Saturday, 22 May 2010

Black Pale Ale

What's all this about Black IPA? I find it amusing reading the argument that a pale ale can't be black, when the horse has long since bolted. Not specifically black IPAs, but black Pale Ales have been brewed for years. Where? San Diego? Denver? No – Edinburgh.

In the remaining jakey pubs of Scotland you can sometimes still find (in between the bottle of lemonade on the bar and the charity collection box shaped like Sooty) a draught beer called McEwan's 60/–, "light" in the vernacular. I think the "60/–" label appeared on it when the stuff was relaunched as a nitro-keg product in the 1990s, but I'm not sure. This beer is the remnant of a time when McEwan's principal products were Pale and Export ales. Export, originally India Pale Ale, is still Scotland's top selling ale, apparently, but Pale Ale has gone into steep decline. Once it was popular in screw-top bottles and cans, but I haven't even seen the packaged version for years.

An old advert seems to show a dark amber version. Today it's as black as Guinness. Actually, it's blacker than Guinness is these days; it certainly tastes better, though taste is a rather abstract concept when talking about these nitro-keg beers. What there is seems mostly roast barley. Fascinatingly, despite the colour, the marketing people have left the words Pale Ale on the packaging for all these years. I wonder why?


  1. Well, that's just confusing -- more confusing than Raven, because it's missing even the word 'black' or 'dark'. I'd rather have an oxymoron than a downright fib any day...

  2. surely thats really a mild not a pale ale.