'The Lancet' of 1844 below.

lancet-bass-ipa-1844
The Lancet 1844

IPA not mentioned
In The East India Vade-Mecum (1) of 1810 we can read the following:
'Porter, pale-ale and table-beer of great strength, are often drank after meals: all these are found in the utmost perfection, for indifferent malt-liquors do not stand the voyage; and, even should they arrive in a sound state, would meet no sale'(1).
Not only is this text from some decades before the IPA, it also conjures up a picture of gentlemen, very rightly so, wondering about what beer would fit the occasion.

Doctor's stuff
Somewhat later in 'The theory and practice of brewing illustrated' (2), we read the following:
'has induced brewers to prepare an article that may be exclusively appropriated to domestic consumption, and yet retain the name of East India Pale Ale'...
'Thus the brewer has become a legalised vender of 'doctor's stuff', and vies with the apothecary in 'getting up' the prescriptions of physicians 'according to order.'
A bigger contrast with more than two centuries before is hardly possible.

Durable beer
The first beer really made to last the long journey to India probably came from even before the Dutch VOC travels east at the exploring travels at the end of the 16th century. The captains of admiralty ships directly contracted brewers and were paid with funds of the admiralty. (3) In the beginning the beer was tax-free (4). Lots of room for innovative durable beer. There were several kinds, at the beginning of the journey one could drink freely from the ships beer on deck, but there was also 'heavy' and 'good' beer for those higher in rank.

voc-schip
Dutch VOC ship

Amsterdam beer
De Witte Haan brewery (1610) was an important supplier of beer for the Dutch East India Company (VOC). They made several kinds of beer, for consumption onboard as well as for sale in the colonies. From 1677 onwards we have data on 'Haantjes beer' together with other, older beer-styles on sale in the East (5). Not only long before India Pale Ale, but also before Porter. In the last years of the VOC the special demands of India on beer were still mentioned in their books (6).

Princessbeer
In 1734 a new Amsterdam brewery 'de Gekroonde Valk' or the 'Crowned Falcon' starts with a focus on Burger (Civic), Ships and export-beer. One year earlier the brewery was licensed (7) and after some time the new beer also gets a name: 'het Brouwen van Princesse-Bier voor Oostindien en andere Gewesten' or translated: 'the brewing of Princess-Beer for the East and other colonies'. The brewer David van den Bosch is successful with his enterprise and we see the beer sold in the colonies. With this relative newcomer we're still well before the rise of IPA.

Marketing
India Pale Ale came to the market when for many decades there were several kinds of beer available 'in the utmost perfection'. No need to make a special beer for that. Also the niche market for shipping to India was very limited (8+9) compared to the largest city and beer market in the world of those times. By referring to the romantic image of the long sea travels India Pale Ale could be hansomly sold at home in London.

Frederik Ruis

(1)
The East India Vade-Mecum or complete guide to gentlemen intended for the civil, military or naval service.
Thomas H. Williamson
Black, Parry and Kingsburry,
1810

p.122

doprgb50-455

(2)
The theory and practice of brewing illustrated
William Littell Tizard
1846

p.515

'has induced brewers to prepare an article that may be exclusively appropriated to domestic consumption, and yet retain the name of East India Pale Ale'...
'Thus the brewer has become a legalised vender of 'doctor's stuff', and vies with the apothecary in 'getting up' the prescriptions of physicians 'according to order.'

doprgb50-455

(3)
Bier! Geschiedenis van een volksdrank
Richard Yntema
De Bataafse Leeuw,
1994

p.94

doprgb50-455

(4)
De geoctrooieerde compagnie: de VOC en de WIC als voorlopers van de naamloze vennootschap
Henk den Heijer
Kluwer,
2005


p.168

'The 1602 patent states the VOC, like any other schipping company in the Republic, has to pay tax, as opposed to the exploring early companies that were free of taxation'

doprgb50-455

(5a)
Dagh-register gehouden int casteel Batavia vant passerende
1677

2 leggers France wyn en 2 leggers seck wyn;
5 vaten mom, 5 vaeten haantjes bier

doprgb50-455

(5b)
Oud en nieuw Oost-Indiën
vervattende een naaukeurige en uitvoerige verhandelinge van Nederlands mogentheyd in die gewesten
(Google eBoek)
François Valentijn
by Joannes van Braam,
1724

p.263
This years profit on sale
Mom

Bengaanlse Tarw
Roosewater
Luyks Beer
Serbster Beer
Haantjes Beer
1704 until 1705 until 1706.

haantjes-bier-1704-1724

doprgb50-455

(6)
Staat der generale Nederlandsche Oost-Indische Compagnie
dato 14 July 1791, Volume 2 (Google eBoek)
Nederlandsche Oost-Indische Compagnie
J. Allart,
1792

p.147
en Jopen Bier, om te dienen tot voldoening van den Eisch voor Indiën.

p.172
Bier tot Koopmanschap 14114 00
Bier tot Equipagie 51078 00

translated:
Dutch East India Company
Beer for the crew
Beer as merchandise
'All domestic and foreign, and Jopen beer, able to meet the demands of Indonesia.

voc-bier-1792


doprgb50-455

(7a)
Schepenen op de annexe Requeste van

Jan van den Bosch Cornelisz. gezien hebbende dez

het stellen van de verzochte
ketel tot het Brouwen van Bier

den 14. Juli 1733

gekroonde-valk-brouwvergunning-1733

doprgb50-455

(7b)
Amsterdamse courant
10-04-1749
12-04-1749
Otto Barentsz Smient
Amsterdam
1749

zedert het overlyden van David van den Bosch
inzonderheyd het Brouwen van Princesse-Bier voor Oostindien en andere Gewesten, op den ouden voet

'Since the death of the brewer David van den Bosch'
'including the Brewing of Princess Beer for the East-Indies and other Colonies, as before'

princesse-1749

princesse-1749b

doprgb50-455

(8)
The theory and practice of brewing illustrated
William Littell Tizard
1846

p.524 Exports, not mentioning IPA...

ipa-1846
doprgb50-455

(9)
The Brewing Industry in England, 1700-1830
Peter Mathias
CUP Archive, 1959

p.190
Distant Markets:
'Hodgson's India Ale' had become a generic name
Barclays brewed 'India Ale' from 1799 onwards

india-ale-1799

For some smaller brewers the India market was important enough. They called their beer sometimes India Ale. The full combination India Pale Ale is of a later date.
Peter Mathias refers to the administration of Barclays.

doprgb50-455