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The IPA vs. Pale Ale line

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by BeerNDoggerel, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. dcbdc1

    dcbdc1 Aficionado (205) Virginia Jun 23, 2012

    Just as another potential line-straddler, for those folks in the general DC area, is DC Brau's excellent The Public. Billed as a Pale Ale at 6%, IMO it tastes more in line with IPA standards. (DC Brau also has a hoppier beer at 6.5% (The Corruption) ... also excellent, but billed as an IPA).
  2. to me there are a couple differentials. an IPA should have assertive bitterness and be dry hopped and be above 5.5 abv. a Pale Ale should really let the hop "flavor" come through with little bitterness and of course the color matters. that just scratches the surface
  3. I know! It's obviously an American Strong Ale not an IPA, and obviously a carbonated chocolate liqueur and not an impy stout! At least we can agree on that ;)
  4. There is no line, only a continuous spectrum with a large overlapping area.

    A few years ago, it was easier to say that an IPA was likely to be sweeter/boozier and more bitter with some more hop aroma as well, but now you see more dry, lower alcohol IPAs so that point is murkier.

    Hop aroma and bitterness are still relatively good indicators of whether a beer is called APA or IPA, but plenty of IPAs are lacking on hop aroma at least (these tend to be less praised by beer geeks), while some APAs have jusrt as much if not more hop aroma than many IPAs (Zombie Dust, etc.).

    Bitterness still seems like a pretty good differentiating factor, as you are very unlikely to see a 70 IBU pale ale or a 30IBU IPA. They are out there though.

    In the real world, the two styles are just all over the place, though if you broke things down by percentage of beer representing those characteristics, I think there are definite, clear trends. Judging guidelines are pretty clear, but you have to remember that those are an arbitrary ideal and are made to facilitate judging, not dictate styles in the real world.
    marquis and hopfenunmaltz like this.
  5. hophead247

    hophead247 Advocate (510) California Jan 27, 2008 Beer Trader

    Perfectly fine to disagree, but Oskar Blues have said that Dale's is an IPA...but Dale's Pale ale rolls off the tongue better.
    stayclean likes this.
  6. Lare453

    Lare453 Champion (975) Florida Feb 1, 2012 Beer Trader

    Where is the line between them? Is there a specific ibu number threshold?
  7. Reagan1984

    Reagan1984 Advocate (720) Massachusetts May 15, 2008 Beer Trader

    Kind of shocked that Half Acre Daisy Cutter hasn't been mentioned yet. (unless I missed it)

    To me it's across the line on Hop aroma and taste. I think the body and abv might be why they call it an APA. Either way it's one of my favorite beers. If it was available in my area it would have a permanent place in my beer fridge.... Just fantastic no matter what category it's listed under.
    TastyIsBeer likes this.
  8. baconman91

    baconman91 Advocate (505) Ohio Dec 13, 2009

    I feel the coin/use of the term "IPA" is (Very) Loose now for a lot of diff Categories of Beers in 2days market (in a way)...one distinctive in mind is the Sam Adams Hallertau Imperial "Pilsner"..which Very much tastes like an "IPA" of sorts..if u didn't tell someone ...they prob wldnt know. -- a Good beer is a Good beer...its just bttr if they taste like an IPA ;P
  9. "IPA" first appeared as a name around 1840. Pale Ale around 1640. Lots has happened since then.They have both existed in many forms and guises . How can anybody try to specify exactly what is one and what is the other?
    azorie likes this.
  10. baconman91

    baconman91 Advocate (505) Ohio Dec 13, 2009

    Great Lakes "Nosferatu" ..a lot of folks classify this as an IPA...its techn. an Imperial "RED" Ale..but one of the Best none the less.
  11. BeerNDoggerel

    BeerNDoggerel Savant (455) Illinois Mar 13, 2011 Subscriber

    Two "new" (to me) beers that approach the line.

    Deschutes Red Chair Pale Ale certainly belongs in the Pale Ale Zone, but it's aroma and initial taste are very IPA-like.

    Alesmith X, on the other hand, is right on the line. I find it hard to call it a pale ale, as the brewery categorizes it. On the other hand, I do love the way expectations are managed by calling it a pale. It's so light and refreshing, I wouldn't want really to be judging it up against the frequently heavy handed mainstream IPAs.

    X almost reminded me of much more recently-developed session IPAs, like Lagunitas Daytime Fractional IPA and Founders All Day IPA.
  12. Where is the line between a dog and a poodle? There isn't one and you won't be wrong in calling a poodle a dog.Poodle is just a sub category but unlike with beers dog breeds actually do have proper definitions accepted by all.
    Call a beer an IPA if you like, it doesn't cease to be a Pale Ale.ESB remains a bitter in the same fashion.So much that's written about beer is pure opinion based on assumption and offered as definitive which it isn't.
    At which point do you think a Pale Ale deserves the India prefix? That depends on you and your preconceptions.
  13. cjgiant

    cjgiant Poobah (1,090) District of Columbia Jul 13, 2013 Subscriber Beer Trader

    This question came up as we tried DFH new Pale Ale American Beauty (note: the question centered around 60 minute, actually) I understand the usefulness of categorization, and try to rate within, but feel actual taste matters. For such closely related styles, I don't see how the category should be a huge difference maker in reviews. And if you feel it does, write in a full review.

