Style Details

Spe­cial­ty IPA
BJCP Style Code
21 B
Color depends on spe­ci­fic type of Spe­cial­ty IPA. Most should be clear, alt­hough cer­tain styl­es with high amounts of star­chy adjuncts, or unfil­te­red dry-hop­ped ver­si­ons may be slight­ly hazy. Dar­ker types can be opaque making cla­ri­ty irrele­vant. Good, per­sis­tent head stand with color depen­dent on the spe­ci­fic type of Spe­cial­ty IPA
Detec­ta­ble hop aro­ma is requi­red; cha­rac­te­riza­ti­on of hops is depen­dent on the spe­ci­fic type of Spe­cial­ty IPA. Other aro­ma­tics may be pre­sent; hop aro­ma is typi­cal­ly the stron­gest element. 
Hop fla­vor is typi­cal­ly medi­um-low to high, with qua­li­ties depen­dent on typi­cal varie­ties used in the spe­ci­fic Spe­cial­ty IPA. Hop bit­ter­ness is typi­cal­ly medi­um-high to very high, with qua­li­ties depen­dent on typi­cal varie­ties used in the spe­ci­fic Spe­cial­ty IPA. Malt fla­vor gene­ral­ly low to medi­um, with qua­li­ties depen­dent on typi­cal varie­ties used in the spe­ci­fic Spe­cial­ty IPA. Com­mon­ly will have a medi­um-dry to dry finish. Some clean alco­hol fla­vor can be noted in stron­ger ver­si­ons. Various types of Spe­cial­ty IPAs can show addi­tio­nal malt and yeast cha­rac­te­ristics, depen­ding on the type.
Smooth, medi­um-light to medi­um-bodi­ed mouth­feel. Medi­um car­bo­na­ti­on. Some smooth alco­hol warm­ing can be sen­sed in stron­ger versions
Over­all Impression
Reco­gnizable as an IPA by balan­ce – a hop-for­ward, bit­ter, dry­ish beer – with some­thing else pre­sent to distin­gu­ish it from the stan­dard cate­go­ries. Should have good drin­ka­bi­li­ty, regard­less of the form. Exces­si­ve harsh­ness and hea­vi­ness are typi­cal­ly faults, as are strong fla­vor clas­hes bet­ween the hops and the other spe­cial­ty ingredients.
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.
Ent­ry Ins­truc­tions: Ent­rant must spe­ci­fy a strength (ses­si­on, stan­dard, dou­ble); if no strength is spe­ci­fied, stan­dard will be assu­med. Ent­rant must spe­ci­fy spe­ci­fic type of Spe­cial­ty IPA from the libra­ry of known types lis­ted in the Style Gui­de­lines, or as amen­ded by the BJCP web site; or the ent­rant must descri­be the type of Spe­cial­ty IPA and its key cha­rac­te­ristics in com­ment form so jud­ges will know what to expect. Ent­rants may spe­ci­fy spe­ci­fic hop varie­ties used, if ent­rants feel that jud­ges may not reco­gni­ze the varie­tal cha­rac­te­ristics of newer hops. Ent­rants may spe­ci­fy a com­bi­na­ti­on of defi­ned IPA types (e.g., Black Rye IPA) wit­hout pro­vi­ding addi­tio­nal descrip­ti­ons. Ent­rants may use this cate­go­ry for a dif­fe­rent strength ver­si­on of an IPA defi­ned by its own BJCP sub­ca­te­go­ry (e.g., ses­si­on-strength Ame­ri­can or Eng­lish IPA) – except whe­re an exis­ting BJCP sub­ca­te­go­ry alre­a­dy exists for that style (e.g., dou­ble [Ame­ri­can] IPA). Strength clas­si­fi­ca­ti­ons: Ses­si­on – ABV: 3.0 – 5.0% Stan­dard – ABV: 5.0 – 7.5% Dou­ble – ABV: 7.5 – 10.0%