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What is IPA (India Pale Ale) Beer?

Updated on September 17, 2011

If you know anything about beer, you've probably tried an IPA (India Pale Ale). If you have really decent taste for beer, an IPA may be one of your favorite beer styles. I've tried a lot of beers in my life and IPAs are consistently my favorite beers. India Pale Ales are not the same as regular ales or pale ale beers. IPAs are for people with taste and a fine palate.  IPAs are not for people that prefer bland food and watered down drinks, like Chicken Fingers and Bud Light.  IPAs are unique for a number of reasons, including a slightly higher alcohol content than most other beer styles, a refreshing bitter taste, and IPA's make a statement about the person drinking the IPA!

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

Quick Sip Clips by Dogfish Head: 60 Minute IPA

Alcohol Content

An IPA beer is typically in the middle of the beer alcohol content scale:

  • Crappy American Beers (Budweiser, Coors, Michelob): 4.5 - 5% alcohol
  • Decent European Beers (Heineken, Stella Artois, Beck's): 5 - 5.5% alcohol
  • India Pale Ales (Snake Dog IPA, Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, Elysian The Immortal IPA): 6 - 7.5% alcohol
  • Belgium Tripels (Chimay Blue, Duvel, Westmalle): 8 - 10% alcohol
  • Strong Bocks and Stouts (Sam Adams Triple Bock, Goose Island Bourbon Country Stout, Rogue Imperial Stout): 11 - 17.5% alcohol


IPAs are Bitter

India Pale Ales (IPAs) typically have a bitter taste. What makes an IPA bitter is the hops. IPA beers usually have more hops than other beers. Hops also add flavors such as citrus, floral, and herbal to the beer. In essence, the right hops makes or breaks an IPA.

What is a hop? Hop plants are climbing vines that are related to the hemp family. The female, cone-shaped flowers that hang from the vines are used in the brewing process.

Do you have taste?
Do you have taste?

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IPAs make a Statement

Akin to a fine wine, an IPA is complex and only a fine palate can appreciate such complexities. In my experience, people that drink beers, such as Bud Light, will also drink White Zinfandel wine and Folgers coffee. People that drink IPAs, such as Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, will also drink Cabernet Sauvignon and Peet's Coffee.

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