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Savvy Tips & Helpful Hints

Pale Ale vs IPA: What Is the Difference?

If you are confused about the differences between pale ale and IPA, you have come to the right place! Click here to learn the differences of pale ale vs IPA.

The first batch of beer was brewed over 5,000 years ago, and today there are over 70 styles of beer. Both Pale Ales and IPAs are very popular types of beer around the world, and while many people think they taste similarly, there are a few important differences. 

Let’s dive into Pale Ale vs IPA to boost your beer knowledge. 

What’s a Pale Ale? 

Pale Ale beer gets its name from well, its pale color. A lighter malt produces a lighter flavor and color than other types of beer. In a Pale Ale, the hops are forward, and the taste overall is slightly bitter. 

Pale Ales were in stark contrast to what beer typically looked like, especially in England where stouts and dark beers were the mainstream. Pale ale has fruity aromas and often tastes like citrus. One of the best Pale Ales is Sweetwater 420 from Atlanta. Another is Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale, which is a classic full-bodied ale. 

What’s an IPA? 

When the British were scattered throughout India, they often craved the homey Pale Ale from England. Often, it would spoil en-route to India. Brewers added alcohol and hops to Pale Ales to strengthen them for the journey and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. 

That’s how the India Pale Ale came to be. 

IPAs have been expanded to the Imperial IPA, which is also an IPA but has a higher alcohol content. Double and triple IPAs have double or triple the hops, but also more malt to balance out the flavors. These are piney and grapefruity beers. 

Many craft breweries around the United States use hops in their region to put a spin on the traditional IPA. West Coast hops will differ in taste from New England hops. 

What’s the Difference?: Pale Ale vs IPA

Since IPAs are a derivative of Pale Ales, it’s easy to understand why they might get confused for one another. Here are a few key differences, most of which have to do with the distinctive flavor profiles of each beer. 

*IPAs are typically hoppier, though that can differ between breweries.

*IPAs have a higher alcohol content than Pale Ales.

*IPAs have a higher IBU, or International Bitterness Unit.

*IPAs are more earthy, woodsy, and citrusy due to the excess hops. 

*Pale Ales have an older history. 

*Pale Ales are lighter in color. 

*Pale Ales are more malty than hoppy.

If you’re choosing a beer gift for a friend, stick to what you know they like. If you have no idea, Pale Ales are well-loved. IPAs can have a strong hoppy flavor that some people don’t enjoy. 

Choose Wisely

Next time you’re at a bar, chat with the bartender and sample a few different types of Pale Ales and IPAs. Now that you know the background on Pale Ale vs IPA, it’s time to taste the difference for yourself. 

For more on lifestyle, beer, and gift ideas, check out the rest of our blog! 

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