The India Pale Ale, or IPA as it has become widely known, dates back all the way to the 1700s, but also helped to usher in the craft beer movement in the United States as recently as the early 2000s. With such a long and storied past, the IPA surely deserves the inaugural post in our new “Style Guide” series, brought to you by the beer-minded experts at Northstar Liquor Superstore in Johnstown, CO.

Northstar Liquor Superstore is one of the premier beer stores in all of Northern Colorado, providing over 1,600 unique SKUs of domestic, craft, and imported beers. On top of having a great selection of your favorite suds, we also have a knowledgeable staff who can help you find your new favorite beer, and we offer local delivery services. Stop by and pick up a bomber or six-pack today.

Origin Story

Without getting into the nitty-gritty of who brewed what, the development of the original IPA came about for one reason — soldiers in the colonies were thirsty for a well-crafted beer. At the time, Great Britain held colonies in the Americas, West Indies, and most importantly for the IPA, India.

The lighter bodied beers of the time often spoiled, or at least fell out, during the long trip around the southern tip and Horn of Africa. A greater dose of hops and a higher starting ABV made the IPA much better preserved and able to withstand the long journey.

In time, as pale lagers became more common in Britain, more and more of the stronger India Pale Ale style beers were shipped overseas, forever cementing them as a part of American beer culture. In the 1970s and 80s, India Pale Ales would begin a slow climb back from the darkness leftover from Prohibition and reclaim their rightful spot among the most popular styles of American made craft beer.

English IPAs

True English IPAs must be brewed with English hops like Cascade or Challenger hops which tend to yield herbal or earthy flavors. These beers tend to be medium bodied and gold to copper in color. The typical IBU range is 35-65 with the ABU clocking in between 4.5%-7.0%.

  • 7 Mile Bridge – Two Henrys Brewing Co.; Plant City, FL
  • English IPA – Crooked Spider; Wassenaar, Netherlands
  • Imperialist Pig – Noble Pig Brewhouse; Kamloops, Canada

American IPAs

American IPAs will look identical in color, although may tend to exhibit a haziness uncommon in an English IPA. These classic craft beers can be made from virtually any variety of hops, giving them a flavor profile that can range from sprucey to juicy. American styles have a more limited ABV between 6%-7.5% and usually are more bitter, sporting an IBU rating of roughly 50-70.

  • Aromatherapy – Beyond The Pale Brewing Co.; Ottawa, Canada
  • IPA – Stone Brewing; Escondido, CA
  • Racer 5 – Bear Republic Brewing Co.; Healdsburg, CA

American Variation Examples

The variations below may exhibit a distinctly different color, bitterness, and alcohol content than the primary styles, but they are all IPAs nonetheless.

Hazy IPA (unfiltered)

  • Mosaic Single Hop Hazy IPA – Sweetwater Brewing Co.; Atlanta, Georiga
  • Hazy IPA – Great Divide Brewing Co.; Denver, CO
  • Hoplexity – Grand Teton Brewing Co.; Victor, ID

Imperial (Double) IPA (more hops)

  • 90 Minute IPA – Dogfish Head Brewery; Milton, DE
  • Imperial IPA – Green Flash Brewing Co.; San Diego, CA
  • Voodoo Ranger – New Belgium, Fort Collins, CO

Triple IPA (even more hops)

  • Safe Word – Breakside Brewery; Milwaukie, OR
  • O-Line – Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.; Gilbert, AZ
  • Super Juice – Left Coast Brewing Co.; San Clemente, CA

Session Style IPA (low ABV)

  • Nooner – Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.; Chico, CA
  • Pop-Up – Boulevard Brewing Co.; Kansas City, MO
  • Hop Slice – Deschutes Brewery; Bend, OR

Get Your Favorite IPA And More At Northstar Liquor Superstore

If you love IPAs of any variety or you want to find out if the bitter bite of this classic craft beer is for you, then stop by our beer store in Johnstown today. Our beer experts can help you find exactly what you’re looking for.