India Pale Ale, or IPA, is inarguably the most sought-after style of craft beer in the country. It’s also the most misunderstood.
For many, hearing “IPA” causes a knee-jerk reaction that sends them running for the hills, or for a glass of wine. The acronym is often associated with “hoppy,” and therefore bracingly bitter, offensively coating the mouth and throat with a flood of unwanted IBUs (that’s international bitterness units).
But they’ve got it all wrong. In reality, the IPA flavor wheel spans a number of flavors and styles. A hyped New England-style IPA from a brewery like Tree House Brewing of Charlton, Massachusetts can be tropical and fruity as a glass of actual juice (hence the colloquial term “juice bomb”). Meanwhile, a classic West Coast-style IPA from a brewery like Stone might be grapefruit-bitter and dry as a bone.
We’ve mapped where 12 of the most common IPAs fall on a flavor spectrum — from hoppy and bitter, to fruity and juicy, to malty and sweet, to dry — to give you a sense of what types of IPAs you might like. Learn by tasting, and let us know which ones you love.