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A bottle of Sweetwater IPA

India Pale Ale, abbreviated IPA, is an ale that is light amber to copper in colour, medium to medium-high alcohol by volume, with hoppy, bitter and sometimes malty flavour.[1] IPA is a style of beer that is usually included in the broader category of pale ale. It was first brewed in England in the 18th century.



IPA descends from the earliest pale ales of the 17th century. The term "pale ale" originally denoted an ale which had been brewed from pale malt.[2] The pale ales of the early 18th century were lightly hopped and quite different from later pale ales.[3] By the mid-18th century, pale ale was mostly manufactured with coke-fired malt, which produced less smoking and roasting of barley in the malting process, and hence produced a paler beer.[4] One such variety of beer was October beer, a pale well-hopped brew popular among the landed classes, who brewed it domestically; once brewed it was intended to cellar two years.[5]

The October beer of George Hodgson's Bow Brewery was the world's first India Pale Ale. Bow Brewery beers became popular among East India Company traders in the late 18th century because of the brewery's location and Hodgson's liberal credit line of 18 months. East Indiamen transported a number of Hodgson's beers to India, among them his October beer, which benefited exceptionally from conditions of the voyage and was apparently highly regarded among consumers in India.[6] Bow Brewery came into control of Hodgson's sons in the early 19th century, but their business practices alienated their customers. During the same period, several Burton breweries lost their European export market in Russia because of new tariffs on beer, and were seeking a new export market for their beer. At the behest of the East India Company, Allsop brewery developed a strongly hopped pale ale in the style of Hodgson's for export to India.[7] Other Burton brewers, including Bass and Salt, were anxious to replace their lost Russian export market and quickly followed Allsop's lead. Likely as a result of the advantages of Burton water in brewing,[8] Burton India Pale Ale was preferred by merchants and their customers in India.

Demand for the export style of pale ale, which had become known as "India Pale Ale," developed in England around 1840 and India Pale Ale became a popular product in England.[9] Some brewers dropped the term "India" in the late 19th century, but records indicated that these "pale ales" retained the features of earlier IPA.[10] American, Australian and Canadian brewers manufactured beer with the label IPA before 1900, and records suggest that these beers were similar to English IPA of the era.[11]

Hodgson's October beer style clearly influenced the Burton Brewers's India Pale Ale. His beer was only slightly higher in alcohol than most beer brewed in his day and would not have been considered a strong ale; however, a greater proportion of the wort was well-fermented, leaving behind few residual sugars, and the beer was strongly hopped.[12] The common story that early IPAs were much stronger than other beers of the time, however, is a myth.[13] Moreover, porter shipped to India at the same time survived the voyage, and common claims that Hodgson formulated his beer to survive the trip and that other beers would not survive the trip are probably false.[14] It is clear that by the 1860s, India Pale Ales were widely brewed in England and that they were much more attenuated and highly hopped than porters and many other ales.[15]

Great Britain

The term "IPA" is common in the United Kingdom for ordinary session bitters, for example Greene King IPA and Charles Wells Eagle IPA. IPAs with an abv of 4% or lower have been brewed in Britain since at least the 1920s.[16] Some British breweries brew an American style IPA. Examples are Meantime Brewery IPA, Dark Star IPA and Freeminer Trafalgar IPA.

In 2002, Caledonian Brewery Deuchars IPA. a 3.8% session bitter, took the title of CAMRA Supreme Champion Beer of Britain at the GBBF in London. Also in this year, Hopdaemon Brewery Skrimshander IPA, a 4.5% bitter, became a Kent Beer Festival Winner. Skrimshander is brewed with Kentish Fuggles and Goldings Hops.

United States

In the USA, IPA is a distinct variant, sometimes termed "American IPA".[17] A few examples are Alesmith IPA, Lagunitas IPA, Victory HopDevil, Bells Two Hearted Ale, Stone IPA, Russian River Blind Pig IPA, Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA, and some brands from Sierra Nevada such as the Harvest wet hop series, Torpedo Extra, and Celebration Ale. A number of American IPAs are brewed with a single hop variety or a blend or varieties including Cascade, Chinook, Centennial, Columbus, Simcoe, Amarillo, Tomahawk, Warrior, and Nugget.

Double India Pale Ale

Double India Pale Ales (abbreviated Double IPAs or DIPAs) are a strong, very hoppy style of pale beer. Also known as Imperial IPAs (or IIPAs), these beers have high amounts of malt and hops. Double IPAs typically have alcohol content above 7% by volume. IBUs are in the very high range (60+).

