IPA or India Pale Ale has it’s origins in the UK as a style of beer that was able to withstand the conditions it was subjected to on board a ship to India. The early India Pale Ales were highly hopped pale ales that were brewed at the time. The extra bittering units from using more hops gave the beer qualities making it less prone to spoil.
IPA has evolved to incorporate a variety of styles, typically they are English IPA’s, American IPA’s and Double IPA’s
There are many beers brewed commercially in the UK that have the term IPA on the product that are in fact not much more than ordinary bitters. The are a growing number of brewers making IPA that more accurately reflect the original beer.
The primary goal of an IPA is higher bitterness, higher ABV and more maltiness than an ordinary pale ale, Meantime Brewings India Pale Ale is a good example of an authentic English IPA using English hops and malt. Many IPA’s brewed in the UK make use of more citrus or aromatic American hops and this is where the line blurs between UK and US versions of the IPA.
Overall the English IPA should have pronounced bitterness and aroma with dry hopping playing a part with UK hop varieties, a colour somewhere between light amber and copper and a medium to dry mouthfeel and generally slightly more subtle than the american counterpart.
IBUs: 40 – 60
SRM: 8 – 14
OG: 1.050 – 1.075
FG: 1.010 – 1.018
ABV: 5 – 7.5%
The American IPA is clearly the same as the English version predominantly using US ingredients. In many ways it is truer to the historical original than many English IPA’s but more free range has taken hold with bolder flavours and bigger grain bills bumping up the alcohol content.
The key qualities of the American IPA are an intense hop aroma and bitterness, again dry hopping is almost always the par for this style. Big citrus hops are the most frequently used varieties and lots of them. The hops are the main drive here maltiness is subtle as are fruit notes from esters. Colour is somewhere between golden and reddish copper.
IBUs: 40 – 70
SRM: 6 – 15
OG: 1.056 – 1.075
FG: 1.010 – 1.018
ABV: 5.5 – 7.5%
Double IPA / Imperial IPA
The double or imperial IPA is a result of US craft brewers pushing the boundaries of the IPA style and going bigger and bolder. The Double IPA is a higher alcohol by volume and more intensely hopped version of the US IPA. Reaching 10% ABV or more the bittering units needed to balance the malt are higher however with more grain the style shouldn’t be overly malty all the flavour should be from aroma hops and dry hopping.
IBUs: 60 – 120
SRM: 8 – 15
OG: 1.070 – 1.090
FG: 1.010 – 1.020
ABV: 7.5 – 10%