What Is IPA Beer? A Complete Guide to India Pale Ale

India Pale Ale, commonly referred to as IPA, is a popular beer style that has taken the world by storm. With its hoppy flavor and long-standing history, IPA beers have become a staple in craft breweries and bars worldwide. But what exactly is an IPA beer? And why has it become such a beloved beer style? In this post, we will explore everything you need to know about IPA beers, including their origin, flavor profile, food pairing suggestions, and some of the best IPA beers to try. So grab a cold one, sit back, and let’s delve into the world of India Pale Ales.

Introduction to IPA Beers

Introduction to IPA Beers

India Pale Ale, or commonly known as IPA, is a beer that has recently gained tremendous popularity. This type of beer has an interesting history that dates back more than two centuries ago.

The story of IPA started in the 18th century when British beer drinkers were looking for new and exciting flavors. At that time, the British East India Company was importing products from India, such as tea and spices. The company also shipped beer to India, but the hot weather and long journey made it difficult to preserve the beer’s quality.

To overcome these challenges, brewers began to experiment with different brewing techniques. They increased the amount of hops, which acted as a natural preservative. This led to the creation of the first India Pale Ale.

Today, there are many varieties of IPA available, each with its unique flavor profile. One of the most exciting aspects of IPA is the variation in hop varieties used to create them. Hops are responsible for the bitterness, aroma, and taste of the beer. Therefore, understanding the diverse hops varieties and their characteristics is key to enjoying IPA beers.

Craft breweries have taken this to heart, and many have developed their own signature IPA beers, using locally sourced ingredients. These craft beers are often characterized by being bold and flavorful, appealing to beer enthusiasts all over the world.

In conclusion, the history of IPA beers showcases how brewing techniques have evolved over time to cater to the ever-changing tastes and demands of beer enthusiasts. The use of hops continues to be a crucial element in the creation of IPA beer, providing unique flavors and aromas that set them apart from other types of beer. From classic to craft, IPA beers remain one of the most popular types of beer among beer drinkers worldwide.

What Does IPA Stand For?

India Pale Ale, commonly known as IPA, is a popular beer style known for its hoppy flavor and aroma. But what does IPA stand for? IPA stands for India Pale Ale. It’s believed that the name “India Pale Ale” was coined by British brewers in the 19th century who were exporting pale ale to British troops in India.

The story goes that the brewers wanted to create a beer that could survive the long journey from Britain to India without spoiling. They did this by adding extra hops to the beer, which acted as a natural preservative. The increased bitterness of the hopped beer also helped to balance out the sweetness of the malt, resulting in a refreshing and satisfying drink.

IPA beers started gaining popularity in the United States during the craft beer boom of the 1980s and 1990s. American brewers began experimenting with different types of hops and brewing techniques, creating new variations of the IPA that are now enjoyed around the world.

Today, IPA beers come in many different styles, including West Coast IPA, New England IPA, Double IPA, and Session IPA. Each style has its own unique characteristics, but they all share a common trait: a focus on hop-forward flavor and aroma.

In summary, IPA stands for India Pale Ale, a beer style with a rich history dating back to the 19th century. Its popularity has grown over time, leading to an explosion of new IPA styles and flavors around the world.

IPA Beer Flavor and Characteristics

Different Types of IPA Beers

Different Types of IPA Beers

India Pale Ale, or IPA, is one of the most popular styles of craft beer today. While the original version was a highly hopped and bitter beer, newer versions have evolved to create a range of different taste profiles. In this section, we will take a closer look at some of the most popular types of IPA beers.

Double IPA

Double IPA, also known as Imperial IPA, is a type of India Pale Ale that has a higher alcohol content and more hops than traditional IPAs. The bitterness level in Double IPAs is generally between 60-120 IBUs (international bittering units), making them a favorite among hopheads. These beers often have a strong citrusy aroma and a sweet malt flavor to balance out the bitterness. Some popular Double IPA examples include Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewing, Heady Topper from The Alchemist, and Double Trouble from Founders Brewing.

Session IPA

A relatively new style of IPA, Session IPA, also known as Sessionable IPA, is a lighter version with lower alcohol content than traditional IPAs. The bitterness level is usually around 40-70 IBUs, which makes it easier to drink several in one sitting. Session IPAs often have a fruity aroma and a light body, making them perfect for summer days. Some popular Session IPA examples include All Day IPA from Founders Brewing, Easy Jack from Firestone Walker Brewing, and Go-To IPA from Stone Brewing.

