Style Details

Eng­lish IPA
Pale Com­mon­wealth Beer
BJCP Style Code
12 C
Color ran­ges from gol­den to deep amber, but most are fair­ly pale. Should be clear, alt­hough unfil­te­red dry-hop­ped ver­si­ons may be a bit hazy. Mode­ra­te-sized, per­sis­tent head stand with off-white color.
A mode­ra­te to moder­ate­ly-high hop aro­ma of flo­ral, spi­cy-pep­pe­ry or citrus-oran­ge in natu­re is typi­cal. A slight­ly gras­sy dry-hop aro­ma is accep­ta­ble, but not requi­red. A moder­ate­ly-low cara­mel-like or toas­ty malt pre­sence is optio­nal. Low to mode­ra­te frui­ti­ness is accep­ta­ble. Some ver­si­ons may have a sul­fu­ry note, alt­hough this cha­rac­ter is not mandatory.
Hop fla­vor is medi­um to high, with a mode­ra­te to asser­ti­ve hop bit­ter­ness. The hop fla­vor should be simi­lar to the aro­ma (flo­ral, spi­cy-pep­pe­ry, citrus-oran­ge, and/or slight­ly gras­sy). Malt fla­vor should be medi­um-low to medi­um, and be some­what brea­dy, optio­nal­ly with light to medi­um-light bis­cuit-like, toas­ty, tof­fee-like and/or cara­mel­ly aspects. Medi­um-low to medi­um frui­ti­ness. Finish is medi­um-dry to very dry, and the bit­ter­ness may lin­ger into the after­tas­te but should not be har­sh. The balan­ce is toward the hops, but the malt should still be noti­ce­ab­le in sup­port. If high sul­fa­te water is used, a dis­tinc­tively mine­ral­ly, dry finish, some sul­fur fla­vor, and a lin­ge­ring bit­ter­ness are usual­ly pre­sent. Some clean alco­hol fla­vor can be noted in stron­ger ver­si­ons. Oak is inap­pro­pria­te in this style.
Smooth, medi­um-light to medi­um-bodi­ed mouth­feel without hop-deri­ved astrin­gen­cy, alt­hough mode­ra­te to medi­um-high car­bo­na­ti­on can com­bi­ne to ren­der an over­all dry sen­sa­ti­on des­pi­te a sup­por­ti­ve malt pre­sence. A low, smooth alco­hol war­ming can and should be sen­sed in stron­ger (but not all) versions.
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. 
Typi­cal Ingredients
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.
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.
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. Accord­ing to CAMRA, “so-cal­led IPAs with strengths of around 3.5% are not true to style.” Eng­lish beer his­to­ri­an Mar­tyn Cor­nell has com­men­ted that beers like this are “not real­ly dis­tin­guis­ha­ble from an ordi­na­ry bit­ter.” So we choo­se to agree with the­se sources for our gui­de­li­nes rather than what some modern Bri­tish bre­we­ries are cal­ling an IPA; just be awa­re of the­se two main types of IPAs in the Bri­tish mar­ket today.
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
Ori­gi­nal Gravity
1.050 - 1.075 SG
Final Gra­vi­ty
1.010 - 1.018 SG
6 - 14 SRM
5.0 - 7.0 %vol
40 - 60 IBU