American Imperial IPA – What Makes This Different Than A Traditional IPA

IPAIf you’re a beer lover, you may be already aware of the term IPA or the India Pale Ale. An India Pale Ale is a brew that has been brewed using pale malt. The pale color and a high concentration of hops is what makes the India Pale Ale stand out.

Even though the traditional pale ale consisted of mainly using pale malt, brewers have now begun to use coke-fired malt to ensure even paler results. Over the last couple of years, a lot of variations have been produced because of the Craft Beer Movement in America.

One of the most popular brew variants that came about due to the Craft Beer Movement is the Imperial IPA (also known as Double IPA). American breweries began experimenting with IPA beer by increasing the alcohol and hop concentration. While most IPAs only have alcohol content of just 3-5% percent in volume, the Imperial IPA’s or Double IPA’s usually have alcohol content above 7.5% in volume.

The American Imperial IPA is believed to have originated from a brewing company called the Blind Pig Brewery in Temecula, California by Vinnie Cilurzo. They are quite strong and aren’t as sweet as many of the commercial beer specialities. The Imperial IPA is also nicknamed the Double IPA because they usually contain double the amount of alcohol and hops when compared to the traditional IPA.


Variations of Double IPA


There have also been many variations of the Double Imperial IPA. American craft breweries have now begun to offer triple pale ales that usually have three times the alcohol concentration. Triple Pale Ales have also gained popularity because of their complex flavour. However, these beers don’t belong to the category of “session beers”.


Taste Variations


While most Imperial IPA’s are brewed mostly in America, there is a huge difference in taste between beer brewed in the East Coast breweries and West Coast Breweries. Beers from the East Coast breweries usually have a strong malt presence to balance the high concentration of hops.

On the other hand, IPA’s from the West Coast can be easily recognized because of the strong hop presence. This is because West Coast breweries make use of hops produced in the hop fields of the Pacific Northwest whereas the East Coast breweries rely on spicier hop imports from Europe.


Food Pairings With American Imperial IPA


When it comes to food pairings, American Imperial IPA’s are certainly not the best. These beers are highly bitter and the hop concentration makes this beer highly flavored. This tends to overwhelm a lot of foods that naturally go well with regular beer specialities such as the Pale Ale.

The best kind of food that can be paired with an American Imperial IPA is a highly flavored dish that can stand up to the bitterness and flavor of these beers. Examples:


·         Cuisine: Barbecue

·         Cheese pairings: Cheddar, Limburger, Gorgonzola

·         Meat: Grilled meat and salmon


American Black Ale


Another popular variation of the Imperial IPA is the Black IPA which is also an American Innovation. Black IPA’s are known for their dark color and an entirely different flavor profile. Hop concentration is quite similar to that of the Imperial IPA’s.

During brewing, dark roasted malts are used instead of paler malts to achieve a dark color. The colour of these beers usually ranges from dark brown to pitch black. The alcohol concentration in double black ale tends to be about 7.5 – 14% and just 5-10% in the regular black ale.

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