OK, the bit about the loss of the Russian market for Burton Ale in the 1820's I've heard before. It's what comes after that's new to me.
"It is an old tale now, but nevertheless a fact, that the restrictions placed by Government on the Baltic trade, at the period mentioned, induced the Burton brewers to turn their attention to England's metropolis with such success, that it resulted in a complete revolution of the trade, and a new era set in for the town from that date. The cause of all the commotion in the brewing trade was East India pale ale, and many strange tales have been told of its origin, all of which refer to a consignment of beer sent out in a cloudy condition, which, after travelling round the world, came back to the country of its birth, in a condition so excellent, bright and sparkling, that it was said to be superior to a glass of Madeira or sparkling champagne. This adventure led up to much study and numerous scientific experiments, and after expending much trouble, time and money, the Burton brewers succeeded in improving their system, and were able to produce pale ale capable of retaining its peculiar qualities in any climate. Since then, by employing new and more efficient appliances and machinery, together with the acquisition of scientific assistance, the Burton trade has rapidly increased until it has reached its present colossal proportions."
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 2", Alfred Barnard, 1889, pages 421 - 422.
See the part I mean? Where a cloudy beer travels around the world and returns crystal clear and delicious. Either my brain had finally turned to mush, or I've never heard that particular tale. What about you?
Funny how when they're trying to say how great a beer is, they always start making a comparison with wine. Cultural cringe I'd call that. Still goes on a lot today. What with all that beer and food paring nonsense. (I look no further than a bag of pork scratchings or a scotch egg when I contemplate solids to accompany my beer. Meals just get in the way of a proper session.) Is Madeira mentioned because of the similarities its method of production shares with IPA's? Or just because it's a posh wine everyone has heard of? Is champagne mentioned because of the pale colour and fine carbonation of IPA? Frustratingly, there's no way of knowing.
I have one question about this story. Well, two, actually. Why did they ship cloudy beer, when all the instructions I've seen say you should let it drop bright first? Why was the beer brought back to Britain?