    I also have never had Zombie Dust, but from what people are saying (early I this thread), are they rating it down b/c it is out of category? It should be an IPA, apparently, so it should get bad reviews as a Pale Ale for being to hoppy. Yet it has a 100 rating, why? Because people like it, despite categorization.

    So I say, rate on your taste and be overt about it, and let the reader decide and taste on their own. Don't be too tied to categories so good beers can be discovered by more people.
    Mothergoose03 likes this.
  14. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Champion (800) Colorado Jan 20, 2012 Beer Trader

    So would you call a poodle a wolf since that is what a poodle evoolved from? Hell no. You also wouldn't call a doberman a poodle even though they have similarities. And the sanctioning bodies for the akc that. Define what american dogs are considered their own breedss don't represent the same breed definitions on an international level. Also the akc will recognize a new breed once it has a bit of popularity behind it. The same trappings and downfalls that we have in the beer world carry over to the dog world analogy. I had an english bulldog that was as close to the original bulldogs as drednaught is to the original ipa, and since we have no internationally recognized definition of what an ipa, pale, or any other beer style for that matter, we are all wrong, including you. So let it go.
  15. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Advocate (635) New Jersey Mar 6, 2008 Subscriber Beer Trader

    What's your highest rated don't like beer?
  16. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Advocate (635) New Jersey Mar 6, 2008 Subscriber Beer Trader

    It's not sewage water it Port wine!
    pschul4 likes this.
  17. Do you assume an IPA evolved from a pale ale?

    I assume an IPA is a sort of pale ale. Hence the name and all.
  18. The PA part of IPA is a subtle clue.
    Dupage25 and azorie like this.
  19. azorie

    azorie Champion (770) Florida Mar 18, 2006

    I just know when the hops over balance the beer so badly my taste buds stop working its too many hops for me.
    sadly so many American PA are really just IPA's. IMHO

    It my curse to have first had a great PA it just had to be a bass PA on cask. ruined all these hop bombs for me since. :rolleyes: Still I do find them great for pairing with really hot food.:D
  20. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Champion (800) Colorado Jan 20, 2012 Beer Trader

    are you sure it isn't some sort of white stout?
    Dupage25 likes this.
  21. Not enough loganberry for that.
    Dupage25 likes this.
  22. You'll never be wrong calling an IPA a pale ale
    jesskidden likes this.
  23. cincysig

    cincysig Savant (425) Connecticut Sep 15, 2010 Beer Trader

    Some people are visual learners. We need a venn diagram!!

    Picture this -- the IPA circle is INSIDE the Pale Ale circle. The IPA circle is very large, but that just makes the Pale Ale circle that much larger.
    Dupage25 likes this.
  24. rxeight

    rxeight Savant (425) Illinois Feb 5, 2012

    Ale is warm fermented. Big group.

    Pale refers to the malts being lighter in color. You would not be wrong calling a Blonde, amber, bitter, or just about anything not porter or stout a Pale Ale.

    India refers to a country. In which a style of beer was developed to be shipped to from England.
  25. nc41

    nc41 Champion (855) North Carolina Sep 25, 2008 Beer Trader

    ZD, and most of Fill Farmstead brews agree with you, they call them PA's which they are, adding the I is at the brewers discretion, even if that PA is a 8+ ABV brew.
  26. Ri0

    Ri0 Poobah (1,155) Wisconsin Jul 1, 2012 Beer Trader

    Black Husky Pale Ale sure seems like an IPA to me.
  27. Roguer

    Roguer Poobah (1,120) Connecticut Mar 25, 2013 Beer Trader

    Great analogy, and fantastic avatar pic.

    Also, I completely agree: plenty of APAs or EPAs completely work as IPAs. Conversely, I was once disappointed with a beer that was advertised to me as an IPA. When I checked it out, though, the brewer called it an APA. That made all the difference in the world: the beer wasn't bad at all, but my expectations for flavor were off.

    Sometimes I want a pale ale; other times, I want an IPA. More importantly, I want a flavor profile consistent with that style. Whatever they choose to call it is irrelevant; if they take a Belgian Quad and start calling it an IPA, I'm still only going to drink it if I'm in the mood for a Quad. :D
  28. jmw

    jmw Savant (450) North Carolina Feb 4, 2009

    I feel like I've learned something tonight.