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An Indian Pale Ale (IPA) is a style of beer that is more hoppy than other pale ales. Hops are a key ingredient in all beers, but IPA adds hops in abundance throughout the brewing process. Favorite hops found in IPA include Cascade, Centennial and Chinook, with many breweries experimenting with other varieties, often in custom combinations. Brewers usually stick to pale malts, although some also add Crystal, Vienna or Munich malts. All these different brewing methods result in a huge diversity of available IPAs. British and American styles are very different, although Indian Pale Ales are generally a brighter, more lively, greener, and bitterer beer.
Bitterness: 40–100 IBU
Color: 4–16 SRM
What Is the Difference Between India Pale Ale and Pale Ale?
Indian pale ales fall under the category of pale ales, but each has its own characteristics. Adding to the confusion, the line between pale ales and IPAs sometimes converges as brewers adjust the hop levels of individual beers. For example, you might find a hoppy pale ale and a milder IPA. In general, pale ales are brighter, lighter, and have a balance of malt and hops, while IPAs celebrate hops in full force and tend to focus on malt flavors. Generally speaking, IPAs are also higher in alcohol.
The Indian Pale Ale style was developed by British brewers in the 1820s and was named after the style in advertisements in Australia. Although there are some problems with this story, the IPA is said to have been created to preserve British beer for use on the long journey to the Indian colonies. The high amount of hops in this stronger beer protected it from the heat and movement of British sailboats at the time. However, this may just be a legend, as other British beers ship just fine without any extra hops.
The IPA has a medium, persistent finish with a pleasant hop aroma. Golden-yellow to amber in colour, the wine is full-bodied with plenty of balanced malty sweetness.
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India pale ale is a style within a style, and the popularity of this pale ale has led brewers to develop sub-styles as well. As you explore IPAs, you'll also find beers that don't fit conveniently into any style characteristics because brewers enjoy seeing where they can take IPAs.
The English-style IPA retains a balance of hop and malt flavors, similar to that of English pale ales, but with increased bitterness. Native hops varietals are used for an earthy, floral taste, along with English ale yeasts that impart a fruity character. The well-rounded beer typically has a range of 40 to 60 IBUs and an alcohol content between 5 percent and 7 percent ABV.
When American craft breweries got hold of IPAs, the style really took off. It's a favorite beer for microbrewers and many specialize in this style alone. Generally, American IPAs are floral, fruity, and much hoppier than their British counterparts, with an IBU range from 50 to 70. Local hops varieties, such as Cascade, give them a citrusy twang.
The two coasts have also adopted individual styles. West Coast breweries tend toward an intense hoppiness, while East Coast brewers typically follow the English style with a maltier brew that's balanced with hops. There are also breweries that go their own directions, and the American IPA market offers limitless possibilities for so-called "hopheads" to enjoy.
Imperial India pale ale (or double IPA) takes the American style to the extreme. This is where you'll find the hoppiest and strongest beers. The bitterness begins at 65 IBUs, and some brews hit an unforgettable 100 IBUs. Likewise, the alcohol content is more like a weak wine, falling between 7.6 percent and 10.6 percent ABV.
New England IPA
New England IPA is a unique style that features late and dry hopping techniques. This enhances the ale's juiciness and gives it a tropical hop flavor. Some add wheat or oats to create a cloudy beer, similar to wheat ales. Generally, these are lighter colored ales with a moderate strength and 50 to 70 IBUs.
The overwhelming hops flavor of this brew makes it a tough beer to pair with foods. It's not impossible, though, and there are some interesting possibilities. Barbecue foods and sauce are popular pairings. Subtly flavored roasted meats with garlic and rosemary are good matches, too. Try an IPA with American classics like macaroni and cheese and cheeseburgers, and explore blue and goat cheeses, aged cheddar, and even rich cheese pairings. While some people advise against it, spicy Indian and Mexican dishes can be interesting with the right IPA.