New England IPA

New England IPA, also known as Hazy IPA, is a trendy style of IPA that originated in the Northeastern United States. This beer is characterized by its cloudy appearance and juicy flavor profile. With a low to moderate bitterness level around 30-60 IBUs, New England IPAs are not as bitter as their West Coast counterparts. Instead, they focus on fruity, tropical flavors and aromas from aromatic hops and yeast strains. Some popular New England IPA examples include Julius from Tree House Brewing, Haze from Tree House Brewing, and Sip of Sunshine from Lawson’s Finest Liquids.

West Coast IPA

West Coast IPA is one of the oldest styles of India Pale Ale and still remains a favorite among craft beer enthusiasts. Typically, these beers have a high bitterness level between 50-100 IBUs, which provides a strong hop flavor and aroma. The malt profile is often caramel-like, which balances out the bitterness and makes it more drinkable. Some popular West Coast IPA examples include Sculpin from Ballast Point Brewing, Enjoy By from Stone Brewing, and Blind Pig from Russian River Brewing.

In conclusion, whether you prefer a bitter or juicy IPA, there is a style for every taste bud. With so many different types of beers to choose from, it’s no wonder why IPAs remain a popular choice in the world of craft beer.

How to Pair IPA with Food

When it comes to pairing beer with food, IPA is a great choice due to its bold and flavorful profile. But how do you choose the right dish to complement an IPA? Here are some tips on how to pair IPA with different types of food:

Spicy Food

IPAs can hold their own against spicy dishes because they have a higher bitterness level that can help cut through the heat. Look for IPAs with tropical fruit notes or citrusy undertones to balance out the spice. Some great spicy food and IPA pairings include Thai curries with a West Coast style IPA, or Indian vindaloo with a Double IPA.


Cheese and beer are a match made in heaven, and IPA is no exception. The hoppy bitterness of an IPA pairs well with sharp or tangy cheeses like cheddar, gouda, or blue cheese. Try pairing a New England IPA with brie or camembert, or a Belgian-style IPA with a nutty aged Gruyere.


The crisp and refreshing nature of IPA makes it a perfect pairing for seafood. A light and citrusy IPA goes well with delicate white fish like cod or tilapia, while a more robust IPA pairs well with stronger-flavored fish like salmon or tuna. For a classic seafood pairing, try a West Coast IPA with a plate of fish and chips.


Believe it or not, IPA can also be paired with desserts! The bitter hops in an IPA can balance out the sweetness of sugary treats. Pair a fruity IPA with a berry tart or cheesecake, or try a chocolate stout IPA with a rich chocolate cake.

When it comes to pairing IPA with food, there are no hard and fast rules. Experiment with different flavors and textures to find the perfect combination that suits your taste buds. Cheers to good food and great beer!

The Best IPA Beers to Try

When it comes to IPA beers, there are plenty of options available, but some stand out above the rest. Here’s a list of the top-rated IPA beers and best IPA breweries that you should try:

  • Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, California: This Double IPA is consistently rated as one of the best in the world, with a perfect balance of hops and malt.

  • Heady Topper from The Alchemist in Stowe, Vermont: This New England-style IPA is hazy, juicy, and deliciously hoppy, with notes of tropical fruit and citrus.

  • Tree House Brewing Company in Charlton, Massachusetts: This small, family-owned brewery produces some of the best IPAs on the East Coast, including Julius, Green, and Haze.

  • Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan: Two Hearted Ale is Bell’s flagship IPA and has been named the best beer in America several times. It’s a classic American IPA with a floral, hoppy aroma and a balanced bitterness.

  • Other Half Brewing in Brooklyn, New York: Known for its hazy, juicy IPAs, Other Half has quickly become one of the best IPA breweries in the country. Their Mylar Bags and Double Dry-Hopped All Green Everything are both must-tries.

  • Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, California: Sierra Nevada is a pioneer of American craft beer, and their Torpedo Extra IPA is still one of the best examples of a West Coast-style IPA.

These are just a few examples of the top-rated IPA beers and best IPA breweries out there. Whether you prefer a classic West Coast-style IPA or a hazy New England IPA, there’s sure to be an option on this list that will satisfy your taste buds.
After reading this complete guide to India Pale Ale, you should now have a better understanding of what IPA beer is and why it has become so popular among craft beer enthusiasts. From its history and definition to its flavor characteristics and food pairing suggestions, we’ve covered everything you need to know about IPA beer. Whether you’re a seasoned beer drinker or just starting to explore the world of craft beers, we hope this article has provided you with valuable insights and recommendations for your next IPA adventure. So grab a cold one, sit back, and enjoy the hoppy goodness that is IPA beer!

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button