India Pale Ale

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India Pale Ale (IPA) is a hoppy beer style within the broader category of pale ale.

The first known use of the term "India pale ale" is an advertisement in the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser in 1829.[1] It was also referred to as pale ale as prepared for India, India Ale, pale India ale, or pale export India ale.[2]


The term pale ale originally denoted an ale that had been brewed from pale malt.[3] The pale ales of the early 18th century were lightly hopped and quite different from later pale ales.[4] By the mid-18th century, pale ale was mostly manufactured with coke-fired malt, which produced less smoking and roasting of barley in the malting process, and hence produced a paler beer.[5] One such variety of beer was October beer, a pale well-hopped brew popular among the landed classes, who brewed it domestically; once brewed it was intended to cellar two years.[6]

19th century poster for Phipps, an IPA brewer in Northampton.

Among the first brewers known to export beer to India was the Bow Brewery, on the Middlesex-Essex border. Bow Brewery beers became popular among East India Company traders in the late 18th century because of the brewery's location and Hodgson's liberal credit line of 18 months. Ships transported Hodgson's beers to India, among them his October beer, which benefited exceptionally from conditions of the voyage and was apparently highly regarded among its consumers in India.[7] Bow Brewery came into the control of Hodgson's sons in the early 19th century, but their business practices alienated their customers. During the same period, several Burton breweries lost their European export market in Russia because of new tariffs on beer, and were seeking a new export market for their beer.

At the behest of the East India Company, Allsopp brewery developed a strongly-hopped pale ale in the style of Hodgson's for export to India.[8] Other Burton brewers, including Bass and Salt, were anxious to replace their lost Russian export market and quickly followed Allsopp's lead. Perhaps as a result of the advantages of Burton water in brewing,[note 1] Burton India Pale Ale was preferred by merchants and their customers in India, however, Hodgson's October beer clearly influenced the Burton brewers' India pale ales.

Early IPA, such as Burton brewer's and Hodgson's, was only slightly higher in alcohol than most beer brewed in his day and would not have been considered a strong ale; however, a greater proportion of the wort was well-fermented, leaving behind few residual sugars, and the beer was strongly hopped.[9] The common story that early IPAs were much stronger than other beers of the time, however, is a myth.[10] Moreover, porter shipped to India and California[11] at the same time survived the voyage, and common claims that Hodgson formulated his beer to survive the trip and that other beers would not survive the trip are probably false.[12] It is clear that by the 1860s, India pale ales were widely brewed in England and that they were much more attenuated and highly hopped than porters and many other ales.[13]

Demand for the export style of pale ale, which had become known as India pale ale, developed in England around 1840 and India pale ale became a popular product in England.[14] Some brewers dropped the term "India" in the late 19th century, but records indicated that these "pale ales" retained the features of earlier IPAs.[15] American, Australian, and Canadian brewers manufactured beer with the label IPA before 1900, and records suggest that these beers were similar to English IPA of the era.[16]

United Kingdom[edit]

The term IPA is common in the United Kingdom for low-gravity beers, for example Greene King IPA and Charles Wells Eagle IPA. IPAs with an abv of 4% or lower have been brewed in Britain since the First World War,[17] when taxes on beer ingredients greatly increased and brewers responded by lowering the strength of their beers.

Canada and the United States[edit]

IPAs have a long history in Canada and the United States and many breweries there produce a version of the style.[18] Contemporary American IPAs are typically brewed with distinctively American hops, such as Cascade, Centennial, Citra, Columbus, Chinook, Simcoe, Amarillo, Tomahawk, Warrior, and Nugget.

East Coast IPAs are distinguished from West Coast IPAs by a stronger malt presence which balances the intensity of the hops whereas the latter foreground the hops more, possibly because of the proximity of West Coast breweries to hop fields in the Pacific Northwest. East Coast breweries rely more on spicier European hops and specialty malts than those on the West Coast.[19][20][21]

Double IPA[edit]

Double IPAs (also referred to as Imperial IPAs) are a stronger, very hoppy variant of IPAs that typically have alcohol content above 7.5% by volume.[22] The style is claimed to have originated with Vinnie Cilurzo, currently the owner of Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa CA., in 1994 at the now-defunct Blind Pig Brewery in Temecula, California.[note 2] The style has been embraced by the craft brewers of San Diego County, California, to such an extent that some refer to double IPAs as "San Diego Pale Ale".[23]

International availability[edit]

As IPA became more well known in the last few decades, it has become available around the world. American-style India Pale Ale is also now brewed in Belgium with Viven IPA from De Proefbrouwerij and Houblon Chouffe becoming available in the 2000s. It is also available in Argentina as Cervecería Antares[24]

India Pale Lager[edit]

Several breweries have developed an "India Pale Lager" (or "IPL") which tend to be vigorously hopped like an IPA but make use of a bottom-fermenting yeast. This lagering is intended to create a lighter, cleaner body to show off the subtleties of the hops.[25]


  1. ^ The water of Burton on Trent contains a very high concentration of sulfate which accentuates the bitterness of beer. See Daniels, Foster, and Cornell.
  2. ^ The double IPA, though, is not quite a native. Vinnie Cilurzo is credited with creating the style in 1994, when he was running Blind Pig Brewery in Temecula. Blind Pig IPA set the bar high and bitter – the recipe called for four varieties of malts, but the intensely aromatic and bitter hops were the star.


  1. ^ Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, August 29, 1829 Zythophile, The earliest use of the term India pale ale was … in Australia?
  2. ^ North, Andrew (2012-08-25). "The return of the Indian Pale Ale". BBC News. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  3. ^ London and Country Brewer, Anonymous, 1736, pages 38–43.
  4. ^ London and Country Brewer, Anonymous, 1736, page 73.
  5. ^ Foster p. 13 and Daniels p. 154
  6. ^ Cornell pp. 97–98
  7. ^ Cornell, p. 98
  8. ^ Foster, p. 26
    Cornell, Martyn. p. 102
  9. ^ Foster p. 17-21 discusses the hopping rate; Daniels p. 154 discusses the high level of fermentation.
  10. ^ Foster, p. 21
  11. ^ "IN THE ROOM THE STORY OF ANCHOR IPA™". Anchor Brewing Blog. Anchor Brewing Company. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  12. ^ Zythophile: IPA myth 4
  13. ^ Daniels, p. 156
  14. ^ Daniels, p. 155
    Cornell, p. 104
  15. ^ Foster, p. 65
  16. ^ Daniels p. 157-58
    Cornell, p. 112
  17. ^ "Brewing records". London Metropolitan Archives: Whitbread and Barclay Perkins. 
  18. ^ Jackson, 210.
  19. ^ Henry, Jason (13 September 2012). "Beer of the Week: New Belgium/Alpine Super India Pale Ale". SF Weekly (blog). Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  20. ^ Kitsock, Greg (20 June 2007). "A Bitter Divide". The Washington Post. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  21. ^ Juskewitch, Ezra (10 September 2012). "The Hop Report: Summer brews great alternative to fall ales". The Maine Campus. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  22. ^ "American Double IPA" Beer Advocate. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  23. ^ Rowe, Peter (March 8, 2006). "Some believe bitter brew should be renamed to reflect San Diego roots". Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  24. ^ "Cerveza IPA" Cervecería Antares, . Retrieved 13 October 2014.
  25. ^ Kitsock, Greg (10 September 2013). "India pale lagers, craft beer's category straddlers". The Washington Post. Retrieved 13 November 2013. 


Further reading[edit]