Nowadays it is getting increasingly hard to find just an IPA without a word or two before ‘IPA’ on the label. A style of a style if you will. Confusing, yes. But, I got your back! This isn’t necessarily meant to be an actual style guide per se, but more of guide to help you understand and decode those qualifier words.
First English IPAs. These are the first. The original. The real deal! English IPAs were basically Pale Ales that were hopped up, a bit maltier, and a bit bigger on the ABV percentage. Again, made so that they would survive the long voyage to the British troops in India.
Did you know ‘India’ Pale Ales aren’t even from INDIA?! Uhhhh… What?!?! Yep, they were actually made for British Soldiers. The astringent nature of the extra hops made it possible for the beer to survive travel to faraway places… Like India!
Next up, American IPAs! USA! USA! USA! American IPAs are a bit more robust in the ol’ flavor area than an English IPA. Typically more hopped up and usually with hops from this side of the pond. Now, this is where things get interesting! Much like the rappers of the rap battles of the 90s, American IPAs are often either West Coast or East Coast.
West Coast IPAs are the hoptastic flavor blasts that are pretty popular. Hopped usually with exclusively west coast hops, these beers don’t try to hide the floral citrusy hoppiness. Balance? Screw balance!
East Coast IPAs on the other hand tries to save your palate a bit from the hop overload. East Coast IPAs are still hoppy, but they tend to be balanced out better with a bit more of a malt profile. East Coast IPAs are basically West Coast IPAs’ more conservative brother.
For the last one, let’s hop back over to the other side of the pond; Belgian IPAs. Belgian IPAs are IPAs that have been made using Belgian yeast strains. Think of crossing a Belgian beer with an American IPA. You get the hoppiness of an IPA and you get the flavors from the Belgian yeast like you would in a dubbel or tripel. To me, this one is the most complex of the IPAs.
There we go! IPAs are not just IPAs anymore. Next time you want to pound a couple of these hoppy tasty beers you will be able to better decide what style of this… ummm… style you wish to get in your beer hole!