India Pale Ales

Amber to copper.

Americans have a good grasp on these hoppy beers, and in fact, are one of the few brewing styles that we excel at here in America. Beers to try are Avery’s IPA, Samuel Smith’s India Pale Ale, and St. Arnold’s Elissa. Fuller’s has an IPA and Dogfish Brewery’s many styles are raising the bar for hop heads everywhere. Anchor Liberty Ale, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, and Grant’s IPA are widely distributed. The White Horse India Pale Ale uses a recipe dating back to the 1850s.

These beers are always the safest ones to try on draught in a bar – for their shelf life, if nothing else. By their very definition they are preserved and effervescent.

Quite simply, this recipe calls for adding a lot of additional hops to a Pale Ale. In this brewing style, pasteurization does not occur. These are ales after all, which means the yeast is supposed to be alive when you drink it and yeast can’t survive pasteurization. By adding more sugar to the brewing process, the yeast stayed alive during the long voyage from England to the West Indies. This also solved another problem – because of the constantly feeding yeast, more carbon dioxide was created which kept the beers effervescent as well. When the beer arrived, it was not flat or sour because the yeast was still alive.

Long boiling times, in excess of two hours help to maximize the use of the hop plants. Like steeping tea, IPA’s are steeped with hops. This also makes the beer rich in protein. 

Another historical brewing distinction is that they did not undergo the secondary fermentation process typical of stouts, porters and ales. Secondary fermentation takes a long time and since they were already being brewed to make a long journey, they underwent a secondary fermentation in the container by adding a yeast strain prior to shipping. You’ll see this as sediment in the bottom of the bottle, but probably won’t notice it in your pint glass.

For Homebrewers
Water, as always, plays an important role in the recipe for beer. Calcium and Sulfates in hard water help to enhance the hop bitterness and clarity of the final product. Some great places to brew include Australia (Adelaide and Brisbane), Canada (Montreal, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, and Toronto), England, and the US (Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Arizona, and southern California).

Alcohol Content
These brews are known for their high alcohol content, which could inhibit bacteria growth on the long, unrefrigerated ride to the West Indies.

These beers are called India Pale Ales because the brew was developed when the British crews of ships were challenged with how to keep the beer preserved long enough from England around the African Cape of Good Hope when ships sailed to trade in the Spice Islands just South of India.

Not only did they add hops to the beer, but it was the type of beer that hops were added to. Since the climates in India were warmer, the dark ales that were popular in London’s temperate climate were not as thirst-quenching in a warmer climate. So, the hops were added to a lighter beer, a pale ale.

Quick Trivia
Pilgrims stopped at Plymouth because the crew of their ship was running out of beer and was not willing to continue the journey without it.


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2 Responses to “India Pale Ales”

  1. Scott Bodenheimer Says:

    Usually summer makes me think of wheat beers, but now I want to try some of these India Pale ales. Are the beers brewed in India and Thailand, like Singha and Kingfisher made the same way?

  2. Tiffany Says:

    Kingfisher and Singha are not IPA’s. I don’t know of any Asian brewers that make an IPA but it doesn’t mean they don’t exist. IPA’s typically only hail from Australia, Canada, England, and the US. If you’ve never tried this style of beer before, I can confidently recommend Dogfish 60-minute though 90-minute is my personal favorite. Remember that IPA’s are still lagers, so they are very thirst quenching in the summer heat!

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