Style Details

Spe­cial­ty IPA - Bel­gi­an IPA
BJCP Style Code
21 B1
Light gol­den to amber in color. Off-white head is mode­ra­te to lar­ge in size and has good reten­ti­on. Cla­ri­ty is fair to quite hazy in dry hop­ped examples.
Mode­ra­te to high hop aro­ma, often tro­pi­cal, stone fruit, citrus or pine-like typi­cal of Ame­ri­can or New World hop varie­ties. Flo­ral and spi­cy aro­mas are also found indi­ca­ting Euro­pean hops. Gras­sy aro­ma due to dry hop­ping may be pre­sent. Gent­le, grai­ny-sweet malt aro­ma, with litt­le to no cara­mel. Frui­ty esters are mode­ra­te to high and may include aro­mas of bana­nas, pears and app­les. Light clove-like phe­nols may be noti­ceable. Bel­gi­an can­di sugar-like aro­mas are some­ti­mes present.
Initi­al fla­vor is modera­te­ly spi­cy and estery asso­cia­ted with Bel­gi­an yeast strains. Clove-like and pep­pery fla­vors are com­mon. Bana­na, pear and apple fla­vors are also typi­cal. Hop fla­vors are mode­ra­te to high in inten­si­ty and may reflect tro­pi­cal, stone fruit, melon, citru­sy, or piney American/New World varie­ties or flo­ral and spi­cy Saa­zer-type hop fla­vors. Malt fla­vor is light and grai­ny-sweet, some­ti­mes with low toas­ted or cara­mel malt fla­vor but not requi­red. Bit­ter­ness is high and may be accen­tua­ted by spi­cy yeast-deri­ved fla­vors. The finish is dry to medi­um-dry alt­hough some examp­les have a slight sweet­ness mixed with the lin­ge­ring bitterness.
The body is medi­um to light and varies due to car­bo­na­ti­on level and adjunct use. Car­bo­na­ti­on level is medi­um to high. Some hig­her alco­hol ver­si­ons may be warm­ing alt­hough this may not be rea­di­ly apparent.
Over­all Impression
An IPA with the frui­tin­ess and spi­ci­ness deri­ved from the use of Bel­gi­an yeast. The examp­les from Bel­gi­um tend to be ligh­ter in color and more atte­nu­a­ted, simi­lar to a tri­pel that has been bre­wed with more hops. This beer has a more com­plex fla­vor pro­fi­le and may be hig­her in alco­hol than a typi­cal IPA.
Typi­cal Ingredients
Bel­gi­an yeast strains used in making tri­pels and gol­den strong ales. Ame­ri­can examp­les tend to use Ame­ri­can or New World hops while Bel­gi­an ver­si­ons tend to use Euro­pean hops and only pale malt.
A rela­tively new style, star­ted show­ing up in the mid 2000s. Home­bre­wers and microb­re­we­ries sim­ply sub­sti­tu­ted Bel­gi­an yeast in their Ame­ri­can IPA recipes. Bel­gi­an bre­we­ries added more hops to their tri­pel and pale ale recipes.
The choice of yeast strain and hop varie­ties is cri­ti­cal sin­ce many choices will hor­ri­bly clash.
Com­mer­cial Examples
Bre­wery Vivant Triom­phe, Hou­blon Chouf­fe, Epic Brain­less IPA, Green Flash Le Freak, Stone Cali-Bel­gi­que, Urt­hel Hop It
Spe­cial­ty IPA isn’t a distinct style, but is more appro­pria­te­ly thought of as a com­pe­ti­ti­on ent­ry cate­go­ry. Beers ente­red as this style are not expe­ri­men­tal beers; they are a coll­ec­tion of curr­ent­ly pro­du­ced types of beer that may or may not have any mar­ket lon­ge­vi­ty. This cate­go­ry also allows for expan­si­on, so poten­ti­al future IPA vari­ants (St. Patrick’s Day Green IPA, Romu­lan Blue IPA, Zima Clear IPA, etc.) have a place to be ente­red wit­hout redo­ing the style gui­de­lines. The only com­mon ele­ment is that they have the balan­ce and over­all impres­si­on of an IPA (typi­cal­ly, an Ame­ri­can IPA) but with some minor tweak. The term ‘IPA’ is used as a sin­gu­lar descrip­tor of a type of hop­py, bit­ter beer. It is not meant to be spel­led out as ‘India Pale Ale’ when used in the con­text of a Spe­cial­ty IPA. None of the­se beers ever his­to­ri­cal­ly went to India, and many aren’t pale. But the craft beer mar­ket knows what to expect in balan­ce when a beer is descri­bed as an ‘IPA’ – so the modi­fiers used to dif­fe­ren­tia­te them are based on that con­cept alone.
Ori­gi­nal Gravity
1.058 - 1.080 SG
Final Gra­vi­ty
1.008 - 1.016 SG
5 - 15 SRM
6.0 - 9.0 %vol
50 - 100 IBU