What Is An IPA?

The IPA – A Staple For All Occasions (That Call For Bitter Beer)

The IPA is a type of beer that has been skyrocketing in popularity inside craft brew and hipster circles. However, this doesn’t mean the beer is fancy, pretentious or not for you. The right IPA can be a true delight, and it might even become your new favorite type of beer.

When you take apart what IPA stands for, you get a better idea of the beer. India Pale Ales (IPAs) are in the pale ale family of beers, except they tend to be a little hoppier than other ales. This typically means they’re more bitter in flavor, but flavor ranges from beer to beer.

The IPA was first created roughly 200 years ago with the intention of being super-hoppy since it would preserve the beer longer. This was important since beer prepared in England rarely survived the long journey to India (hence the name).

What Does An IPA Taste Like?

The easiest way to find out the flavor of an IPA is by trying one (obviously), but if you want to sound like a beer connoisseur, there are a few words you can use to describe your hoppy beverage:

  • Hoppy: The hoppiness comes from the hops in a beer. Generally speaking, the hoppier the beer, the more bitter it is.

Used in a sentence: “Wow, this beer is so hoppy. One could even say bitter, but not me because I drink beer.”

  • Juicy: A juicy flavor also comes from the hops used, but it’s less of a bitter flavor. If your IPA tastes slightly of fruit, it could be a juicy IPA.

Used in a sentence: “This is a juicy beer, now I don’t need to have my glass of juice before bed!”

  • Hazy: Kind of like juicy, but your beer is going to be much less translucent than others – sort of like a fogginess in your glass. Haze has a more malty flavor, but not everyone is a fan of hazy IPAs. In fact, many hazy beers are mistakes. But if you find a nice hazy IPA, it’s worth trying.

Used in a sentence: “This IPA is as hazy as pea soup.”

If you need more terms to describe your IPA, check out the Beer Buzz Words list.

Types of IPA

Yes, there are different types of IPA just to keep things fun and interesting. One big differentiation between IPAs is the East Coast/West Coast style. The East Coast IPA generally uses malty flavors to smooth out the IPA. This makes it a little hazier and juicier while also making it less bitter.

West Coasters enjoy their IPAs as hoppy as possible, which is why so many of the West Coast beers are bitter.

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