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What is IPA beer? – 7 FAQs Answered

Are you ready to cram your mind with so much delicious and essential knowledge about IPAs that it forces some other less crucial information, about say the Tudors, identifying birds of prey and Dutch football 1971-1983, right out of your brain? Yes you are? Fantastic, then we’ll begin.  

What is an ipa?

First of all, ‘what is an IPA?’ you shriek. Well, an IPA is a type of pale ale (thanks to the pale malts used in brewing – thanks pale malts). It’s a beer that is pretty heavy on the hops (and alcohol) and perfect for someone who wants a more punchy, out-of-this-world flavour, which other types of beer might be missing. 

Hope you’re ready to hear a LOT about hops, because they’re the star of many a beer but particularly IPAs. They’re the flower of the hop plant and are responsible for that tropical/grassy/floral/woodsy/citrusy flavour you can taste in your favourite can of Neck Oil and Tropigamma. Now you know this you can say things like ‘Mmm, that’s some hoppy IPA.’ 

What does IPa stand for?

IPA stands for India Pale Ale. The ‘India’ in the name, likely comes from the East India Trading Company rather than the country itself. The history is hotly debated and a little murky but, apparently, IPAs got their name during the British colonial era. See, hops (hello old friend) are really good natural preservatives and help stop beers from growing all sorts of nasty bacteria and microbes that could make you ill. It’s basically medicine.  

Because beer didn’t travel well, and India is too hot and humid for good beer brewing, brewers invented a new type of beer that was heavy on hops and was able to survive the long boat journey from England to India. This is good first date chat. During the long trip though, a lot of the hop flavours faded which resulted in a pale, very bitter drink that was probably fairly unpleasant unless it was drunk cold (unusual for British beers at the time). Probably save this for the second date.  

Over time, the recipe was modified to be less alcoholic (thanks to the alcohol tax – thanks alcohol tax) and the hops were pared right back as well – tooth-strippingly bitter, warm beer wasn’t nice to drink, after all. It wasn’t until 1980’s USA, during a boom in popularity of homebrewing, that the alcohol level was brought back up again and something closer to the IPAs we know and love today were born.  

Are APAs considered IPAs?

Nope! Nice try APAs. They’re their own thing.  

After IPA was invented, pale ales remained basically the same for two centuries until the 1980s when Johnny Come-Lately American microbreweries started making their own pale ales. American hops have a bit of a different flavour – very pungent and floral – so American Pale Ales became their own thing.  

Gamma Ray is our best-selling APA – and totally worth a taste if you want an interstellar hoppy experience. 

What is a session IPA?

Us Brits love nothing more than a lengthy, yet responsible, drinking session. There's nothing quite like whiling away the hours with a lower-booze drink and some stellar (not Stella) company – and session IPAs are your ticket to a session filled with lively debate and a passionate exchange of views (again, always drink responsibly). 

Usually, IPAs have an ABV (alcohol percentage) of around 6% but session IPAs have a much lower level (around 3-5% instead). Perfect for slow sipping and savouring the moment. 

What does an IPA taste like?

Thanks to the many different varieties of hops out there – take a (responsible) sip everytime we mention them – IPAs have a whole galaxy of possible flavours. IPAs are usually more bitter than lagers and have a brighter, more crisp flavour that you can’t find in darker ales. 

Some IPAs can have citrus or tropical fruit flavours like our Tropigamma IPA which basically just tastes like summer in a can, fortunately minus the pollen and wasps. Others can include grassy notes, flowery flavours, and even earthy tones like in our OG Neck Oil IPA. Why not shout something like: ‘Mmm, flowery’, and see what the pub makes of you. And different combinations of hops can create an all new tastebud-tingling flavour. 

What is the difference between IPA beer and regular beer?

There are a few differences between IPAs and other types of beers such as lager or stout.


The Ingredients

There’s a lot of technical stuff, this is probably 4th date stuff, when it comes to brewing beer and each ingredient can affect the flavour of the end mission. 

Ales use different types of brewing yeast to lagers which affects the fermentation process (the process that makes beer beer) and the taste. 

Malts are the backbone of many beers and can also lend different flavours (God bless you Malts). A stout, for example, uses roasted malts to give the beer a deeper flavour and darker colour. However, because IPAs lean on more hop-driven styles, they use pale malts that don’t lend as much flavour – letting the hoppy flavours shine through. ‘Mmm, that’s some hoppy IPA’. 


The average (or not-so-average to us thank you very much) pint of lager is somewhere between 4-5% alcohol while a typical IPA has around 6% alcohol. Unless you’re sipping (responsibly) on a session IPA of course.

The Flavour

As we mentioned, IPAs are brewed with different types of hops. There are loads of different varieties and they all have a different flavour profile. We always list which hops we use in our beers on the product page, so go and absolutely fill your boots learning some, maybe displace a second language. IPAs are down-to-Earth but are still an interstellar experience. 

Do IPAs go bad?

IPAs may have been invented to last a long time, but tastes have changed since those first, very bitter, versions were created. Hops aren’t just preservatives anymore and are now a key flavour component in your favourite IPAs. Generally, the shelf life of IPA beer is 12 months (it’s the corned beef of beers), HOWEVER, if you want the optimal flavour, you gotta drink your Beavertown beer fresh. 

What is an IPA beer example?

Well, thanks so much for asking. There’s an entire Beavertown universe of IPAs to crack open. From fruity and refreshing Tropigamma IPA to the alcohol-free and peachy Lazer Crush and even fruity, gluten-free Critical Mass, plus there’s a whole galaxy more. See told you it was interesting, you don’t really need to know about Dutch football do you. Johann who?