Pale Ale Primer

Pale Ale Primer

Hops Contribute to Ale’s Bitterness

Earlier we discussed various beer styles, of which there are essentially two: lagers and ales. However, within the ales category, you’ll find pale ales, India pales ales (IPAs) of both the English and American variety, and double IPAs. Here’s a quick pale ale primer.

Hops (Humulus lupulus) are the plant additive that provides the bitterness to beer to balance the malt sugars. They also add to the flavor and aroma and can be added at various points in the brewing process. Pale ales tend to be heavy on the hops and therefore bitterer.

Pale ales have distinct hop flavor but tend to have a more equal malt-to-hop balance, according to’sWhat’s the Difference? Pales Ales, IPAs, and Double IPAs.” Hoppiness in a pale ale tends to be moderate. If you want to try a beer that’s leans a little more on the bitter side, a pale ale could be the right choice.


Next in the pale ale primer is the IPA, an acronym for India pale ale. The IPA originated in England at the time the British Empire appointed a governor in India and began heavy trading to the subcontinent. British brewers developed a process to add more hops to the process to act as a natural preservative for the long sea journey from England to India. (BeerAdvocate.comIndia Pale Ale (IPA)”.)

Today English IPAs are still brewed with English hops and tend toward an earthier flavor. American IPAs, on the other hand, tend to be heavier on the hops with the malt-to-hop balance definitely falling to the hop side of the equation.

With Americans earning the reputation for enjoying heavily hopped beers, enter the double IPA, also known as Imperial IPA. These ales double (or even triple) the amount of hop flavor… and the alcohol by volume (ABV) to go with it.

In selecting an IPA, you may rely on its IBU or International Bitterness Units. It’s a fairly complicated equation that considers the weight of hops, alpha acid percentage and quantity, the volume of wort and an adjustment factor, according to

Best IPAs

If you like hoppy, bitter beer, here are six that you should try (ranked by FoxNews 6 best IPA-style beers”):

  • All Day IPA, Founders Brewing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Hopslam IPA, Bell’s Brewery, Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Sculpin IPA, Ballast Point, San Diego, California
  • 90 Minute IPA, Dogfish Head, Milton, Delaware
  • White Oak Jai Alai IPA, Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, Florida
  • Lagunitas IPA, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma, California