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IPA - India Pale Ale

India Pale Ale beers have a pale amber colour an ABV between 5% and 7.5% and a high bitterness.

You'll love IPA's if you like tropical fruits like peach or mango, herbal notes and some bitterness.

India Pale Ale characteristics

– Modern IPA's are decidedly hoppy and bitter, with strong hoppy and floral aromas, specially from American hops such as Citrus and Mosaic.
– Some versions are dry-hopped to get an even more intense aroma.
– Its color ranges from medium-gold to amber and even to dark brown and black in the case of Black IPA's.
– The body is medium-light and the ABV is not very high, in the range of 5 to 7,5% ABV.
– The English styles have a more sweet character derived of the malts used (giving them a caramel, bread, and toast touch).


IPA stands for India Pale Ale. Its origins trace back to the 18th century, around 1780s, when the first pale ales started to be exported to India.

This beers were exported to middle and upper class European expats in India—civil servants, military staff, etc. Some of the very first exporters of this kind of beer were Hodgson—regarded as the pioneer of IPA—, Bass or Allsopp. The beer was strongly hopped as that was thought to be necesary when sending beer to warm latitudes in order to survive the long journey. During the journey, the strong waves and temperature changes were by chance the factors that turned the original October Ale exported by Hodgson into a more mature hoppy beer that was highly appreciated by the customer in the East Indias.

Around 1835, the style was first named as East India Pale Ale. Althought these beers were not made for local comsumption, the style started to get popular in the UK, allegedly after a shipwreck on the coast of Lancashire in 1839, were the locals could taste some of the samples that were being sent abroad.

After that, and with the arrival of the railway, the style became popular all over UK. It evolved through the 19th and 20th century, becoming something weaker, analog to a plain old pale ale, and with the advent of refrigeration, it slowly died in the 70's.

The 80's saw the resurrection of the India Pale Ale, thanks to the efforts of American craft brewers that started recreating old English styles, packing IPA's with a high amount of hops. American style IPA's were inspired in Ballantine IPA, that was in production in the US from 1890 until 1990. First modern IPA's were based in hops from Yakima valley like Cascade, Chinook, Centennial, Citra and Mosaic that gave origin to West Coast IPA's. American IPA's were pioneered in the 70's by New Albion Brewing in California, but it was in 1975 when Liberty Ale by Anchor Brewery was released and considered the first modern IPA.

Later in the 90's the craft beer revolution come along with more hoppy IPA's like Lagunitas IPA, Stone IPA or Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale. Also East Coast IPA's—more herbal than West Coast—came along, with examples as Brooklyn Heart IPA and Bell's Two Hearted Ale.

The 2000's saw the rise of Double IPA's like Russian River's Pliny the Elder, that raised the alcohol volume to 8%, and since then, many other substyles of IPA have appeared, like New England IPA, Black IPA, Brut IPA, Session IPA or Triple IPA.

Related Styles


American IPA is the American reinterpretation of English IPA using American ingredients. It is strongly hoppy and bitter, with a balance towards hops and a clear fermentation profile. Color goes from gold to reddish-amber. Aroma is floral, hoppy, bringing the characteristic properties of American hops like Mosaic, Citrus or Cascade.

Black IPA

Black IPA is a variation of the American IPA style. It has the characteristics of an American IPA, but its darker in color. Darker malts are generally supportive and allow this style to be quite drinkable. It gives the overall impression of an American IPA plus some restrained roast, but with less body and roasty flavour than a Stout or a Porter.


Imperial IPA or Double IPA is a strongly hopped strong pale ale. Its appearance is golden to light orange-copper, with almost no hazyness. Aromas are predominantly hoppy, with notes of American hops—pine, citrus, tropical fruits, etc.—, and additional dry hopping may give some herbal character. Flavour is highly bitter, very hoppy, with floral hints from the American hop varieties. Finish is dry to medium-dry and medium to high carbonation. It's bitter and hoppier than a English IPA or an American IPA, and less malty and less alcoholic than an American Barleywine.


NEIPA or New England India Pale Ale is one of the more recent styles in the craft beer world. Its characterized by its hazy, turbid, even opaque appearance. Hop flavour is very high, and aromas are fruity and tropical. It has a smooth and juicy character. Compared to an American IPA, a NEIPA is more fruity, less bitter and much hazier.

Session IPA

Session IPA has a broad definition, being its main characteristics being low in ABV—less than 4.5%—but at the same time having a hop dominant taste and flavor. Compared to an American Pale Ale it has a more hoppy character, but less alcohol.

Brut IPA

Brut IPA is a brand new style pioneered in 2018 by Kim Sturdavant from San Francisco Social Kitchen and Brewery. It departs from a double or triple IPA with the extra addition of amyloglucosidase, an enzyme that helps to tamp down the residual sugars from fermentation. The result is a very soft, dry aromatic and not very bitter IPA. Its color is very pale and could have some hazyness, and some of its base profile ingredients are wheat, rice and corn.

A Life In Brewing interview

Stavanger (Norway), 28/03/2018

Mike Murphy (Lervig), “I was tired to be ‘the guy behind the scenes’. I was a front guy before, and then when I moved to Denmark, other brewers took all the credit. I didn’t want it to happen again, so I moved here!”


A Life In Brewing

Read the whole interview with Mike Murphy

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