There are some brewers that believe the name should be San Diego Pale Ale, since the style most likely started near San Diego, CA [18] -- specifically a Double IPA brewed in 1994 by Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River, then head brewer of Blind Pig Brewing Company of Temecula, CA.[19] Cilurzo claims he "accidentally" created the style by adding 50% too much malt to his mash tun. He then "corrected" this mistake by adding 100% more hops. This metric (50% more malt, 100% more hops) is the basic guideline behind the style. However, others attribute the creation of this style to Rogue Ales, a microbrewery in Newport, Oregon, and its I2PA beer, brewed in 1990. [1]

Northern California breweries such as Lagunitas and Russian River as well as those in the San Diego area have taken to the Double IPA style (DIPA), including Stone Brewing Company, Green Flash, Oggi's Brewery, Alpine Beer Company, Alesmith, Ballast Point Brewing Company, and Port Brewing Company, etc. The style is extremely common in Oregon (primary producer of hops in North America), with DIPAs produced by most microbreweries, including Rogue Ales, Deschutes Brewery, Hair of the Dog Brewing Company, Full Sail Brewing Company, Ninkasi Brewing Company, Beer Valley Brewing Co., BridgePort Brewing Company, Laurelwood Brewery. Some DIPAs are now even made in Denmark, Belgium, and Norway.[20][21][22]

Many of the stronger Double IPAs could be alternately classified as American barleywines or Triple IPAs. As a relatively young style, it is still being determined. It is one of the fastest growing styles in the craft beer industry, and a favorite among hopheads. 100% more malt and 200% more hops is the basic guideline for a Triple IPA versus a normal IPA.

Cascadian Dark Ale

The Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA) (or "Black IPA"[23]) is a relatively new variant[24] of IPA, with a characteristically dark or black appearance, due to roasted malts, while retaining the hop aroma typical of the IPA style.[25]. Examples of this style include Hopworks Bewery Secession Black IPA, Widmer Brothers Brewery W'10, Laughing Dog Brewery Dogzilla, Cascade Brewing Dark Day, Deschutes Brewery Intergalactic Black IPA. The name refers to the Pacific Northwest Region of the United States ("Cascadia"), where the style originated.


  1. ^ Foster, Chapter 2.
  2. ^ London and Country Brewer, Anonymous, 1736, pages 38-43.
  3. ^ London and Country Brewer, Anonymous, 1736, page 73.
  4. ^ Foster p. 13 and Daniels p. 154
  5. ^ Cornell p. 97-98
  6. ^ Cornell, p. 98
  7. ^ Foster, p. 26
    Cornell, Martin. p. 102
  8. ^ The water of Burton on Trent contains a very high concentration of sulfate which accentuates the bitterness of beer. See Daniels, Foster and Cornell.
  9. ^ Daniels, p. 155
    Cornell, p. 104
  10. ^ Foster, p. 65
  11. ^ Daniels p. 157-58
    Cornell, p. 112
  12. ^ Foster p. 17-21 discusses the hopping rate; Daniels p. 154 discusses the high level of fermentation.
  13. ^ Foster, p. 21
  14. ^ Myth 4: George Hodgson invented IPA to survive the long trip to India
  15. ^ Daniels, p. 156
  16. ^ Brewing records. London Metropolitan Archives: Whitbread and Barclay Perkins. 
  17. ^ BJCP style guidelines
  18. ^ > News > Metro > Peter Rowe - Some believe bitter brew should be renamed to reflect San Diego roots
  19. ^ Lew Bryson. "Real History of Beer". Retrieved December 26 2008. 
  20. ^ "Nørrebro North Bridge Extreme". Retrieved February 23 2010. 
  21. ^ "Struise Mikkeller (Elliot Brew)". Retrieved February 23 2010. 
  22. ^ "Nøgne Ø #100". Retrieved February 23 2010. 
  23. ^ title=Oakshire Brewing To Release O'Dark:30, A Cascadian Dark Ale
  24. ^ "Cascadian Dark Festival". Retrieved March 7 2010. 
  25. ^ "Emerging Beer Style: Cascadian Dark Ale". Retrieved March 7 2010. }


  • Cornell, Martyn. Amber, Black and Gold Zythography Press: 2008.
  • Daniels, Ray. Designing Great Beer Brewers Publications: 1996.
  • Foster, Terry. Pale Ale Second Edition. Brewers Publications: 1999.


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