English IPA

BJCP 12c

Overall Impression
A hoppy, moderately-strong, very well-attenuated pale British ale with a dry finish and a hoppy aroma and flavor. Classic British ingredients provide the best flavor profile.

The attributes of IPA that were important to its arrival in good condition in India were that it was very well-attenuated, and heavily hopped. Simply because this is how IPA was shipped, doesn’t mean that other beers such as Porter weren’t also sent to India, that IPA was invented to be sent to India, that IPA was more heavily hopped than other keeping beers, or that the alcohol level was unusual for the time. Many modern examples labeled IPA are quite weak in strength.

Accounts of its origins vary, but most agree that what became later known as IPA was pale ale prepared for shipment to India in the late 1700s and early 1800s. George Hodgson of the Bow Brewery became well-known as an exporter of IPA during the early 1800s, and is the first name frequently mentioned with its popularity. As with all English beers with a long history, the popularity and formulation of the product changed over time. Burton breweries with their high-sulfate water were able to successfully brew IPA and began their domination of this market by the 1830s, around the time the name India Pale Ale was first used. Strength and popularity declined over time, and the style virtually disappeared in the second half of the 20th century. The name was often used to describe pale ales and bitters, not anything special (a trend that continues in some modern British examples). The style underwent a craft beer rediscovery in the 1980s, and is what is described in these guidelines. Modern examples are inspired by classic versions, but shouldn’t be assumed to have an unbroken lineage with the exact same profile. White Shield is probably the example with the longest lineage, tracing to the strong Burton IPAs of old and first brewed in 1829.
Pale ale malt. English hops are traditional, particularly as finishing hops. Attenuative British ale yeast. Refined sugar may be used in some versions. Some versions may show a sulfate character from Burton-type water, but this is not essential to the style.
Commercial Examples
Freeminer Trafalgar IPA, Fuller's Bengal Lancer IPA, Meantime India Pale Ale, Ridgeway IPA, Summit True Brit IPA, Thornbridge Jaipur, Worthington White Shield