While the name Indian Pale Ale may make you believe otherwise, IPA beer is a type of pale ale that originated in England, not India, in the early 19th century. Considered a craft beer, IPAs have increased in popularity over the last decade. They have a unique, hoppy flavor that sets them apart from other pale ales and darker varieties. This type of brew can be broken down into three major categories: American IPAs, English IPAs, and Imperial IPAs.
While English IPAs aren’t always what comes to mind when someone pictures drinking an Indian Pale Ale, this category can be thought of as the original IPA. A smooth texture, a lower ABV, a more subtle taste, and a bitter, hoppy finish are all general characteristics of this British variety. One major contributor to the taste difference in American and English IPAs are the type of hops used. American IPAs are generally fruity and tropical while English IPAs have a more piney, earthy taste.
America caught on to the IPA trend in the 80s and made its own version of the popular drink, which quickly became popular on the West Coast. Since then, IPAs have made their way to the other side of the country, creating the West Coast IPA and East Coast IPA. These are just two of several different subcategories of IPA beer:
West Coast IPA: If the British IPA is considered subtle, the West Coast IPA can be considered the exact opposite. Fruity and crisp, this style uses bold flavors balanced with its bitterness. These beers are crisp, rather than creamy, and often are more carbonated.
East Coast IPA: If a West Coast IPA and an English IPA had a baby, the result would be an East Coast IPA. Piney and malty, the texture is similar to an English IPA but with bold notes that are a little lower on the flavor scale than West Coast styles.
Milkshake IPA: While there is actually no milk in a milkshake, it's generally Lactose (milk sugar), IPA, these drinks are known for their sweet flavors and low carbonation. Their smoothness gives them a creamy feel and sweet flavors, such as vanilla, are often added in the brewing process.
Belgian IPA: This unique style of IPA gets its name from the addition of Belgian yeast. The result is a beer with a higher ABV, lighter color, and a nice balance of fruity and spicy flavors.
New England IPA: The New England IPA, or hazy IPA, was designed for people who love the fruitiness of this type of beer without all the bitterness. These drinks are unfiltered and often have wheat or oats added to the mix. Despite the sweeter, citrusy taste, this style has a moderately high ABV level.
Session IPA: If you want to enjoy multiple beers without feeling a little more than buzzed after only one drink, session IPAs have the classic hoppy flavors of IPA but with less than 5% alcohol.
Imperial IPA: Also known as double or even triple IPAs, Imperial IPAs are a much more aggressive type of IPA. This style has a much more hoppy flavor and rarely falls below 7% ABV.
Brew Your Own IPA
While some people vehemently broadcast their distaste for IPA beer, there are just as many people who proclaim their praises for them. Whether you are working on developing your beer tasting palate or are trying out new recipes, you don’t want to miss out on this type of beer. Get started making your own with one of our IPA beer making kits above.