Trying to navigate through the lighter side of drinking

As one of the fastest growing strands of beer the world of the pale ale has become a labyrinth of acronyms from IPAs to APAs, I hope the below helps to provide a map through the world of the pale ale.

English Pale Ale

The origin of the species, dating back to the seventeenth century, a moderately boozy ale designed to offer more body than a pilsner or lager. Designed to be very drinkable it occupies the middle ground offering hints of fruity and hoppy flavours. Forever associated with Burton upon Trent, Bass and Old Speckled hen are popular varieties still in production.

Belgian Pale Ale

Late in the nineteenth century Europe was awash with light crisp lagers. To try and combat the domination Belgian brewers took a leaf out of their English counterparts, using local Belgian yeast and pilsner appropriate hops the Belgian Pale Ale was born. With a more delicate hop flavour and the trademark spice of the Belgian yeast the Belgian Pale Ale has become a popular export to the USA. Taras Boulba and De Ranke XX are good examples available in the UK.

American Pale Ale

As with the Belgian Pale the APA was born out of a need to offer choice from the crowded lager dominated market. The origin of the APA can be traced back to 1980 in California when large amounts of the spicy Cascade hop was added to the traditional English pale ale recipe. After some refining this complex, full boded pale ale was released as Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. A brand that has become synonymous with growth of craft beer. Slightly weaker and with a lighter hop profile the APA has become a bridge between the English Pale Ale and Indian Pale Ale.

India Pale Ale

With the growth of the British Empire into India a demand grew for an alternative to the Porter that was the traditionally exported to the territories. The EPA was preferred by the middle and upper class but it didn’t survive the long journey well so the strength was increased and additional hops were added to preserve the beer. Thus the IPA was born. Whilst there is no one description that fits all IPAs the traditional IPA possesses floral aromas with a fruity flavour and a bitter finish. Meantime IPA is a good example of a traditional IPA with a modern twist.

East Coast IPA

Very similar to the British IPA the ECIPA is a full bodied, moderately bitter beer with a strong malt backbone. Born out of British brewers moving across the pond during the US beer boom in the 1980s, this is a growing variety of IPA best represented by Brooklyn Breweries East Coast IPA

West Coast IPA

Sometimes confused with the new wave of NEIPA’s out there The West Coast of the US has a serious love affair with the hop.  This has led to the birth of the potently bitter West Coast IPA, with IBUs creeping towards three figures brewers have introduced a world of fruit to give these beers a vibrant fresh flavour to contrast the bitterness. Don’t be surprised to see things like mangoes and lychees make their way into the WCIPA. Stone IPA is a good example of the WCIPA style.

Double (DIPA) / Imperial IPA

These are basically IPAs on steroids, with higher strengths and eye watering IBUs they are growing in popularity amongst beer geeks. If done properly they can offer a nicely balanced flavoursome beer however beware as when done badly they are unbalanced boozy slap in the face. Pliny the Elder is probably the most famous of all DIPAs.

Triple IPA

Taking a lead from Belgium and their Dubbels and Tripels, the Triple IPA was developed as an off the charts version of the DIPA, these are certainly only for the brave and best shared with friends. Look to the US for examples, Founders Devil Dancer is one that can be found on some UK shelves.

Black IPA

Also known as a Cascadian Dark Ale, BIPAs embrace elements of the traditional IPA and of stouts offering a balance of fresh hoppiness with rich, malty complexity. Don’t be put off by the colour they offer an interesting taste of an IPA hybrid. Mikkeller Beer hop breakfast is regarded as one of the best examples of BIPA in the world.

White IPA

Moving to the other end of the IPA scale, the WIPA is a hybrid between a hoppy IPA and witbier. Developed to offer a refreshing IPA that could be drunk at the height of summer this is a small but growing member of the IPA family. Predominantly a US beer the WIPA has made its way across the pond in the form of Sirens White Tips WIPA.

Belgian IPA

Belgian brewing has established strong connections with the US and this has led to the creation of the Belgian IPA, using the APA as a base the Belgian IPA has been created using European hops and the Belgian yeast. Raging Bitch Belgian IPA is a great example.

Session Pale/IPA

Any beer that contains no higher than 5 percent ABV, featuring a balance between malt and hop characters (ingredients) and, typically, a clean finish – a combination of which creates a beer with high drinkability. The purpose of a session beer is to allow a beer drinker to have multiple beers, within a reasonable time period or session, without overwhelming the senses or reaching inappropriate levels of intoxication. (Yes, you can drink and enjoy beer without getting drunk.)

NEIPA/New england IPA

NEIPA is essentially an unfiltered IPA or Double IPA that’s been aggressively hopped. Appearance ranges from slightly hazy or cloudy to opaque or muddy. Dry-hopping, the use of high-protein grains (flours, flaked oats, wheat), certain yeast strains, water chemistry, CO2 levels, and other techniques may also contribute to the beer’s haze and mouthfeel. But the overall goal is typically a hazy, juicy IPA packed with fruity and floral flavors.

Brut IPA

Brut IPA, as as style is very new, yet it’s starting to catch on at breweries throughout the nation and the world. It’s a super dry IPA made with an enzyme that converts unfermentable starches to fermentable sugars. It is light in mouthfeel, effervescent, dry, fruity (not grassy), and moderately low in bitterness.

Oatmeal Pale Ales

Not just reserved for stouts, oats are increasingly invading American pale ales due to their ability to add body and a special quality that can only be described as silky.  The idea isn’t new; Lagunitas first brewed its Equinox Pale Ale with oats way back in 1995














I hope this makes navigating the world of the pale ale a little easier.
– Sam Reynolds 24/09/18