India pale ale

India pale ale (IPA) is a hoppy beer style within the broader category of pale ale.[1][2]

India Pale Ale
India Pale Ale from Fuller's Brewery in Chiswick, West London
Country of originEngland
Alcohol by volume4.5% - 17.2%
Color (SRM)6 - 14
Bitterness (IBU)40 - 120
Original Gravity1.050 - 1.075
Final Gravity1.010 - 1.018

The export style of pale ale, which had become known as India pale ale, developed in England around 1840, later became a popular product there.[3][4] It became popular among East India Company traders in the late 18th century because of the brewery's location near the East India Docks in Blackwall, East London.

IPAs have a long history in Canada and the United States, and many breweries there produce a version of the style.[5]


The pale ales of the early 18th century were lightly hopped and quite different from today's pale ales.[6] By the mid-18th century, pale ale was mostly brewed with coke-fired malt, which produced less smoking and roasting of barley in the malting process, and hence produced a paler beer.[7][8] One such variety of beer was October beer, a pale well-hopped brew popular among the landed gentry, who brewed it domestically; once brewed it was intended to cellar two years.[9]

Among the first brewers known to export beer to India was George Hodgson's[10] 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 near the East India Docks[lower-alpha 1] 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.[12] Bow Brewery came into the control of Hodgson's son in the early 19th century,[lower-alpha 2] but his business practices alienated their customers. During the same period, several Burton breweries lost their European export market in Russia when the Tsar banned the trade, and were seeking a new export market for their beer.[11]

At the behest of the East India Company, Allsopp's brewery developed a strongly-hopped pale ale in the style of Hodgson's for export to India.[13][14] Other Burton brewers, including Bass and Salt, were eager 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,[lower-alpha 3] Burton India pale ale was preferred by merchants and their customers in India, but Hodgson's October beer clearly influenced the Burton brewers' India pale ales.

Brewer Charrington's trial shipments of hogsheads of "India Ale" to Madras and Calcutta in 1827 proved successful and a regular trade emerged with the key British agents and retailers: Griffiths & Co in Madras; Adam, Skinner and Co. in Bombay and Bruce, Allen & Co. in Calcutta.[15]

Early IPAs like Hodgson's, and those produced by the Burton brewers, were only slightly higher in alcohol than most of the other beers brewed in their day and would not have been considered strong ales; however, a greater proportion of the wort was well-fermented, leaving behind few residual sugars, and the beer was strongly hopped.[16] The common story that early IPAs were much stronger than other beers of the time, however, is a myth.[17] While IPAs were formulated to survive long voyages by sea better than other styles of the time, porter was also shipped to India and California successfully.[18] 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.[19]

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.[3][4] In 1837, Hodgson's IPA typically cost 6s 6d for a dozen pint bottles, the same as Guinness Double Stout, and significantly more than the 4s 3d a dozen for a Porter beer.[20] Some brewers dropped the term "India" in the late 19th century, but records indicated that these "pale ales" retained the features of earlier IPAs.[21] 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.[22][23]

IPA style beers started being exported to other colonial countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, around this time with many breweries dropping the 'I' in 'IPA' and simply calling them Pale Ales or Export Pales. Many breweries, such as Kirkstall Brewery, sent large quantities of export beer across the world by steam ship to auction off to wholesalers upon arrival.

United Kingdom

India Pale Ale, or IPA, has been used in the United Kingdom to describe a well-hopped, high-gravity beer since 1835. It gained popularity in the domestic market after 1841,[24] and the term is still commonly used, as in Greene King IPA and Charles Wells Eagle IPA.

United States

Contemporary American IPAs are typically brewed with distinctively American hops, such as Cascade, Centennial, Citra, Columbus, Chinook, Simcoe, Amarillo, Tomahawk, Warrior, Neomexicanus, and Nugget.

East Coast IPAs are distinguished from West Coast IPAs by a stronger malt presence, which balances the intensity of the hops, whereas hops are more prominent in the western brews, 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.[25][26][27]

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.[28] The style is claimed to have originated with Vinnie Cilurzo, currently the owner of Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, California, in 1994 at the now-defunct Blind Pig Brewery in Temecula, California. The style has been embraced by the craft brewers of San Diego County, California, to such an extent that double IPAs have been referred to as "San Diego pale ale" by Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at the Brooklyn Brewery.[29][30]

In the United States, sales of IPAs have increased, helping drive the craft beer renaissance.[31] As such, IPAs frequently top the lists of several beer awards annually. For example, Bell's Brewery's Two-Hearted Ale has been awarded the "Best Beer in America" for three consecutive years starting in 2017; in years prior, Two-Hearted Ale often placed second after another IPA, Pliny the Elder, a double IPA brewed by Russian River Brewing Company.[32] The most awarded IPA to date is Goose Island IPA, with 6 medals.[33]

