192,559 CAMRA members
Menu

Learn & Discover

Learn & Discover

Demystifying the different styles of India Pale Ale

If you walk into a pub or bar today hoping to order an IPA, you could well be spoiled for choice, and quite likely a little confused. You might find multiple options on both keg and cask, offering IPAs of different colours, from different regions, brewed in different ways. It’s enough to make your head spin with doubt and order something else that seems a little easier to understand. But fear not, we are here to help. Here’s a rundown of seven of the different varieties of IPA that you might spot in your local.

Hollie Stephens

Hollie is an award-winning freelance beer writer. She contributes to publications including Ferment, Brewer and Distiller International, and Pellicle. Follow her on Twitter at @GlobeHops.

Demystifying the different styles of India Pale Ale

If you walk into a pub or bar today hoping to order an IPA, you could well be spoiled for choice, and quite likely a little confused. You might find multiple options on both keg and cask, offering IPAs of different colours, from different regions, brewed in different ways. It’s enough to make your head spin with doubt and order something else that seems a little easier to understand. But fear not, we are here to help. Here’s a rundown of seven of the different varieties of IPA that you might spot in your local. 

Hollie Stephens

Award-winning beer writer contributing to Brewer & Distiller International and Pellicle.    @GlobeHops

JOIN CAMRA

Or LOG IN for unlimited access to Learn & Discover

JOIN CAMRA

Or JOIN CAMRA for unlimited access to Learn & Discover

English IPA / British IPA 

Typically coming in a little higher ABV than a pale ale or bitter, the striking difference between a British or English IPA and its New World counterparts in the IPA category is the balance of the hop and malt character. In this style, the malt profile might typically be more pronounced, and the IBUs (that’s International Bitterness Units) will be lower on average. The use of British hops gives this style an aroma that is earthy, herbal, and possibly even floral, but bready and biscuity malt character might also shine through. 

English IPA / British IPA 

Typically coming in a little higher ABV than a pale ale or bitter, the striking difference between a British or English IPA and its New World counterparts in the IPA category is the balance of the hop and malt character. In this style, the malt profile might typically be more pronounced, and the IBUs (that’s International Bitterness Units) will be lower on average. The use of British hops gives this style an aroma that is earthy, herbal, and possibly even floral, but bready and biscuity malt character might also shine through. 

West Coast style IPA 

This American IPA is named for its roots on the Pacific coast of the USA, and the hallmark of these beers is that they are typically heavily hopped. These hops could be added throughout the brewing process, including early in the boil, towards the end of the boil or whilst the beer is cooled, or even once the beer is in the fermenter (this is known as dry hopping). Later stage hopping infuses the wort with intense hop flavours and aromas, and the finished beer could be bursting with citrus, piney, or tropical notes. 

“…the striking difference between a British or English IPA and its New World counterparts in the IPA category is the balance of the hop and malt character.”

 Hollie Stephens

“You get soft, almost wine like aromatics, refeshing… acidity and apple driven, when you try Kent and Eastern style ciders”

— Alison Taffs

West Coast style IPA 

This American IPA is named for its roots on the Pacific coast of the USA, and the hallmark of these beers is that they are typically heavily hopped. These hops could be added throughout the brewing process, including early in the boil, towards the end of the boil or whilst the beer is cooled, or even once the beer is in the fermenter (this is known as dry hopping). Later stage hopping infuses the wort with intense hop flavours and aromas, and the finished beer could be bursting with citrus, piney, or tropical notes. 

New England style IPA (or NEIPA) 

This IPA is the style from the opposite side of the United States – the East Coast – and is characterised by its full and creamy mouthfeel. The luscious texture may be achieved by using a low-flocculating yeast (this means that the yeast cells don’t clump together and drop out of suspension as readily), which helps with the haziness of this beer style. Unmalted grains such as flaked oats and wheat might also be added, helping contribute to NEIPA’s trademark opacity.  

