IPA beer: top 10 subcategories

What is an IPA? A Complete Guide to India Pale Ale

"I hate IPAs. They're too bitter ."

“I love IPAs. They have so much alcohol.

These are the two things I hear most often about IPAs, and neither of them are really true. Not all IPAs are bitter , and not all IPAs have a ton of alcohol . We cannot generalize such a vast style of beer. This is an unfair simplification. But whether you're on the side of lovers or haters, there's one thing you can't deny: IPAs are here to stay .

IPA is everywhere, but not all IPAs are the same. Discover the 10 styles of IPA before ordering your next round of beers.

The IPA Glossary

The following terms apply to all styles of beer, not just IPAs. You can find West Coast IPAs and Belgian IPAs in “Session” versions.

We can therefore have a “Double New England IPA” or even a “Session West Coast IPA”.

Session : Less alcohol! This can be positive or negative, depending on your preferences. Modern "Session" IPAs generally have an alcohol content of less than 5% (historically they were 4% and less). Less alcohol means a lighter body, making these beers perfect for repeated drinking.

Double/Imperial : More Intense IPAs. These IPAs have a higher concentration of hops. To balance this, the brewer uses more malt, which means more malt, means more sugar, which increases the alcohol content with the fermentation of the sugars ( usually above 7% ). So it’s a boosted IPA.

Dry-Hopped : For a Stronger Aroma. This technique involves adding hops during fermentation rather than during boiling. This creates a very strong aroma, amplifying the fruity/piny/sweet notes of the hops. This makes the beer more fragrant, without adding bitterness because hops are like tea leaves , if you infuse hot, it gives bitterness .

Double Dry-Hopped : A Marketing Term... Many brewers refer to their IPAs as “double dry-hopped”. Although this seems self-explanatory, the term is actually quite vague . There is no precise definition; this could mean using twice as many hops or adding a new batch of hops mid-process.

Regardless, it's often more of a marketing argument than a quantifiable term.

Triple Dry-Hopped : Even More Blurry. Seriously...No one really knows what that means.

Single-Hopped : The Uniqueness of Hops. Brewers usually combine several varieties of hops, like mixing different seasonings in a marinade, to provide various flavors. A single-hopped IPA, however, is brewed exclusively with one variety of hops . This means that for a single-hop Citra IPA, Citra hops are used during boiling, finishing, and dry-hopping.

Fresh-Hopped : Once a Year. Fresh-hopped IPAs, also called wet-hopped or harvest ales, are only available once a year, at the peak of the hop harvest season in late August and September . To qualify as fresh-hopped, the hops must leave the vine, arrive at the brewery, and be added to the boil in less than 24 hours . The closer you drink them to the brewing date, the more intense the fresh, bright taste of the hops will be.

IPA Styles

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These categories classify APIs. A "style" means that an ingredient or brewing technique (or both) gives beer a flavor, mouthfeel, or appearance that is consistently true of that style.

British IPA

IPA was invented in Britain for sailors heading to India, adding more hops as a preservative. These imbued the beer with a pronounced bitterness. British IPAs are therefore malty, bitter and one-dimensional . They are not the most popular today, but it is important to recognize them. Ideal to consume on a cliff with sea fog.

Example of British IPA Switzerland: Brasserie du Monkey

West-Cost IPA

West Coast IPA initiated the explosion of fruity hop flavors, while reducing bitterness . This style is known for its clean, crisp body, high carbonation, and strong tropical fruit notes. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and Stone Brewing Company were among the first to brew this classic style.

Big-up to the 7 Peaks brewery for its superb West-Cost IPA

New England IPA

New England IPA is all the rage right now. Unfiltered (hence its cloudy appearance) and with very low bitterness , it is often dry-hopped and tends to have lower carbonation. These beers look like orange juice, smell like fruit salad (with a hint of cannabis), and taste like a fresh fruit cobbler. This is the IPA for those who say they don't like IPAs.

East-Cost IPA

Although not officially recognized as a style in its own right, the East Coast IPA style is worth mentioning. This is a middle ground between British and West Coast IPAs, with an emphasis on resinous hop flavors and a solid malt base .

The “Ambuscade” IPA by the La Nébuleuse brewery is a very good example.

Oat IPA

Oatmeal IPAs are distinguished by their smooth, mellow texture , offering an alternative to sharper, sharper West Coast IPAs. Oat flasks or oat milk give these beers a lazy, comfortable mouthfeel.

Lactose IPA, known as “Milkshake IPA”

Milkshake IPAs, although they do not contain milk and should not be shaken, get their sweetness from added lactose sugar. Often flavored with fruit or vanilla, they drink like a fruity milkshake, with a super smooth texture but lighter in flavor and color than milk stouts.

Belgian IPA

The dominant flavor in a Belgian IPA comes from Belgian yeast, which brings sweet, warm bread notes . These beers often taste like a British IPA mixed with a Belgian triple, and get better the closer you get to a fireplace.

Fruity IPA

Adding fruit to beer is risky, but IPAs do well. Brewers intensify the fruity flavors of hops by adding fruit puree during brewing . With fruity IPAs, it's best to add fruit puree to the beer, rather than fruit juice. This creates a better flavor and shows that the brewer isn't taking shortcuts.

IPA Sour

In an ideal world, a sour IPA would be equal parts tart, juicy, and fruity, but the territory of sour IPAs is still largely uncharted. Some brewers call a dry-hopped sour beer an "IPA sour", but it is not the same thing. The body of a Sour beer is generally lighter, so adding a bold hop flavor directly to that beer doesn't always work.

Brett IPA

Brettanomyces (As you wish), a yeast also used in winemaking, added during primary fermentation, gives a funky, melon-like quality to the beer. Brett is appearing more and more in IPAs, adding an underlying musty fruit salad aroma and enhancing ripe fruit flavors. This is a good thing.