New England India pale ales are a style of IPA invented in Vermont in the early 2010s. They are characterized by juicy, citrus, and floral flavours, with an emphasis on hop aroma with low bitterness. They also have a smooth consistency or mouthfeel, and a hazy appearance. These characteristics are achieved using a combination of brewing techniques, including the use of particular strains of yeast, the timing of adding the hops, and adjusting the chemistry of the water.[34][35][36][37] The style has become popular among New England brewers. New England IPAs need not be brewed in New England.[38] It was officially recognized as a separate beer style, the Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale, by the Brewers Association in 2018.[39][40]

A recent new variation of the American IPA is the Black IPA, but also commonly known as Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA) or American Black Ale, since the style was popularized by Vermont Pub & Brewery in the early 1990's and is not Pale in color. CDAs share the bitter hoppy flavors of their IPA cousins; however, the use of roasted malts gives them a much darker malty flavor.[41]


  1. The Bow Brewery was on the banks of the River Lea near Bow bridge. The East India Docks lay two miles down river.[11]
  2. Mark Hodgson died in 1810, leaving the Bow Brewery in the care of a trust. His only surviving son, Frederick Hodgson, took control of the brewery in 1819.[11]
  3. The water of Burton on Trent contains a very high concentration of sulphate which accentuates the bitterness of beer. See Daniels, Foster, and Cornell.


  1. North, Andrew. "The return of the Indian Pale Ale". BBC. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  2. Anonymous 1744, pp. 39–43
  3. Daniels 1996, p. 155
  4. Cornell 2008, p. 104
  5. Jackson 1978, p. 210
  6. Anonymous 1744, pp. 72–73
  7. Foster 1999, p. 13
  8. Daniels 1996, p. 154
  9. Cornell 2008, pp. 97–98
  10. "How the India Pale Ale Got Its Name". Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  11. Pryor, Alan (2009). "Indian Pale Ale: an Icon of Empire" (PDF). Commodities of Empire Working Paper (13). ISSN 1756-0098. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  12. Cornell 2008, p. 98
  13. Foster 1999, p. 26
  14. Cornell 2008, p. 102
  15. Mathias 1959, p. 190.
  16. Foster 1999, pp. 17–21 discusses the hopping rate; Daniels 1996, p. 154 discusses the high level of fermentation.
  17. Foster 1999, p. 21
  18. "IN THE ROOM THE STORY OF ANCHOR IPA™". Anchor Brewing Blog. Anchor Brewing Company. Retrieved 28 April 2014..
  19. Daniels 1996, p. 156
  20. WANDSWORTH IN THE FIELDS. In thorough." Times, 15 June 1837, p. 2. The Times Digital Archive
  21. Foster 1999, p. 65
  22. Daniels 1996, pp. 157–58
  23. Cornell 2008, p. 112
  24. "IPA: the executive summary". 31 March 2010. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  25. Henry, Jason (13 September 2012). "Beer of the Week: New Belgium/Alpine Super India Pale Ale". SF Weekly (blog). Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  26. Kitsock, Greg (20 June 2007). "A Bitter Divide". The Washington Post. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  27. Juskewitch, Ezra (10 September 2012). "The Hop Report: Summer brews great alternative to fall ales". The Maine Campus. Archived from the original on 2014-06-14. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  28. "American Double IPA" Archived 2014-12-07 at the Wayback Machine Beer Advocate. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  29. Rowe, Peter (March 8, 2006). "Some believe bitter brew should be renamed to reflect San Diego roots". Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  30. "10 events that rocked our beer mugs, 1996-2006". San Diego Union Tribune. January 17, 2007. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  31. "Is IPA responsible for the growth of the craft beer industry? - Beer News". Beer News. Retrieved 2016-01-31.
  32. Manzullo, Brian. "Bell's Two Hearted Ale named best beer in America — again". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  33. "Goose Island IPA most awarded IPA by Great American Beer Festival". Goose Island. Retrieved 2019-03-31.
  34. Alström, Jason; Alström, Todd (May 2017). "It's Official: New England India Pale Ale Is a Style". Beer Advocate. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  35. Noel, Josh (5 July 2017). "How I learned to stop worrying and love hazy IPA — some hazy IPA". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  36. Moorhead, John (August 2016). "New England IPA: The Haze Craze". American Homebrewers Association. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  37. Sparhawk, Andy (2 August 2017). "The New England Style IPA Is the Anti-IPA". Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  38. Stein, Jason (8 June 2017). "The Haze Craze: 11 Breweries Outside of New England Making NE IPAs". Paste Magazine. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  39. "New England-Style, Hazy Ales Finally Get Industry Recognition". 20 March 2018.
  40. "Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines". Brewers Association.


Further reading

  • Brown, Pete (2009), Hops & Glory: One Man's Search for the Beer That Built the British Empire, Pan Macmillan
  • Steele, Mitch (2012). IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes, and the Evolution of India Pale Ale. Brewers Publications. ISBN 978-1-938469-00-8.
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