India Pale Ale (IPA): Styles, History and Flavors

Complete Guide to IPA Beer: Styles, History and Flavors

An IPA (India Pale Ale) , is a style of beer characterized by a strong presence of hops , which generally gives it a pronounced bitterness and varied aromas such as notes of citrus, tropical fruit or resin . Originally brewed in England with a high level of hops to better preserve during long journeys to India , the IPA is today popular throughout the world, with many variations such as the American IPA, the NEIPA (New England IPA) or the Double IPA.

Key Points to Remember

  • India Pale Ale , a beer with a strong character and a special place in the hearts of craft beer lovers.
  • The bitterness and aromatic nuances that distinguish IPA from other types of beer.
  • A historical richness dating back to the 18th century and a constant evolution of IPA beer.
  • IPA beer as a playground for experimentation and the discovery of new hop flavors.
  • There are many styles of IPA, from American IPA to Session IPA.


The rise of IPA beers and their worldwide popularity

From the 18th century, IPA beer , or India Pale Ale , left its mark on minds and palates with its robust hop content and strong character, developed specifically to endure long sea crossings to India.

Our exploration of the brewing world begins with this historic beverage, which has survived the centuries and adapted to contemporary tastes, becoming a pillar of the craft beer revolution.

The British origins of India Pale Ale

Known for its aromatic richness and characteristic bitterness, IPA beer has its roots in British tradition. Built to withstand long journeys, it quickly became a symbol of English tenacity and innovation in brewing . Thus, the term India Pale Ale represents more than just a designation; it tells a story of endurance and discovery driven by centuries of commerce and adventure.

The craft beer revolution and the impact on IPA

With the emergence of the craft beer movement, which highlights quality craft beer , IPAs have experienced a spectacular renaissance. Microbreweries around the world have embraced the IPA style, adapting and reinventing it, giving rise to an extraordinary variety of flavors, aromas and characteristics unique to each terroir. This renaissance has propelled the IPA to the international stage, making it a favorite among specialty ales.

IPAs today: A trend that defies time

Interest in IPA beer continues to grow, transcending borders and generations, and highlighting this ale style's capacity to reinvent itself. From the traditional India Pale Ale to more modern and daring interpretations, IPAs never go out of fashion, becoming the symbol of a dynamic, innovative brewing culture deeply rooted in the taste of contemporary consumers.

Characteristic 18th century Craft Beer Revolution Today
Hops Content High Experimental Personalized
Alcohol Content Strong Diversified Adapted
Styles Unique Enlargement Multitude
Popularity Limited region Rise to power Popular worldwide

Understanding the Different Styles of IPA Beer

Let's dive into the wealth of styles that punctuate the landscape of IPA beers , and which offer a diversity as fascinating as it is incomparable. Each type of India Pale Ale contains a unique identity, a distinct heritage and approach to hops, this jewel in the brewing crown.

American IPAs: Innovation and audacity

If audacity had a signature, it would be called American IPA . These beers, symbols of American brewing innovation, reveal a pronounced hoppy taste that leaves no one indifferent. Their artisans, playing with varieties of hops such as Mosaic and Simco, produce nectars with exuberant aromas, ranging from citrus to tropical fruits, with a sharp and thirst-quenching bitterness. The American IPA is an invitation to discovery, to experimentation and above all to the unrestrained tasting of taste freedom.

English IPAs: Tradition and finesse

Where the English IPAs almost trample on history with their refined notes. Balance is the key word of these IPA beers which, faithful to their British heritage, offer a hoppy subtlety mixed with floral and herbaceous notes. English IPAs embody tradition by combining finesse and moderate bitterness in a body that is often more malty, evoking centuries-old pubs and English mists.

Double IPAs: Intensity and character

For flavor adventurers, the Double IPA displays its richness in intensity and character. With a significantly high level of alcohol and hops, this expression of IPA beer is synonymous with extreme voluptuousness. Double IPAs are the very embodiment of a ceaseless quest for taste exploration, a journey where the senses are pushed to the extreme, in a ballet of enveloping aromas and resinous or fruity touches.

We now understand better why IPA beer , whether American , English or Double , continues to seduce and captivate. Each style of India Pale Ale invites enthusiasts on an escape through authentic, multiple flavors deeply rooted in various brewing cultures.

IPA beer can

The key ingredients of IPA beer

The global reputation of IPA beer is undeniably linked to its favorite ingredients: hops and malt . These carefully chosen components define the character and soul of any India Pale Ale worthy of the name. Let’s take a look at their essential role and their contribution to the taste spectrum of this unique beer.

The crucial role of hops

It's no secret to any IPA beer lover: hops are the star of the recipe. Beyond its contribution of bitterness, necessary to counterbalance the sweetness of the malt , it is also what weaves the rich bouquet of aromas. Whether it's Mosaic hops, with its notes of tropical fruits and berries, or Simcoe, reminiscent of pine and citrus, each variety adds its own dimension to the sensory experience offered by an IPA.

