A Look at India Pale Ale (IPA) From Its Origins to Its Taste

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India Pale Ale is a beer with an interesting history. In the early 1700s, Britain had a problem. Troops and British citizens living in India as part of the colonial rule did not have access to good British ale and any attempts to ship the malt British ales to them resulted in spoilage. India Pale Ale, or IPA, was the solution. The generous amount of hops in this brew protected it from the heat and motion of the British sailing ships of the day.

Style Point

IPA could have faded into history when the British occupation of India ended. But a fateful shipwreck firmly established IPA as its own style rather than a sub-style specialty brew. In 1827 a ship leaving London wrecked and damaged some of the casks of IPA on board. The casks were sold there in England and the unusually hoppy ale was a big hit. Soon the new brew was in demand and a new style.


Lots of pale ale and a bit of crystal malt give this style enough malt sweetness to stand up to the demanding hops. Lots of good English hops are traditionally used but some American breweries use local hops varieties, like Cascade, to give it a citrusy twang.

Tasting Notes

It will have a moderate, persisting head. The body will be golden to amber. A good IPA will have a pleasantly hoppy aroma. The flavor should be equally hoppy with plenty of balancing malty sweetness.

Food Pairing

The overwhelming hops flavor of this brew makes it a tough beer to pair foods with. Almost any sort of spicing clashes with the hoppy character. Roasted meats can work with a subtle barbecue sauce. Many prefer to enjoy this beer alone so they can savor the hops.

Brewers' Stats

  • IBU: 40 to 60
  • OG: 1.050 to 1.065
  • FG: 1.010 to 1.016

India Pale Ale Brands to Try

  • Goose Island India Pale Ale
  • McEwan's India Pale Ale
  • Fuller's India Pale Ale
  • Samuel Smith's India Ale
  • Brooklyn Brewery's East India Pale Ale