Orkney IPA: beer in perfect balance

Orkney IPA: beer in perfect balance

Next week is going to be big for everyone at Swannay. We will be brewing, finally, for the first time in our new building. It has been so long time in coming that next week we’ll be releasing a blog post detailing that milestone, from a project that started in the spring of 2019 and navigated all the way through the pandemic to the spring of 2021. Two full years!

So to celebrate, we are taking a closer look at a beer that was also designed to weather the longest of journeys - India Pale Ale. And for the next week (until Friday 30th April), we are offering 10% off Orkney IPA and Muckle from our Swannay webshop!

10% off Orkney IPA | Or 10% off Orkney IPA cases...

10% off Muckle | Or 10% off Muckle cases...

We first released our Orkney IPA in 2008. Back then, Rob wanted to fill the gap between Scapa Special at 4.2% and Orkney Blast at 6.0%. A British-style India Pale Ale was the best option; accessible, easy-drinking but with balanced hop character.

Even further back, in the 19th Century ‘pale ales for the Indian market’ were being shipped to India on journeys that took at least four months. With the heating and cooling the beer experienced, it would have mellowed the flavours before arrival, which was the interpretation Rob wanted for Orkney IPA.

But the next question was how to get the hop character. So we deviated a little from the 19th Century (ok, we deviated a lot). From the US we added piney, grapefruity Chinook and the spicy, herbal citrus rind of Summit. And to balance these, we also included Dana.

Dana is a brilliant hop from Slovenia that adds subtle floral and lemony bitterness into a beer, and works really well with bigger flavoured American hops (from where it is descended). We find that tying in the DNA really makes a hop schedule work. You can’t argue with genetics, after all - just ask Lewis!

Something else you can’t go up against is history. All the IPA that ended up in India endured a long sea voyage, just like every one of our beers that reaches you. Admittedly the ferry to the Scottish mainland isn’t quite as disruptive (unless you’re holding onto the deck railings in winter), but we like the symmetry.

The beer has gone on to become one of our most highly acclaimed, from winning the overall cask trophy at the International Brewing Awards in 2011 to CAMRA Champion Beer of Scotland seven years later. It has staying power, right now when we need it more than ever. 

So Orkney IPA features British malt, American and Slovenian hops, and takes to the waves just like its forebears did over two hundred years ago. It has its sea legs. It has balance. And now it has 10% off, as well.