What’s An IPA?

Have you ever been to a bar and spoken to someone who says they prefer drinking an IPA to a beer? We have seen and heard it all when it comes to alcohol and IPA has quickly grown in popularity over the last decade or so.

There may be some clear reasons why people prefer to opt for an IPA, and we’ll look at that in this guide – but before we go there, what exactly is an IPA?

What’s An IPA

We’re going to examine all these burning questions for you. So, get comfortable and pour a cold one!

IPA: The Basics

IPA stands for India Pale Ale. Despite its name, it was actually invented in Britain by sailors who would travel over to India via ship, which could take a long time.

To keep their alcohol from going bad, they would pack the barrels with hops – which is a preservative.

These hops being left in the barrel for the amount of time that they were made the beer lose its fruitiness, which left a much more bitter taste to it, so if you’re drinking a British IPA, expect a bitter finish!

There are plenty of different IPAs out there though and depending on where they came from, the taste can differ from its fruitiness and its flavor. The way it’s made is known as a style, and this is an example of the British style.

Notable British IPA’s include the Great Lakes, Yards and Samuel Smith Brewery Companies.

Throughout the years, IPA became a social drink and gained a following of drink enthusiasts in the same way you would see whiskey, wine or ale fans. These groups travel around, try to test different IPA’s and note down their flavor, aroma and overall aesthetics.

IPA is typically stronger than a lager, but not always. It’s not a drink for someone that wants to sink a drink one after the other – it’s more of a calm practice.

Styles Of IPA

So, we’ve seen the British style – but what about the others?

West Coast IPA

West Coast IPA was the origins of the classic IPA fruity flavor. When most people who have enjoyed an IPA describe the taste, the words fruity and sweet are normally used.

Its style removes all the bitterness to the usual IPA flavoring and increases the carbonation which brings about much more of a sweetness to it.

Notable brewers of West Coast IPA are Stone and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.

East Coast IPA

East Coast is debated whether it is a real style of IPA, but nonetheless it is a unique IPA. It treads the lines between the flavors of West Coast and British IPA and strongly hones in on a more piney or nature aroma and taste.

Notable brewers of this IPA are Dogfish and Carton Brewing Company.

New England IPA

This is probably the most popular type of IPA these days. It has a strong and overpowering fruity taste and aroma to it and completely shuns its bitterness.

Because it is unfiltered, the finish and appearance of it are hazy so in many ways this drink looks like an orange juice.

What’s An IPA

If you know someone who says they despise IPA’s or have someone who has never tried an IPA before – consider getting them to try one of these. They may change their mind!

Notable brewers of this IPA are Civil Society and Hill Farmstead Brewing Company.


A unique style of IPA, the best way to describe this is comfortable or soft. You feel relaxed with the calming softness of this IPA due to the usage of oat flakes.

This wouldn’t be the best choice for those who are not used to an IPA, and certainly not for those with allergies – but the comforts of home are found with this drink!

Notable brewers of this IPA are Cerebral and Monkish Brewing Company.

Belgian IPA

If there is an IPA closest to British IPA, it will certainly be Belgian IPA. The main difference is the use of Belgian yeast which gives it its uniqueness. It’s a warming IPA which is best enjoyed on a cold, winter’s night in front of a roaring fire!

Notable brewers of this IPA are New Belgian and Central State Brewing Company.

Milkshake/Cream IPA

This is more like a sweeter version of a stout. Milk and sugar which are used in this IPA give it a very dessert or milkshake type of feel to it.

Sometimes, people will add vanilla or types of fruit to the IPA to enhance the flavors further, but it’s not always done.

Notable brewers of this IPA are Other Half and Tired Hands Brewing Company.

Brett IPA

This “Brett” strain of yeast is used to IPA as you might see in makers of wine. During the fermentation, the IPA gains a fruity and strong melon taste to it.

This type of IPA is cropping up more and more in bars across America and some people are apprehensive over it, but trust us when we say that it will gain fame as one of the best IPA’s on the market today.

Notable brewers of this IPA are Anchorage and Homage Brewing Company.

Is An IPA For Me?

Everything is down to personal taste. We would argue that anybody who enjoys an alcoholic drink, particularly a beer, should try an IPA and different styles of IPA.

Much like other drinks, what works for you might not work for someone else – but you can’t allow one IPA to determine your overall perception of IPA’s as a whole.

If you have allergies, it’s a good idea to check the label before you consume the IPA – in case of things like oats, which might have been added.

Bottom Line

IPA is growing in popularity and there’s plenty of reason for that. If you’re considering trying an IPA, go ahead and do it!

Robert Kaser
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