India Pale Ale (IPA)
The IPA is perhaps one of the most polarizing “types” of beer. It’s well known amongst craft beer lovers. However, it is more than just the “hoppy, bitter” brew that people tend to love or hate.
Indian Pale Ale (IPA) - 101
Two of the most common statements we hear about IPA’s are “I HATE IPA’s. They’re so hoppy and bitter.” and “I LOVE IPA’s because they’re strong and intense.”. While we understand that IPA’s aren’t for everyone, we’re here to educate the masses and tell you why theres more to an IPA than meets the eye (or the tastebuds as the case may be).
The IPA is a beer that actually covers quite a wide range of styles and flavours. Yes, you’re sure to find that exact hoppy and bitter version you may love (or hate), but you might be surprised to learn that not all IPA’s have that same profile.
Below are a variety of different styles of IPA’s (meaning that each one has a certain flavour, mouthfeel, and appearance, but ultimately all fall under the umbrella style of the IPA). Check them out to learn more about each. Maybe you’ll surprise yourself and find a new style of IPA you want to try out!
So you want to drink an IPA
As you may already know, or are quickly starting to learn, the IPA is a very broad style of beer. At its most simple definition, the IPA is an overly hopped pale ale. But don’t let this deceive you into thinking it’s always hoppy and overly bitter. IPA’s come in many varieties with a wide range of colours, flavours, bitterness levels, and alcohol content levels.
Before we jump into each variety specifically, let’s dive quickly into the origin story of the IPA and how it came to be one of the most popular styles of craft beer available today.
Where did the ipa come from?
Legend has it that the English-Style IPA recipe (the original IPA) was invented for long journeys to the far regions of the British Empire in India. There was a need to provide beer for the British troops (duh) on their long journey sailing to India. India was an unfavorable brewing ground due to the intense heat, necessitating a beer that could survive a gruelling half-year journey from Britain.
A fine London brewery named Bow Brewery, owned by George Hodgson, responded to this need by shipping a heavily hopped and strong beer called “October ale,” which could reportedly be stored in a cellar for two years, aging like fine wine. Little did he know, he was on to something amazing.
The beer survived the journey and even improved in quality, making it the IPA prototype. Gradually, it became paler and weaker, as bigger breweries imitated Hodgson’s style. However, around 1976, American craft brewers revived the IPA when recreating some forgotten British styles and many (many) more.
English IPA’s are the closest you’ll get to the original India pale ale. Compared to the American IPA, these tend to have a less intense hop flavour. Though not as popular nowadays, you’ll still find some delicious craft English IPA’s out there.
NEW ENGLAND IPA (NEIPA)
NEIPA’s (also known as “Hazy” IPA’s) are all the craze for craft beer lovers. These IPA’s are set apart from other styles by the distinct (you guessed it) haze. These beers are unfiltered, which causes the hazy color, and often have oats and wheat added into the recipe. Try a Hazy IPA and you’ll experience a vibrant citrus flavor with low bitterness, refreshing and guaranteed to be delicious.
Another “trendy” style of beer to come in recent years is the Milkshake IPA. These IPAs add lactose as well as oats, fruit, and/or vanilla. The lactose gives a sweet and creamy experience while the fruit and vanilla can enhance the milkshake/smoothie feel. This beer is definitely a delicious treat!
Where the Double/Triple IPA is for the “risk-takers” of IPA drinkers, the Session IPA is for those of us more “casual” IPA drinkers. With this beer, you’ll get a big dose of hops with no more than 5% ABV. These are perfect for the IPA lover who wants to crush a few without going too crazy.
IMPERIAL (DOUBLE) IPA & TRIPLE IPA
Hop lovers unite! The Imperial IPA (also referred to as a Double IPA) came to be from the desire to add even more hops to the IPA recipe. This IPA is stronger and hoppier, a turbo-charge IPA, if you will. The added hops are balanced out by using more malts which also means higher alcohol content. The Triple IPA is like a double IPA amped up. A rare release, the Triple IPA , is a beer not for the faint of heart. You’ll find these pushing 13% ABV so take our advice and pace yourself.
WEST COAST IPA (AMERICAN IPA)
The American IPA style can be divided into two categories: West Coast and East Coast. Both styles are incredibly popular for craft brewers to recreate. West Coast IPA’s tend to be more aggressively hoppy and can be powerfully bitter (what most people automatically think of when they refer to an IPA).
EAST COAST IPA (AMERICAN IPA)
The East Coast IPA, also an American IPA style, tends to be more balanced. They’ll still have some bitterness, but with a much more rounded out flavour. Between the two American IPA’s, you’ll find a wide range of craft brew recipes with unique takes on this style of India Pale Ale.
Though not “technically” an IPA, this brew is also known as a Cascadian Dark Ale. Essentially, this beer looks like a stout, smells like a West Coat IPA, and tastes somewhere in between. Not to heavy and not too sweet, the Black IPA is a dark, intense, and often quite a strong beer.
Belgian is a word, when paired with beer, that is a sure success. The Belgian IPA, therefore, is a hybrid style of two very popular beers. Brewed with Belgian yeasts, this beer style tastes like a spicy hefeweizen mixed with a hoppy IPA. Intrigued? We figured.