What is this IPA all about anyway?

What is this IPA all about anyway? 


IPA is a term thrown around a lot in the beer world these days. Although it seems it may refer to one thing, IPA has a rich and complicated history and is ever being evolved to new dimensions of flavour. In this article we wish to deliver some history of the IPA, the original meaning, and explain the differences between the multitude of different styles of IPA. 



Before IPAs emerged, there was a predecessor commonly known as the pale ale. Before the Pale Ale days in the early 1700s, beer in England was predominantly dark with flavours of roast, chocolate and coffee. These were known as Porters. Porters were made to counteract potential issues with contaminated water. As technology emerged and water became safer to drink, the English invented the Pale Ale. A beer that's golden to amber in colour with room to showcase malt and hops. The Pale Ale became a new revolution of enjoying beer. 


In the early 1800s the English starting exporting their pale ales to India (owned by British East India Company at the time). The issue though at the time was, due to the long journey it would take via ship, pale ales may have been compromised in flavour. To adjust for this, brewers started adding more hops to their pale ales in order for the hops to preserve the beers’ robustness and flavour. This became popular over in India where the beer landed and soon became popular back home in England too. Thus, the IPA was born and set to take on the beer world. 


What is an IPA? 

IPA stands for India Pale Ale. IPAs are known for their hop forward flavour backed by a malt backbone, a medium to sharp bitterness profile, and generally they are 6% ABV or above. While this seems straight forward IPAs have been scientifically experimented with and now there are thousands if not millions of combinations of hops, malts and other additions (adjuncts) that an IPA can showcase. 


Main Styles of IPA 

  • English IPA – The pioneers of IPA, these IPAs are much more maltier than a lot of the modern or ‘new world’ IPAs we see today on the market. 
  • American IPA – A distinctly hoppier IPA than the English IPA 
  • West Coast IPA – An evolution of the American IPA, the West Coast IPA emerged in California in a craft beer boom. The style is very hoppy with flavours predominantly of pine, resin and woodiness. 
  • New England IPA/NEIPA/Juicy IPA/East Coast IPA - This style originally emerged on the East Coast of the US. This IPA known to be thicker, hazy, juicy, citrusy and tropical in flavour. They are arguably the most popular trend of IPAs right now. 
  • Hazy IPA - A debatable term, a lot of people believe Hazy IPAs are NEIPAs. While they are a lot of the time, Hazy IPAs can refer to any IPA that’s cloudy with any combination of hop flavours from piney to citrusy to tropical to floral etc. 

Other IPAs 

  • Red IPA – An IPA where the malt has been roasted to an amber/red colour, creating a backdrop of caramel/toffee/biscuit maltiness in combination with bitter hops 
  • Brown IPA – Similar to Red IPA, malt is roasted to a brown colour to create, roasty, coffee, chocolate flavours with bitter hops 
  • Black IPA/Cascadian Dark Ale– Take the red/brown malt, roast it even more to black to create roasty, toasty flavours, generally with piney hops 
  • Belgian/White IPA – an IPA using a Belgian strain of yeast to give it a spicey, herby, fruit ester and/or funky profile, sometimes wheat is added too 
  • Milkshake IPA – An IPA generally hazy that also includes lactose to give it a smoother and sweeter flavour 
  • Oat Cream IPA – An IPA that has lots of oats added to make it thicker, sweeter and smoother with a layer oat flavour  
  • Brut IPA – A very dry IPA where most of the residual sugar is removed 
  • Cold IPA – One of the latest IPA trends, using a lager yeast and a light malt backbone, this clean IPA lets the hops shine with a crisp finish 


Other IPA Buzzwords 

  • XPA/Session IPA– An IPA under 6% ABV
  • Double IPA (DIPA)– An IPA that’s 8% ABV or more 
  • Triple IPA (TIPA) – An IPA that’s 10% ABV or more 
  • Dry-Hopping – Hopping a beer once it’s cooled to add more aromatic sensations and extra flavour 
  • Double Dry Hopped (DDH) - to dry hop a beer twice 
  • Triple Dry Hopped (TDH) - to dry hop a beer three times 
  • Adjunct - Any ingredient in a beer that is NOT water, hops, malt or yeast. CAN include things like fruit, chocolate, coffee, rice, corn, etc.


We hope you've learned a bit more about what IPAs are. Hope to see you soon in store!

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