India pale ale or IPA is probably the most popular style of beer right now. It is a fruity-hoppy beer style and very à la mode. But what is it? How does it taste? And what are NEIPA or Double IPA? Scroll down to learn all about India pale ale.

1. What's IPA beer then?

India pale ale is a broad beer style, but recognisable by the focus on hops. They are hop forward, refreshing but fruity-bitter beers. In other words, the brewer puts great emphasis on the choice hop, of which there are about 200 different worldwide!

IPAs bottom fermented ales. It is a hoppy sub-style of the broader category of "pale ales". It is only recently that we are so accustomed to them in pubs and bars across the UK. As a result of the craft ale movement, we are now lucky to see vibrancy, experimentation and diversity in IPAs. 

2. What does IPA stand for? 

IPA stands for India pale ale. It is not “Indian”, so don’t make that mistake.

3. IPA meaning

As mentioned, “IPA” is an initialism for India Pale Ale. This is style of beer in the pale ale category, known for its hoppy flavour and aromas. 

4. IPA alcohol?

Alcohol content: IPAs generally vary from 5.5% to 7.5% but most are around 6-7%, but may be below (Session IPA) or above (Double IPA)

5.New England IPA, East Coast IPA & Session IPA? 

Brewers from all over the world love the experimental brewing art. Today, there is a very large IPA lineage with a variety of variants and regional differences. From United States we have both east and west coast IPAs.

  • The West Coast IPA is geographically closer to the hop farms in the US and is therefore usually very hoppy, bitter or more experimental. Incidentally, Greg Koch of Stone Brewing sees himself as the inventor of the West Coast IPA. Example: Stone IPA
  • The East Coast IPA is also heavily hopped but has a more pronounced malt character and is somewhat full-bodied and sweeter. Example: Brooklyn East IPA
  • New England IPA (NEIPA) is a relatively young style and very trendy! Cloudy, fruity and juicy and not so bitter, as the hops are added late. Example: Brew Age Alphabetic NEIPA
  • Session IPAs are lighter and have less alcohol (about 3-4%). They were originally brewed for the factory and port workers in England to be able to work after a beer. Example: Fourpure's Session IPA. Read Session IPA for more information.
  • Black IPA is a darker version of the IPA, the black colour is due to the use of roasted malts. Example: Black IPA from Emelisse
  • Double IPA (DIPA) or Imperial IPA is a stronger, more intense variety with higher malt, hops and alcohol content. Even more intense? The triple IPA. Example: Kees Double Rye IPA
  • White IPA is usually brewed with wheat malt, but still has the hop emphasis of an IPA . Example: About Source World White IPA
  • Alcohol-free IPAs have no alcohol and taste like an IPA! They are brewed with a special yeast.

IPA Beer Case

-5%

16 Items

£ 41.99 £ 39.89

Lagunitas Hazy Wonder Value Case

IPA | 6.0% | 24 x 36 cl

£ 49.99

Lagunitas A Little Sumpin Sumpin Value Case

-14%

IPA | 7.5% | 24 x 36 cl

£ 69.36 £ 59.99

Lagunitas 12th of Never Ale Value Case

-9%

IPA | 5.5% | 24 x 36 cl

£ 54.96 £ 49.99
Temporarily sold out

6. Drinking IPA

How does an IPA beer taste?

The types of hops that are used determine the aromas: IPA may taste like citrus or tropical fruits, be grassy, flowery or earthy, but also reminiscent of pines or even honey. Typical American hop varieties include Chinook, Citra or Amarillo, German hop varieties such as Hallertau varieties or Mandarina.

In addition, the hops always ensure a certain bitterness. Because an IPA is usually refreshing, it is more commonly regarded as a summer beer.

How do I drink an IPA?

Drink an IPA as fresh as you can. The flavour of India Pale Ale is based on the hops’ aromas, but they can evaporate over time. Therefore, the younger the beer is, the more intense the flavour is.

The ideal drinking temperature for IPA?

The flavours unfold best in a tulip-shaped glass at about 6 to 10 degrees. You can read more about a more detailed article about beer glasses here. If you are interested in drinking temperatures, read our 'How cold should beer be served?' article.

IPA beer food pairing

IPA beer is also well liked thanks to the fact that it can be paired with different dishes in order to enhance the overall taste of both the food in question and the beer. For example, if you can handle a bit of heat, IPAs will form a pretty wild combination with spicy dishes. Take a sip after a fork or spoonful of Thai or Indian food to experience for yourself how the bitterness of the beer and spiciness of the food work together to elevate each other’s intensity. Conversely, if you’re at a bar tucking into those complimentary peanuts, you may even notice that the salt will somewhat ease the beer’s bitterness and emphasise the fruity and flowery hoppy notes. Let’s not forget either that aromatic IPAs with hints of fruit can also serve as the perfect partner to a fresh fruit salad.

How to pair an IPA

An IPA is an intense beer, so intense dishes are a well-matched addition.  When pairing food and beer the main rule to follow is to match intensity of flavour to strength of beers. For example, strong cheese, roasted meat, a hearty burger with bacon, but also deep-fried snacks or a cheese-rich pizza (including hot peppers) fit very well. 

Salty foods are also a good combination as it softens the bitterness of the beer, and balances flavours of the IPA.  Honestly, anything with fat and salt will be beautifully balanced by the CO2 from beers!

7. Why is an IPA usually more expensive?

Hops, in relative terms, are the most expensive ingredient in brewing. As explained, more hops are used in IPAs than in other beer styles. Usually, IPAs are also hop-stuffed, this is an extra step in the brewing process. It requires more equipment; this can affect the price.

A lot of it however is dependent on the brewery, the distributor and of course the quality. Craft breweries generally value more high-quality ingredients and a craft brewing process. 

Try them for yourself!

Tasting is about studying and lot of it is to do with preference. The more you try, the better your understanding of IPA varieties, but also your understanding of your own likes.

 

IPA Beer Case

-5%

16 Items

£ 41.99 £ 39.89

Lagunitas Hazy Wonder Value Case

IPA | 6.0% | 24 x 36 cl

£ 49.99

Lagunitas A Little Sumpin Sumpin Value Case

-14%

IPA | 7.5% | 24 x 36 cl

£ 69.36 £ 59.99

Lagunitas 12th of Never Ale Value Case

-9%

IPA | 5.5% | 24 x 36 cl

£ 54.96 £ 49.99
Temporarily sold out