December 8, 2022

What is an IPA? Explaining the beer and its sub-categories — imperial, hazy and session.

2 min read

In 2021, enough beer was shipped by the U.S. beer industry to fill more than 2.9 billion cases, according to the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

But not all beer is created equal. With ales, lagers and so many sub-categories within each, two types of beer can taste wildly different, which can make buying beer intimidating for the average consumer.

Walking through a liquor store in search of a new and interesting six-pack can be confusing because of the complex jargon common in the beer industry, but we have the information you need.

What is an IPA?

IPA, short for India Pale Ale, is a type of pale ale that emphasizes the flavors and aromas of hops, according to Stonecloud Brewing.

The history of the term dates back to the British Empire and its colonies, but today’s IPA is a different beast, according to Stonecloud. Today, American IPAs are around 6-7% ABV (Alcohol by Volume), and while there are many types, Stonecloud says they are most easily recognized by their hoppy flavor.

What are hops?

According to Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., hops are green, cone-shaped flowers that come from a plant called Humulus lupulus. Pods and glands in the flower create the bitterness, aroma and flavor of an IPA.

What is an imperial IPA?

An imperial IPA, also known as a double IPA, tends to be at least 8% ABV, according to Stonecloud.

This beer is darker and more bitter than a traditional IPA, according to Craft Beer Club.

When an imperial IPA reaches 10% or higher, it may also be called a “triple,” according to Stonecloud.

What is a hazy IPA?

Hazy IPAs are a bit of a wildcard and can be in any ABV range. This type of IPA is distinguished by its unfiltered, less bitter taste, according to Stonecloud.

What is a session IPA?

Stonecloud says session IPAs are usually 4-5% ABV. They’re known as “session” IPAs because you can have more than one in a session with friends, due to their relatively low ABV, according to Stonecloud.