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India Pale Ale Has Changed the Way We Drink 

IPA, or India Pale Ale, has become one of the most important beer styles in the United States. After generations as a lager-focused country, the craft beer movement has raised the IPA profile to the upper echelons. Here’s why that has happened.


What is an IPA?

IPA (also called IPA beer) stands for India Pale Ale. Many people often wonder why an IPA is called an IPA. The story is fascinating. Back when the British controlled India as a colony, they had to ship lots of equipment and provisions from England to India. Since this was before air travel and the cutting of the Suez Canal, their ships had to sail the long route. This route ran all the way south along the west coast of Africa, around the Cape of Good Hope, and then across the Indian Ocean. Eventually, they realized that the beers—which were shipped primarily in large casks—that had been seasoned the most assertively with hops were the ones that survived the long sea voyage in the best condition. Ultimately, brewers in England began adding extra hops to their beers that were destined for India, and the term India Pale Ale, or IPA, was born. Today, those hoppy beers, fermented in the ale style, carry on the name and tradition…if not the same long voyage.


What is the difference between an IPA and “regular” beers?

Beer can be produced in many styles. The main distinctions are between ales and lagers, and within each large category, there are countless sub-categories, of which IPA is one. An IPA is like any other ale in that it is top-fermented at a relatively higher temperature than lagers, which are known as bottom-fermented. IPAs tend to have a more aggressive hoppiness, and generally higher alcohol, than their lager counterparts. But IPA is a “regular” beer—it’s just a specific kind of “regular” beer.


What does an IPA taste like?

IPA tends to have a more bitter character from the hops, and depending on what kind of hops are used, there may be notes of flowers, citrus fruit, and fresh-cut grass. Flavor in IPAs is also determined by the type of malt used, the type of yeast, how it’s been aged, and the level of alcohol. In that regard, they can also be chocolatey, fruity, spicy, and more. Even within the category of IPA, there are countless variations. These variations include hazy IPA, NEIPA / New England IPA, milkshake IPA, sour IPA, West Coast IPA, double IPA / DIPA, Imperial IPA, DDH IPA / double dry-hopped IPA, Brut IPA, and more.


What is a session IPA?

A session IPA is a beer that tends to have a milder character, lower alcohol, and can be consumed in quantity in a single sitting, or session.


What is a West Coast IPA?

West Coast IPA refers to a specific style of IPA in which hops are the focal point, lending the beer often powerful notes of citrus and occasionally tropical fruit, as well as a notable bitterness.


What is an IPA glass?

Though you can drink IPA from whatever glass you’d like, a classic IPA glass is shaped like a tulip and tends to have a narrower lip than the widest part of the bowl. Of course, if you want to drink an IPA from a classic pint glass, or even a red plastic Solo cup, go for it: It’ll still be delicious!


What’s the difference between a Double IPA and an Imperial IPA?

Double IPA and Imperial IPA refer to the same thing: A beer that has significantly more hops in the recipe, and, often, more alcohol than a regular IPA.


What’s the difference between a normal IPA and a Hazy IPA?

Hazy IPAs are generally more tropical in character, and, due to several decisions during the brewing process—including often the use of higher-protein malt ingredients, for example—a hazy appearance and a rich, almost velvety texture on the tongue.


What does a hazy IPA taste like?

Hazy IPA tends to be a bit more tropical in character, with pronounced hoppy bitterness and occasionally a hint of sweetness…but not always. There is a pretty wide range of stylistic variation even within the category of Hazy IPA.


Is a Hazy IPA the same as a Juicy IPA?

They are related, but a Juicy IPA tends to be a bit fruitier in flavor and often is even hoppier than the already hoppy Hazy IPA.


What is a New England IPA?

New England IPA tends to be hazy in appearance, with a velvety texture on the palate.


What is a milkshake IPA?

A milkshake IPA is an increasingly popular IPA style that leverages lactose and unfermentable or difficult-to-ferment sugar, as well as other flavoring agents like spices and fruits, to create a beer that is creamy, rich, and often a bit sweet.


What is a sour IPA?

A Sour IPA is an IPA that is typically produced in the New England IPA style, yet with lactobacillus, it is given a mouthwatering, tart character. Sour IPAs tend to be excellent pairing partners for a wide range of richer foods since their sourness cuts right through fat and protein.


What are popular brands of IPA?

There are many popular brands of IPA, including Lagunitas, Broken Skull (El Segundo), Goose Island, Elysian, New Belgium, Oskar Blues, Bell’s Brewing, Founders Brewing, Ballast Point, Stone Brewing, Sierra Nevada, Dogfish Head, Harpoon, Deschutes, Sweetwater, Cigar City, Terrapin, and Surly.


Browse our full selection of IPA online or check out our selection of highly-rated IPA for a great new IPA to try this week!


Want to learn more about IPA?

Visit our Guide to IPA to learn more about IPA.