New England style IPA (or NEIPA) 

This IPA is the style from the opposite side of the United States – the East Coast – and is characterised by its full and creamy mouthfeel. The luscious texture may be achieved by using a low-flocculating yeast (this means that the yeast cells don’t clump together and drop out of suspension as readily), which helps with the haziness of this beer style. Unmalted grains such as flaked oats and wheat might also be added, helping contribute to NEIPA’s trademark opacity.  

Milkshake IPA 

This IPA style is similar to a NEIPA but leans even more heavily into the importance of a velvety mouthfeel, which is achieved by adding lactose. Adjuncts such as vanilla might also be added to help add a sweet note to this full-bodied and opaque style of IPA, which really can be as rich to drink as an extra creamy milkshake.  

Milkshake IPA 

This IPA style is similar to a NEIPA but leans even more heavily into the importance of a velvety mouthfeel, which is achieved by adding lactose. Adjuncts such as vanilla might also be added to help add a sweet note to this full-bodied and opaque style of IPA, which really can be as rich to drink as an extra creamy milkshake.  

Black IPA 

“Hang on,” I hear you ask. “Doesn’t the P in IPA stand for pale?” Well, admittedly, yes. But you know by now that plenty of modern brewers are bending the rules in delicious new ways. Sometimes called a Cascadian Dark Ale, a Black IPA has the roasty notes that you might expect to find in a stout thanks to the dark malt used, but also the hoppy aromas and flavours you’d find in a West Coast IPA.  

Black IPA 

“Hang on,” I hear you ask. “Doesn’t the P in IPA stand for pale?” Well, admittedly, yes. But you know by now that plenty of modern brewers are bending the rules in delicious new ways. Sometimes called a Cascadian Dark Ale, a Black IPA has the roasty notes that you might expect to find in a stout thanks to the dark malt used, but also the hoppy aromas and flavours you’d find in a West Coast IPA.  

“…a Black IPA has the roasty notes that you might expect to find in a stout thanks to the dark malt used, but also the hoppy aromas and flavours you’d find in a West Coast IPA

 Hollie Stephens

“You get soft, almost wine like aromatics, refeshing… acidity and apple driven, when you try Kent and Eastern style ciders”

— Alison Taffs

White IPA 

This specialty style of IPA might be brewed with a similar hop bill as an American IPA, but also incorporate the fruity and spicy notes that you would expect to find in a Belgian Witbier. This can be achieved by using a yeast which drives towards these flavours, or simply by using additives such as coriander seed and orange peel.  

White IPA 

This specialty style of IPA might be brewed with a similar hop bill as an American IPA, but also incorporate the fruity and spicy notes that you would expect to find in a Belgian Witbier. This can be achieved by using a yeast which drives towards these flavours, or simply by using additives such as coriander seed and orange peel.  

Brut IPA 

Yes, that is Brut as in the French word for ‘very dry’ as found on the front of a bottle of Champagne; a drink which this style has been likened to. Brut IPA is bone dry thanks to the use of an enzyme that breaks down complex sugars that might not typically ferment. And although this golden-coloured, highly effervescent IPA style doesn’t seem to have been quite as much of a hit as others in the category, it suits those who like a crisp and clean finish to their IPA. 

So, there you have it: an introduction to some of the different India Pale Ales you can pick from. And if you’re still a bit confused, don’t worry. Always remember to ask for samples of a couple of different IPAs if you’re at a pub that stocks many; it’s a great way to find out what you like without getting stuck with a pint of something that you’re not fussed on.   

Brut IPA 

Yes, that is Brut as in the French word for ‘very dry’ as found on the front of a bottle of Champagne; a drink which this style has been likened to. Brut IPA is bone dry thanks to the use of an enzyme that breaks down complex sugars that might not typically ferment. And although this golden-coloured, highly effervescent IPA style doesn’t seem to have been quite as much of a hit as others in the category, it suits those who like a crisp and clean finish to their IPA. 

So, there you have it: an introduction to some of the different India Pale Ales you can pick from. And if you’re still a bit confused, don’t worry. Always remember to ask for samples of a couple of different IPAs if you’re at a pub that stocks many; it’s a great way to find out what you like without getting stuck with a pint of something that you’re not fussed on.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
X
X