How is an IPA different from beer?

Answered by James Porterfield

As a enthusiast and brewer, I'm thrilled to explain the nuances between an (India Pale ) and regular beer. Let's dive into the world of beer styles and explore the characteristics that set IPAs apart.

1. : The key distinction between an IPA and regular beer lies in the hops. Hops are flowers used in that contribute bitterness, aroma, and flavor to the beer. IPAs typically have a higher hop content compared to regular beers, resulting in a more pronounced and taste. The additional hops give IPAs a robust and distinctive flavor profile.

2. Bitterness: The bitterness in beer is measured using the International Bitterness Unit (IBU) scale. IPAs generally have a higher IBU rating than regular beers, indicating a more bitter taste. This bitterness is achieved by adding hops during different stages of the brewing process, such as during boiling or fermentation. The bitterness of an IPA can range from mildly bitter to intensely hoppy, depending on the specific style.

3. Flavor and Aroma: The increased hop content in IPAs contributes to a wide range of flavors and aromas. IPAs often exhibit citrus, floral, piney, or resinous notes due to the different hop varieties used. These flavors and aromas create a complex and enjoyable drinking experience. Regular beers, on the other hand, tend to have a more balanced flavor profile with less emphasis on hop character.

4. Content: IPAs generally have a higher alcohol content compared to regular beers. While regular beers usually range between 4-6% ABV (alcohol by volume), IPAs can vary from 5-7% ABV or even higher for double IPAs. The higher alcohol content in IPAs adds to their overall intensity and can provide a warming sensation.

5. Color: In terms of appearance, IPAs can vary in color from pale golden to amber. However, it's important to note that color alone does not define an IPA. Regular beers, including pale ales, can also have a similar color range. The focus should primarily be on the hop content and bitterness levels to differentiate an IPA from a regular beer.

6. Substyles: It's worth mentioning that IPAs encompass a wide range of substyles, each with its own unique characteristics. Some popular IPA substyles include West Coast IPA, New England IPA (NEIPA), Black IPA, Belgian IPA, and Session IPA. These substyles further showcase the diversity within the IPA category, catering to different preferences and taste profiles.

The key differences between an IPA and regular beer lie in the enhanced hop content, higher bitterness, varied flavors and aromas, increased alcohol content, and the wide range of IPA substyles available. Exploring different IPAs can be an exciting journey for beer enthusiasts, allowing them to appreciate the complexities and nuances that set IPAs apart from regular beers.