India pale ale

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India Pale Ale from Fuller's Brewery.

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

The first known use of the term "India pale ale" is an advertisement in the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser in 1829.[1] It was also referred to as pale ale as prepared for India, India ale, pale India ale, or pale export India ale.[2]


The term pale ale originally denoted an ale that had been brewed from pale malt.[3] The pale ales of the early 18th century were lightly hopped and quite different from today's pale ales.[4][original research?] 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.[5][6] One such variety of beer was October beer, a pale well-hopped brew popular among the landed classes, who brewed it domestically; once brewed it was intended to cellar two years.[7]

19th century poster for Phipps, an IPA brewer in Northampton.

Among the first brewers known to export beer to India was the 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[a] 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.[9] Bow Brewery came into the control of Hodgson's son in the early 19th century,[b] but his business practices alienated their customers.[citation needed] 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.[8]

At the behest of the East India Company, Allsopp brewery developed a strongly-hopped pale ale in the style of Hodgson's for export to India.[10][11] 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,[c] 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 (now Chennai) and Calcutta (now Kolkata) 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 (now Mumbai) and Bruce, Allen & Co. in Calcutta.[12]

Early IPA, such as Burton brewers' and Hodgson's, was only slightly higher in alcohol than most beer brewed in his day and would not have been considered a strong ale; however, a greater proportion of the wort was well-fermented, leaving behind few residual sugars, and the beer was strongly hopped.[13] The common story that early IPAs were much stronger than other beers of the time, however, is a myth.[14] While IPA's were formulated to survive long voyages by sea better than other styles of the time, porter was also shipped to India and California successfully.[15] 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.[16]

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.[17][18] Some brewers dropped the term "India" in the late 19th century, but records indicated that these "pale ales" retained the features of earlier IPAs.[19] 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.[20][21]

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 once there.

United Kingdom[edit]

The term IPA is commonly used in the United Kingdom for low-gravity beers, for example Greene King IPA and Charles Wells Eagle IPA. IPAs with alcohol by volume of 4% or lower have been brewed in the UK since the First World War,[22] when taxes on beer ingredients greatly increased and brewers responded by lowering the strength of their beers.

Canada and the United States[edit]

IPAs have a long history in Canada and the United States, and many breweries there produce a version of the style.[23] Contemporary American IPAs are typically brewed with distinctively American hops, such as Cascade, Centennial, Citra, Columbus, Chinook, Simcoe, Amarillo, Tomahawk, Warrior, 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.[24][25][26]

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.[27] 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.[d] 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".[28][29]

In the United States, the style has become extremely popular and helped drive the craft beer renaissance.[30] The style has traditionally been known for being higher in alcohol content (ABV) but in recent years, "session" IPAs lower in ABV have become popular. As the style has grown more popular, many sub-styles have emerged such as Belgian or White IPAs.[31]

American-style IPA is now brewed in Belgium, with Viven IPA from De Proefbrouwerij and Houblon Chouffe becoming available in the 2000s. It is also available in Argentina from Cervecería Antares.[32]


  1. ^ The Bow Brewery was on the banks of the River Lea near Bow bridge. The East India Docks lay two miles down river.[8]
  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.[8]
  3. ^ The water of Burton on Trent contains a very high concentration of sulfate which accentuates the bitterness of beer. See Daniels, Foster, and Cornell.
  4. ^ The double IPA, though, is not quite a native, even though Vinnie Cilurzo is credited with creating the style in 1994, when he was running Blind Pig Brewery in Temecula. Blind Pig IPA set the bar high and bitter – the recipe called for four varieties of malts, but the intensely aromatic and bitter hops were the star.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, August 29, 1829 Zythophile, The earliest use of the term India pale ale was … in Australia?
  2. ^ North, Andrew (2012-08-25). "The return of the Indian Pale Ale". BBC News. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  3. ^ Anonymous 1744, pp. 39–43
  4. ^ Anonymous 1744, pp. 72-73
  5. ^ Foster 1999, p. 13
  6. ^ Daniels 1996, p. 154
  7. ^ Cornell 2008, pp. 97–98
  8. ^ a b c Pryor, Alan (2009). "Indian Pale Ale: an Icon of Empire" (PDF). Commodities of Empire Working Paper (13). ISSN 1756-0098. Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  9. ^ Cornell 2008, p. 98
  10. ^ Foster 1999, p. 26
  11. ^ Cornell 2008, p. 102
  12. ^ Mathias 1959, p. 190.
  13. ^ Foster 1999, pp. 17-21 discusses the hopping rate; Daniels 1996, p. 154 discusses the high level of fermentation.
  14. ^ Foster 1999, p. 21
  15. ^ "IN THE ROOM THE STORY OF ANCHOR IPA™". Anchor Brewing Blog. Anchor Brewing Company. Retrieved 28 April 2014. .
  16. ^ Daniels 1996, p. 156
  17. ^ Daniels 1996, p. 155
  18. ^ Cornell 2008, p. 104
  19. ^ Foster 1999, p. 65
  20. ^ Daniels 1996, pp. 157-58
  21. ^ Cornell 2008, p. 112
  22. ^ "Brewing records". London Metropolitan Archives: Whitbread and Barclay Perkins. 
  23. ^ Jackson 1978, p. 210
  24. ^ Henry, Jason (13 September 2012). "Beer of the Week: New Belgium/Alpine Super India Pale Ale". SF Weekly (blog). Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  25. ^ Kitsock, Greg (20 June 2007). "A Bitter Divide". The Washington Post. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  26. ^ Juskewitch, Ezra (10 September 2012). "The Hop Report: Summer brews great alternative to fall ales". The Maine Campus. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  27. ^ "American Double IPA" Beer Advocate. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  28. ^ Rowe, Peter (March 8, 2006). "Some believe bitter brew should be renamed to reflect San Diego roots". Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  29. ^ "10 events that rocked our beer mugs, 1996-2006". San Diego Union Tribune. January 17, 2007. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  30. ^ "Is IPA responsible for the growth of the craft beer industry? - Beer News". Beer News. Retrieved 2016-01-31. 
  31. ^ "The Ever-Emerging Sub-Categories of India Pale Ale". Retrieved 2016-01-31. 
  32. ^ "Cerveza IPA". Cervecería Antares. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 


Further reading[edit]

  • 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. 

External links[edit]