What are the differences in IPAs?

Answered by Charles Pate

When it comes to IPAs, there are several key differences to consider. One of the most notable variations is between American IPAs and English IPAs. The American style tends to have a lighter body and a more pronounced hoppy flavor compared to its English counterpart.

In terms of body, American IPAs generally have a lighter and less malty profile. This means that they often have a drier and crisper mouthfeel, with less emphasis on the bready, caramel, and toasty flavors commonly found in English IPAs. Instead, American IPAs tend to showcase the more prominently, allowing for a greater range of hop flavors and aromas to shine through.

Speaking of hops, American IPAs typically feature a more aggressive and diverse hop profile. American brewers have embraced the use of American and New World hops, which tend to be more citrusy, piney, and resinous compared to the more traditional English hop varieties. These hops can impart flavors and aromas such as grapefruit, tropical fruits, and floral notes, creating a more vibrant and intense hop character in American IPAs.

Another difference lies in the used. While English IPAs often feature yeast-derived esters that contribute fruity and floral notes, American IPAs tend to use yeasts that produce fewer of these esters. This results in a cleaner and more neutral yeast profile, allowing the hop flavors and aromas to take center stage.

Personal Experience: I first discovered the differences between American and English IPAs when I visited a craft brewery in the United States. I had previously been more familiar with English IPAs, which I enjoyed for their balanced and hop character. However, when I tried an American , I was struck by the burst of hop flavors and the lighter body. It was a revelation to experience the vibrant hoppy bitterness and the array of citrus and tropical fruit notes that were absent in the English IPAs I had tried before.

To summarize, American IPAs differ from English IPAs in several ways. They have a lighter body, a more pronounced hop profile due to the use of American and New World hops, and a cleaner yeast profile with fewer esters. These differences result in a distinctively hop-forward and refreshing that has become a hallmark of the American scene.