Malts: Foundations of the IPA taste profile

While hops frequently grab the spotlight, malt provides the foundation upon which each sensory nuance of the IPA rests. The latter is not only an anonymous contributor to the structure of the beer, it also colors the liquid with shades ranging from golden to deep caramel. The malts selected for India Pale Ale offer a spectrum of flavors that can be sweet, biscuity, or even display a hint of roasting. It is this malted base which harmonizes and amplifies the qualities of the hops, allowing the IPA beer to reveal all its complexity.

The IPA Brewing Process

For us, craft beer lovers, brewing an India Pale Ale is almost an art. The particular techniques used throughout the production of IPA beer give it unique characteristics. Do you know the crucial role hops play at various points in brewing ? This is what makes it possible to obtain this complex aroma, so prized by fans of the genre.

Let's talk about dry hopping, also known as dry hopping. This method where hops are added at the end of fermentation, or even after, maximizes the aromas without excessively increasing the bitterness. Thus, each sip of an IPA reveals a range of hoppy aromas, from resinous pine to citrus notes and exotic floral touches.

Let's also think about the fermentation of IPAs . Often carried out at higher temperatures, fermentation allows the yeasts to give free rein to their production of esters, these aromatic compounds which add subtle fruity or floral accents to India Pale Ales, complementing the characteristic bitterness.

Brewing stage Hop intake Influence on IPA
Mashing and boiling Varied use for bitterness Foundation of bitterness and base of flavors
Fermentation Weak to none Leaves room for the development of esters
Dry hopping Important, no cooking Maximizes aromas, without increasing bitterness

Thanks to these brewing methods, IPA beer continues to renew its leading image within the world of craft beers . Our palates are witnesses to this: each brewing offers a unique exploration of flavors, confirming the place of the IPA at the pinnacle of brewing creativity.

Swiss beer tasting

Tasting an IPA: Techniques and advice

When we talk about tasting , it's about much more than just drinking an IPA beer . It's about experience, the ability to identify and appreciate the subtleties that make each India Pale Ale unique. Here's how to turn tasting your favorite IPA into an unforgettable moment.

Enjoy the aroma and bouquet of an IPA

The aroma of an IPA, rich in hops , is undoubtedly the initial invitation to tasting. Olfaction precedes taste, preparing our palate for what will follow. Here's how to do it:

  • Serve the beer in a specific glass that promotes the concentration of aromas, such as a stemmed glass or a tulip glass.
  • Pour delicately to observe the formation of the foam then appreciate the color, which ranges from light golden to dark caramel depending on the variety.
  • Shake the glass lightly to release the aromas and bring it to your nose for a series of short and long inhalations.
  • Identify the different notes: floral, fruity, resinous or herbaceous. Each hop gives a particular bouquet.

Temperature and Service: Best Practices

The ideal temperature for enjoying an IPA beer greatly influences the appreciation of flavors. Forget IPAs that are too cold because they mask the richness of the taste. Consider the following tips:

  1. Serve your IPA at a temperature slightly higher than that of the refrigerator, between 8°C and 12°C.
  2. If the beer is too cold, hold the glass with your hands to gently warm it to reveal the full flavor profile.
  3. The first sip is the time to pay attention to the bitterness, which should be harmonious with the other flavors, and not overwhelming.
  4. Sip slowly, letting the beer cover the entire surface of your tongue. This will allow all the nuances to be expressed.

By immersing ourselves in the act of tasting , each sip of IPA becomes an exploration of the senses, a story told by the hops and shaped by the know-how of the brewers. Tasting an India Pale Ale is a taste journey, where every nuance counts and enriches the experience.

Food and beer pairing

Pairing IPA beers with gastronomy

When it comes to fine dining , few beers offer such diversity for food and beer pairings as the famous IPA . This India Pale Ale , known for its strong character and pronounced aromatic profile, has established itself as an essential asset in the world of gastronomy . These beers pair wonderfully with a wide range of flavors and can transform an ordinary meal into a memorable dining experience. We will explore how the unique characteristics of IPA beer can complement and even enhance different dishes of global cuisine .

IPA and cuisine: Surprising marriages

It is no longer rare to see craft beer , particularly IPA , inviting itself to the gourmet table. Surprising marriages emerge between the complexity of this India Pale Ale and a multitude of recipes. Whether with traditional dishes or more avant-garde creations, the IPA knows how to reveal its multiple facets to harmonize with the cuisine .

