India Pale Ale

Guide to India Pale Ale

India pale ales are famous examples of notoriously big and boozy beers with the intense flavours, aromas, and bitterness of hops being at the forefront of the style.

Chances are that you will find at least one example of IPA being sold at your local bar, bottle shop or restaurant as the style has exploded in popularity courtesy of its strong flavour profile and generous character.

India Pale Ale Characteristics

When looking to define these beers, it is safe to assume that almost any serving of IPA you consume will be medium to full bodied in nature, very intense in both its hoppy bitterness and hoppy fruit flavours, low to only moderate in its malt profile, moderate to high in its alcohol content, and finally, gold, copper, or amber in its colour and sometimes slightly hazy in its appearance.

Whilst many different sub-styles of IPA do exist, it is easiest to define them as falling within one of the following:

  • Standard India Pale Ale
  • Imperial or Double India Pale Ale
  • Extra Pale Ale

To explore further into this style of beer, consider this useful article.

India Pale Ale

India Pale Ale

Although originating on English ships as they set sail for colonies in the far east, India pale ales are now brewed right across the world.

They are renowned for differing to quite a degree depending upon where they're brewed as the ingredients, most notably the hop strains used, varies across different regions, significantly affecting the flavour profile of the resulting beer.

That being said, most examples of IPAs today are famous for ranging in colour from gold or copper to amber or brown, and possessing higher levels of alcohol, well above 5% or even 6%.

On top of this, they are beers with a highly pronounced hop profile that often exudes an intense hoppy bitterness alongside hoppy fruit character, and only a slight to moderate malt profile.

As the flavours present in these beers are so dependent upon the particular hop strains used, the specific flavours found can vary between citrus, fresh pine, resiny flavors, spices, or tropical and stone fruits.

Combine all of these characteristics in a typically medium to full bodied beer and you have a brew that is perfect when paired with heavily salted or fried foods, hearty meat dishes, such as deep-fried meats or sausages, and finally, juicy burgers with a hotly or sweetly spiced sauce, such as barbecue sauce.

Imperial or Double India Pale Ale

These beers are considered beefier versions of the standard India pale ale as imperial or double India pale ales are some of the most intensely hopped styles of beer available.

As the name suggests, these beers often use double or sometimes even triple the amount of hops used in regular IPAs, resulting in beers with an extremely pronounced hop profile that is high to very high in its levels of both hoppy bitterness and hoppy fruit flavours.

The specific hoppy fruit flavours in these beers varies between citrus, spices, tropical fruits, stone fruits, fresh pine, or resiny flavours depending upon the particular strain of hops used, however, to balance out the intensity of these flavours, most of these beers also contain an elevated malt profile, producing beers with a higher alcohol content and flavours of caramel, biscuit, and bread.

These traits, alongside its typically full-bodied nature, means IIPAs are sublimely matched with rich meat dishes, including grilled lamb, smoked brisket, or any kind of generously glazed barbecued meat dish.

Imperial India Pale Ale Characteristics

Extra Pale Ale

Extra Pale Ale Characteristics

Extra pale ales have recently stormed onto the craft brewing scene, marking their territory somewhere between a rich IPA and gentler pale ale in terms of overall flavour profile.

Many enthusiasts of this style often refer to these beers as session IPAs due to their moderate levels of alcohol combined within a beer with a typically strong hop profile of pronounced hoppy bitterness and hoppy fruit flavours.

These beers are mostly medium-bodied in their nature, with a light to moderate malt profile serving to balance delicate and light flavours of toast or bread against highly pronounced hoppy fruit flavours of citrus, fresh pine, and tropical fruits.

Most examples of XPAs will present as pale golden to amber in their appearance and when looking to pair food with these beers, it is easiest to match them with many kinds of grilled or barbecued meat dishes, apple-based desserts, or finally, juicy beef burgers.

There's an India pale ale out there for everyone. Here are some of the brands and bottles that we recommend you look out for the next time you're browsing online or in-store.

Balter Brewing Co IPA Tasting Notes
A full-bodied & hoppy bitter style of ale with lots of piney hops flavour, this is perfect for those who want a typical example of IPA.

Balter Brewing Co


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