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You may not dislike IPAs as much as you think — you’ve just tried the wrong type

There's much more to the IPA than bitter hop bombs

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The IPA has been described as the cilantro of the beer world. It’s assumed by some novice drinkers that you either love it or hate it. On one hand, it’s one of the most popular beer styles in the American craft world. It’s loved by many drinkers for its liberal use of hops and fresh, crushable flavor profile.

But haters of the style dislike it because they have an assumption that all IPA beers are aggressively hopped and uncomfortably bitter. While there are IPAs that fit that criterion (and fans of that style can’t get enough of them), there are also a handful of other types of IPAs to fit any palate.

The IPA stigma

Close-up of beer in a glass
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There’s a strange stigma surrounding IPAs by many drinkers. Based largely on the popularity of West Coast IPAs, some less informed beer fans assume that all IPAs are bitter hop-bombs. As we mentioned earlier, this simply isn’t true. But, as we all know, when someone gets an idea in their head about something, it’s difficult to get them to change it. If they would simply take a sip of one of the myriad other IPA styles, their opinion wouldn’t be so one-dimensional. Sure, they might still hate West Coast IPAs, but at least they’ll be able to pinpoint that exact style as the one to avoid, and not all of them.

The different types of IPAs

Beer tap
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Regardless of what your uninformed friend might tell you, there are more IPA styles than the West Coast IPA. A type of pale ale, the style is known for its high-hop aroma and flavor. But, as a regular IPA drinker will tell you, there’s a lot more to the style than simply bitter hop bombs. From juicy, fruity, hazy beers to bold, dry-hopped bangers, there’s something for every beer fan in the IPA universe. Keep scrolling to learn about some of the more well-known styles.

West Coast IPA

By far the most well-known IPA style, the West Coast IPA is known for its mix of tropical fruits, citrus, and dank piney aromas and flavors. Sometimes aggressively hoppy and bitter, this isn’t a style for everyone.

New England-style IPA

One of the newer IPA types, the New England-style IPA is known for its cloudy, hazy appearance and creamy, soft mouthfeel (often thanks to the addition of oats and/or wheat) tropical fruit and citrus aromas and flavors with very little hop bitterness. They are also often dry-hopped to add more hop flavor and aroma.

English IPA

The OG IPA style, the English IPA is known as a slightly higher-ABV, hoppier version of the classic English pale ale. As opposed to the American IPA, the English style is known for its floral, earthy, herbal hop aroma and flavor.

Imperial IPA

This type of IPA (also known as the double IPA) gets its name because it was originally brewed for the court of Catherine the Great. These IPAs are bigger in every way. They’re higher in alcohol content than traditional IPAs (usually 8-11%) and have a higher hop aroma and flavor.

Milkshake IPA

Milkshake IPAs get their name because they are literally the milkshake of the beer world. This is because this cloudy, hazy IPA type is brewed with milk sugar and ingredients like vanilla, coffee, or various fruit purees. It’s known for its creamy, velvety mouthfeel and very little hop bitterness.

Cold IPA

Popular in the colder months (but brewed all year long, depending on the brewery), the cold IPA gets its name because it’s brewed at cold temperatures using lager yeasts. The result is a crisp, refreshing, hoppy IPA perfect for all seasons.

Sour IPA

If you’re a fan of IPAs and sour ales, you’ll probably enjoy a sour IPA. The sour element comes from the addition of Lactobacillus, Saccharomyces, and Brettanomyces. The hop element comes from dry-hopping. Fruit flavors are also often added making for a slightly sweet, fruity, tart, acidic, hoppy beer with very little bitterness at the finish.

Black IPA

This is the IPA style for stout and dark beer drinkers. That’s because it’s brewed with dark malts that you’d often use for stouts and porters. The addition of floral, earthy, piney hops gives it a unique balance between robust chocolate and pine.

Bottom line

Two glasses of beer
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As you can probably see now, there are many different types of IPAs. The key is finding the one that most appeals to your palate. So, next time someone tells you that they hate IPAs, you can explain to them that they probably don’t.

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Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
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