Advice for pairing with dishes and recipes

Our culinary pairing tips highlight the versatility of IPA beers :

  • For thrill-seekers, pair a hoppy IPA with spicy dishes such as Indian or Thai cuisine . The bitterness of the IPA beer balances the heat of the spices.
  • A good fish and chips or shrimp fritters? An IPA with a hint of citrus brings a freshness that contrasts pleasantly with the fat of fried foods.
  • And what do you think of pairing an India Pale Ale with a dark chocolate dessert? The resinous and sometimes roasted notes of certain IPAs combine surprisingly well with the intensity of cocoa.
  • Finally, for a bold pairing, dare a fruity IPA with blue cheese. The aromatic intensity of the beer confronted with the power of the cheese creates a sublime balance.

These combinations are starting points for enriching culinary experiences. Don’t hesitate to experiment and find the perfect balance that will delight your taste buds. IPA beer , emblem of craft beer , is a precious ally of gastronomy , capable of enhancing both the simplicity of everyday dishes and the sophistication of high-end creations.

TOP 3 of the best Swiss IPAs

  • The Double Oat (Double IPA New England style) from the La Nébuleuse brewery in Renens (Vaud)
  • La Pornstar (IPA) from the Hoppy People brewery in Sierre (Valais).
  • La Faya (Session IPA) from the Château brewery in Lausanne (Vaud).


Through this article, we have undertaken a sensory and historical journey to discover IPA , this India pale ale emblematic of the craft beer movement. It is a beer that has been able to reinvent itself and endure over the long term, offering an infinite variety of flavors to an increasingly broad and demanding audience. IPA beer has established itself as a centerpiece in the brewing industry, delighting hop lovers with its rich palette of tastes. Together we discovered how each drop of an IPA contains a piece of history and a touch of creative daring.

Recap of the rise of IPA beer

IPA has come a long way since its beginnings, solidifying its presence in the hearts of IPA beer connoisseurs. We've seen it evolve over the centuries, from a British logistical necessity to a global phenomenon. India pale ale has its roots in a fascinating historical context to ultimately embody the spirit of innovation and diversity in the world of craft beer . Its ability to adapt to varied tastes makes it truly unique and constantly sought after by enthusiasts around the world.

The Future of IPAs: Predictions and Emerging Trends

Looking to the future, trends indicate that IPAs will continue to surprise palates across the globe. The craze for hops continues to spark the creativity of brewers who, we imagine, will introduce new varieties of hops and innovative brewing techniques to delight our senses. The popularity of India Pale Ale shows no signs of waning and we can't wait to see how it continues to shape the craft beer landscape. In our endless quest for flavors, the IPA will, without a doubt, be a companion of choice for years to come.


Q: What exactly is an IPA beer?

A: IPA stands for “India Pale Ale”. It is a style of ale beer that is known for its high hop content and more bitter taste compared to other ales. IPAs can feature a range of flavors and aromas from different types of hops, such as Mosaic or Simco. They are popular in craft beer culture for their diversity and bold taste.

Q: How did IPAs become so popular around the world?

A: IPA has British origins but saw a resurgence in popularity with the craft beer movement in the United States. Their diversity of styles and the intensity of their flavors have allowed them to captivate a wide audience ranging from connoisseurs to new beer lovers, thus contributing to their worldwide reputation.

Q: What is the difference between an American IPA and an English IPA?

A: American IPA is generally hoppier with a more bitter taste and pronounced hop aromas, often through the use of American hops like Mosaic and Simco. English IPA tends to be more balanced and subtle, with an emphasis on traditional British hops and a more moderate bitterness.

Q: Why are hops so important in making IPAs?

A: Hops are crucial in the production of IPAs because it is this ingredient that gives beer its characteristic bitterness as well as a wide range of aromas and scents such as floral, fruity and resinous notes. This is what largely defines the taste profile of an IPA.

Q: What brewing techniques are specific to IPAs?

A: Particular brewing techniques for IPAs include adding hops at various stages, including dry hopping, which increases the aroma without adding additional bitterness. Fermentation at higher temperatures is also common to develop the esters contributing to the fruity or floral notes of the beer.

Q: How should you taste an IPA to appreciate all its aromas?

A: For optimal tasting of an IPA, you should pay attention to the aroma and bouquet. Using the right glass can help capture the full aromatic complexity of the beer. As for the serving temperature, a slight elevation above that of the refrigerator is recommended to reveal the richness of the flavors.

Q: What types of dishes pair well with IPAs?

A: IPAs pair particularly well with spicy foods, strong cheeses like blue, and even chocolate desserts, because of their rich taste profile and bitterness. Everyone can experiment with pairings to find the perfect combination that will enhance both the beer and the dish.

Q: What are some Swiss IPAs that you recommend?

A: Fans of Swiss craft beers should try IPAs from well-known breweries such as Simmentaler Bier and Amor Fati . These breweries produce quality beers, with unique interpretations of the IPA style, using local brewing knowledge and skills.