IPAs cover a spectrum of flavours with a number of sub-styles, but they mostly have three things in common: they contain more hops than pale ales; they’re more bitter than pale ales; they’re higher in alcohol than pale ales.
What makes it an IPA?
If you’ve ever been confused by the name IPA, you’re in the majority. It stands for India Pale Ale, but the style doesn’t come from India, and since there are red, brown and black varieties, they’re clearly not all pale.
IPA meant a pale ale with more hops and higher alcohol, and with more hops comes stronger flavours and more bitterness. And since they generally sit around 5.5% to 7.5% ABV, they’re not designed to drink by the 6-pack.
What should you expect?
Expect the hops to do most of the talking in an IPA. Yeast aromas and flavours are usually non-existent. And while the malts in IPAs are important for alcohol content, body (the thickness of the beer) and balance (sweetness to offset the bitterness of hops), they’re not the main star. Their job is to show off the hops.
Your first sip will most likely bring a punch of flavour. Sometimes all of those aromas you’ve been enjoying will translate into flavours you’re tasting; sometimes the taste differs from the smell, with the malts and bitterness affecting the way you perceive the hop flavours. Either way, it’s an intense experience, made all the more so by the bitterness that hits you, either right up front or sneakily at the end.
- Flavour ProfileHopsMaltTasting notesBright citrus and vibrant pinewood hop flavours are exemplified by a light and complex malt profile.