Exploring the Differences: Imperial IPA vs Double IPA

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Regarding craft beer, imperial IPA vs. double IPA is a widespread debate. While these two styles of IPA are similar in many ways, some distinct differences make them unique.

In this blog post, we will explore the history and brewing process behind both types of IPAs and compare their taste and color profiles, alcohol content, calorie counts, and more!

We’ll even look at some examples of famous Imperial and Double IPAs for you to try out. So if you’re looking for an inside scoop on all things imperial IPA vs. double IPA related, keep reading!

Table of Contents:

History of Imperial IPA

Imperial IPAs can be traced back to the early 19th century when British brewers began experimenting with higher alcohol content beers. These beers were brewed using more malt and hops than traditional ales, resulting in a more robust flavor profile and higher ABV. George Hodgson’s Bow Brewery created the first recorded example of an Imperial IPA in London in 1817. This beer became known as “India Pale Ale” due to its popularity among English soldiers stationed in India.

History of Double IPA

Origins of Double IPAs date back to the 1980s when American craft brewers began experimenting with new beer styles.

They took inspiration from imperial stouts and porters. Still, they used different ingredients, such as extra pale malts, more hops, and higher alcohol levels for a bolder flavor profile. The first commercial example of a double IPA was Anchor Brewing Company’s Liberty Ale which debuted in 1975.

Key Takeaway:Imperial IPAs and Double IPAs have been around for centuries, but their recipes differ in malt, hops, and ABV levels. Imperial IPAs originated in the early 19th century in England. At the same time, Double IPAs first appeared on the scene in 1975 with Anchor Brewing Company’s Liberty Ale.

Brewing Process

Brewing Process of Imperial and Double IPA

The brewing process for both imperial IPAs and double IPAs is similar, but there are some key differences. Imperial IPAs use a higher amount of hops than other beers, as well as more malt, to balance out the hop flavor.

It gives them their signature bitter taste and intense aroma. Double IPAs use even more hops than imperials, giving them an intense bitterness that can be overwhelming if not balanced with malt or other ingredients.

Ingredients Used in Imperial IPAs:

To make an imperial IPA, brewers typically use pale malts such as two-row barley or pilsner malt to give the beer a light color and body.

Hops are also added in large quantities; popular varieties include Cascade, Centennial, Amarillo, Simcoe, and Citra for their fruity aromas and flavors. Other ingredients like wheat may also be added depending on how the beer tastes.

Ingredients Used in Double IPAs: 

Double IPAs are made with the same base malts as imperials. Still, they need many more hops because they have higher alcohol content. Popular hop varieties include Columbus/Tomahawk/Zeus (CTZ), Chinook, Warrior, and Simcoe.

These give these beers intense citrusy aromas and flavors and a firm bitterness that balances out the sweetness from the malt bill. Wheat is often added too for additional body and head retention while keeping calories low compared to other styles of beer.

Key Takeaway:Both imperial IPAs and double IPAs are brewed similarly, but the hops they use are different. Imperial IPAs use more hops than other beers, but double IPAs need even more hops to balance out the sweetness of the malt bill. Popular hop varieties include Cascade, Centennial, Amarillo, Simcoe, and Citra for imperials; ColumbusTomahawkZeus (CTZ), Chinook, Warrior, and Simcoe for doubles.

Flavor Profiles of Imperial IPAs:

Imperial IPAs are known for their intense hop flavor and aroma. They have a high alcohol content, usually 7-10%, and a firm bitterness balanced out by the malt sweetness. The hop flavors range from citrusy to floral, with notes of pine and tropical fruits often present. These beers also tend to be full-bodied with a smooth finish.

Flavor Profiles of Double IPAs:

Double IPAs are similar to imperials in their intense hop flavor and aroma. Still, they have an even higher alcohol content, usually 8-12%. They also tend to be more bitter than imperials due to increased hops used in the brewing process.

The hop flavors range from fruity or herbal notes like grapefruit or mint to more earthy tones like pine or grassiness. These beers typically have a fuller body than imperials with a smoother finish.

Color Profile of Imperial and Double IPA’s

Both types of beer will generally appear golden in color. Still, double IPAs may appear slightly darker due to the additional hops used during brewing, which contribute some extra coloration to the beer’s hue. In terms of clarity, both styles should be clear when appropriately poured. But double IPAs can sometimes look a little cloudy because they have more hops, which can cause the proteins in the beer to mix and make the beer look less precise than an imperial IPA.

Alcohol Content of Imperial and Double IPA’s

When it comes to imperial IPAs and double IPAs, the alcohol content and calorie counts can vary greatly. Imperial IPAs typically have an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 7-10%, while double IPAs usually range from 8-12%. This means that a 12 oz serving of an imperial IPA will contain around 9% ABV, while a 12 oz serving of a double IPA could contain up to 12% ABV.

