The modern epitome of India Pale Ale. The American IPA is characterized by the high bitterness, the citrus-fruity, tropical-fruity, but also resinous aromas of the hops. However, a fine malt body that offers contrast to the bitter taste is also found. The style most commonly brewed at craft beer breweries.
Beer Style Facts: American IPA / West Coast IPA
- Appearance: Orange, amber or copper in color. Mostly clear.
- Aroma: Citrus-fruity, less often tropical or stone-fruity, hop notes complemented by hints of resin and pine. On the palate, the strong hop aroma is complemented by a malty aromatic body. Its notes are reminiscent of caramel, bread or cereal. In addition, a distinct bitterness characterizes the taste. The mouthfeel is mostly dry.
- Alcohol: 5-8%.
- Classic Beer: Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA
American IPA - a brief history
In the second half of the 20th century, many small breweries and homebrewers experimented with old styles, especially on the Northwest Coast. The classic English IPA turned out to be a particularly good basis for showcasing the locally growing aromatic hop varieties - for example, from the Yakima Valley in Washington State.
Pioneering work in this field was done, among others, by the Sierra Nevada brewery in California. From the early 1980s, their beers perfectly showcased U.S. hops such as Cascade and Chinook, thus defining the style of the American IPA.
What does an American IPA taste like?
The American IPA is a modern evolution of the English IPA, the classic India Pale Ale. The difference between an American IPA and the English representative is nevertheless clear. The hop aroma in the U.S. versions of the beer is particularly different, as the local hops from the western or northwestern United States are more fruity. It can produce aromas of grapefruit, lemon, lime and orange, but also mango, passion fruit or pineapple. It also can have a great resinousness. An English IPA, on the other hand, is more restrainedly fruity, grassy or herbal. The malt body is bready, grain-forward, but not too heavy. A slight sweetness reminiscent of caramel can occur, as well as a dry mouthfeel.
West Coast vs. East Coast
There are differences in the U.S., however. While the West Coast IPA is considered a classic and focuses on the hop-malt body-bitterness balance described above, in the eastern part of the country you tend to find even more intense hop bombs that have less bitterness and whose malt bodies are not only lighter, but also lighter. In some cases, this sub-style has also evolved into a New England IPA - or NEIPA - which is gant particularly in demand these days, and the lines between American IPA and New England IPA are almost impossible to draw. As a countermovement, however, more and more old-school West Coast IPAs are being found on the market.
What food goes well with an American IPA?
India Pale Ales are great to drink with a spicy meal. Be it an Indian or Asian curry or spicy Mexican tacos. All types of IPAs are excellent with barbecue and grilling in the summer. As a cheese, a Gorgonzola goes well with an IPA. As a sweet accompaniment, carrot cakes are very appropriate.
American IPAs at Beyond Beer: Our recommendations!
You'll find a huge selection of great American IPAs at Beyond Beer, which taste great to both the craft beer novice and the most crass of beernerds. Two beers in particular we would like to recommend to you:
Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA: Sure, the aforementioned classic! Still tastes just insanely good and embodies this style like no other IPA. Citrus aromatic, resinous, bitter and with a strong malt body.
BRLO German IPA: The Berlin brewery has brewed a round, balanced and very approachable IPA. And they did it exclusively with ingredients from Germany. In doing so, they prove that it doesn't always have to be hops from the USA for good IPAs.