Everything you need to know about the popular beer style.
THE HISTORY AND DEFINITION OF IPA BEER
India Pale Ale, commonly known as IPA, is a popular beer style known for its hoppy flavor and aroma. The beer style originated in England in the 18th century, where it was brewed for export to British colonies in India. The long journey to India made it difficult for beer to arrive fresh, so brewers added extra hops to preserve it. This led to the development of the IPA style, which was stronger and more bitter than traditional English ales.
WHAT MAKES AN IPA TASTE DIFFERENT THAN OTHER BEER TYPES
An IPA is characterized by its high hop content. Hops give the beer a distinct bitterness and citrusy, floral aroma. The hops used in IPA brewing also contribute to its distinct flavor notes. These notes include pine, grapefruit, and herbal undertones. The malt used in brewing provides a balance to the bitterness. Malt adds a toasty, caramel sweetness to the beer.
Unlike traditional English ales, which are known for their maltiness and low hop content, IPAs tend to have a higher alcohol content and are brewed with a generous amount of hops. This results in a beer that is bold, complex, and full of flavor.
TYPICAL FLAVOR NOTES FOR INDIA PALE ALE
The flavor profile of IPA can vary depending on the type of hops used and the brewing process. However, some common flavor notes include:
Citrusy: Many IPAs have a strong grapefruit or orange flavor that comes from the hops used in brewing. This gives the beer a bright, refreshing taste.
Piney: Some hops used in IPA brewing have a resinous, piney flavor that adds a slightly bitter, earthy taste to the beer.
Floral: Some IPAs have a floral aroma and flavor that comes from the hops used. This gives the beer a sweet, aromatic taste.
Bitter: IPA is known for its bitter taste, which comes from the high hop content. The bitterness can vary depending on the type of hops used and the brewing process.
Sweet: The malt used in IPA brewing provides a balance to the bitterness and adds a toasty, caramel sweetness to the beer.
MODERN TRENDS IN IPA BEER
Over the years, the IPA style has evolved, and many new variations have emerged. Some popular modern trends include:
New England IPA (NEIPA): NEIPA is a hazy, juicy IPA that is brewed with a combination of hops and yeast that create a fruity, tropical flavor.
West Coast IPA: West Coast IPA is a clear, hoppy beer that is known for its intense bitterness and piney flavor.
Session IPA: Session IPA is a low-alcohol IPA that is brewed to be enjoyed in larger quantities. It has a lighter body and less bitterness than traditional IPAs.
Sour IPA: Sour IPA is a newer style that combines the hoppy bitterness of IPA with the tartness of sour beer. It is often brewed with fruit to add a fruity flavor.
In summary, India Pale Ale is a beer style with a rich history and complex flavor profile. Its high hop content and unique brewing process give it a distinct bitterness and aroma that sets it apart from other beer types. Whether you prefer a classic IPA or a modern variation, there is an IPA out there to suit every taste. We encourage you to visit Ballad Brewing’s taproom in Danville, VA to compare our rotating selection of IPAs and see for yourself why this style is so popular.