Is IPA an ale or lager?

Answered by Bill Hernandez

As an expert sommelier and brewer, I can confidently say that (India Pale ) is classified as an ale rather than a . Ales and lagers are the two main categories of , and they differ in terms of used and fermentation process.

Ales are brewed with top-fermenting yeast strains that ferment at warmer temperatures, typically between 15-24°C (59-75°F). This warm fermentation process results in a faster fermentation and a quicker turnaround time for the beer. IPAs fall under the ale category as they are brewed using top-fermenting yeast.

On the other hand, lagers are brewed with bottom-fermenting yeast strains that ferment at colder temperatures, usually between 7-13°C (45-55°F). The cold fermentation process of lagers takes longer, typically several weeks or even months, which leads to a clean and crisp flavor profile.

Now, let's delve deeper into the characteristics of IPAs. IPAs are known for their bold and hop-forward flavors, which set them apart from other beer styles. The term “pale ale” refers to a style of beer that is made from pale , resulting in a lighter color compared to darker beer styles like stouts or porters.

IPAs, however, take the pale ale style to the next level by incorporating a higher amount of during the process. Hops are flowers that add bitterness, aroma, and flavor to the beer. By increasing the hop content, IPAs have a stronger and more pronounced hop character, often showcasing citrus, pine, or floral notes.

It's important to note that there is no strict threshold at which a pale ale becomes an IPA. The distinction between the two styles is subjective and depends on the brewer's interpretation and recipe. Some IPAs may have a more moderate hop presence, while others can be extremely hoppy and .

Personally, I've had the pleasure of tasting a wide variety of IPAs throughout my career. From session IPAs with lower content to double IPAs with intense hop profiles, each IPA brings its unique character to the table. The hop-forward nature of IPAs makes them a favorite among craft beer enthusiasts who appreciate the bold flavors and aromatic qualities.

IPA is an ale, not a lager. It falls under the ale category due to the use of top-fermenting yeast during the brewing process. IPAs are known for their strong hop presence and bold flavors, distinguishing them from other beer styles. The distinction between pale ales and IPAs is subjective and varies depending on the brewer's recipe and interpretation. So, the next time you're craving a beer with a hoppy kick, reach for an IPA and savor its unique characteristics.