Calorie Counts of Imperial and Double IPA’s

The calorie count for each type of beer also varies significantly. A typical imperial IPA has about 180 calories per 12 oz serving. In contrast, a double IPA may have as many as 250 calories in the same size glass.

These beers have more calories because they are made with more malt and hops than other kinds of beer. It means they have more sugar, meaning each sip has more calories.

When choosing between an imperial IPA and a double IPA, you must consider how much alcohol they have and how many calories they have so you know what you’re putting in your body. Knowing the ABV and calorie count will help you make an informed decision about which beer to choose.

Key Takeaway: Imperial IPAs and double IPAs differ in their ABV (7-10% vs 8-12%) and calorie count (180 vs 250 calories). Be aware of the alcohol content and calorie count when selecting a beer.

Popular Examples of Imperial IPAs

Imperial IPAs are characterized by intense hop bitterness, strong alcohol content, and bold flavor. Some famous examples of imperial IPAs include Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, Stone Ruination Double IPA 2.0, Bell’s Hopslam Ale, and Founders Brewing Co.’s Devil Dancer Triple IPA. These beers have a high alcohol content ranging from 7% to 12%, averaging around 8%. They also tend to be bitter due to the large amounts of hops used in brewing them.

Popular Examples of Double IPAs

Double IPAs are similar to imperial IPAs but typically have an even higher alcohol content (8-12%) and more intense hop bitterness than their counterparts. Famous examples of double IPAs include Russian River Pliny The Elder, Lagunitas Hop Stoopid, Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA, and Stone Enjoy By 04/20/17 Unfiltered DIPA. These beers often feature a range of flavors, such as citrusy notes from American hops or tropical fruit flavors from New Zealand varieties.

On the other hand, double IPAs tend to have more complex malt profiles, adding more sweetness to the intense hop presence and giving the beer a balanced finish that many craft beer fans love.

Key Takeaway:Imperial IPAs and Double IPAs offer intense hop bitterness but differ in alcohol content and overall flavor profile. Imperial IPAs tend to be slightly less hoppy with a higher ABV percentage. At the same time, double IPAs have more complex malt profiles for a balanced finish.

FAQs in Relation to Imperial IPA vs Double IPA

What is the difference between an IPA and an Imperial IPA?

The difference between an IPA and an Imperial IPA lies in their respective levels of bitterness, alcohol content, hop character, and flavor intensity. An Imperial IPA will be much happier than a regular one and have a higher ABV (alcohol by volume). The hop character of an Imperial IPA will be more intense, and the flavor profile will be much bolder.

What makes an IPA an imperial?

An Imperial IPA, also known as a Double IPA, is an India Pale Ale brewed with higher alcohol content and more hops than the standard version. This beer style typically has an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 7% or higher and intense hop bitterness. The additional malt used in the brewing process gives this type of beer a fuller body and sweeter flavor profile than traditional IPAs. It is often described as having citrus, pine, tropical fruit, and caramel notes. Imperial IPAs are generally considered more intense and flavorful than regular IPAs.

What does Imperial IPA stand for?

Imperial IPA stands for Imperial India Pale Ale. It is a style of beer that originated in England during the 19th century and was brewed to survive long sea voyages from Britain to India.

What does it mean to be a double IPA?

A double IPA, also known as an Imperial IPA, is a more robust version of the traditional India Pale Ale. It has a higher alcohol content and more intense hop bitterness than regular IPAs.

The malt backbone is usually more significant to balance out the extra hops, resulting in a beer with bold flavors and aromas. Double IPAs are often intensely hoppy and range from pale golden to deep amber. Depending on the hops used during brewing, they have complex flavor profiles that can include citrusy, piney, or fruity notes.


In conclusion, imperial IPA and double IPA beers have many similarities and distinct differences. Imperial IPAs are characterized by their high hop content and higher alcohol content. At the same time, Double IPAs are known for their intense bitterness and bold flavor profiles. Both styles of beer offer unique tastes that appeal to different types of craft beer drinkers. When it comes to imperial IPA vs. double IPA, the choice is ultimately up to you!

Are you an avid beer lover looking to explore the world of craft beers? Do you want to learn more about imperial IPAs and double IPAs? Look no further! Our blog provides helpful information on all aspects of beer, from reviews and equipment recommendations to subscription services for those interested in making their own. Join us as we dive into craft brewing culture to find out which type suits your taste buds best – Imperial IPA or Double IPA.

Also See: Find Out the Nutritional Facts of Non-Alcoholic Beer

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